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Vegetarians Win McDonald's Beef Extracts Case


Posted on 2002/11/2 8:46:02 ( 901 reads )


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NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, October 31, 2002: A US court has approved a US$10 million settlement in a lawsuit by an Indian American against McDonald's Corporation for misleading customers who don't eat meat by using beef extracts in its fries. Punjab-born Harish Bharti, the lead counsel in the case Sharma vs McDonald's, said he was elated with the victory for consumers. Bharti has filed several cases across the U.S. claiming McDonald's used meat additives in its fries and hash browns long after making a 1990 pledge to cook them in vegetable oil. McDonald's has admitted to using beef extract in fries. The court approved the amount, but not the list of organizations to whom the money was to be distributed, which Bharti disputed. "I won on both counts -- I won on the settlement, and at the same time I did not want McDonald's to give the money to its favorites," Bharti said. The article cited documents stating the specific distribution as approved by the court was laid out by Bharti as follows. "The settlement amount shall consist of $10 million, to be placed in a fund for distribution to charitable and/or other tax-exempt organizations to be mutually agreed upon by the parties on or before the effective date." It said the funds would be divided "to the extent practicable" as "60 percent to vegetarian organizations; 20 percent to Hindu and/or Sikh organizations; 10 percent to children's nutrition and/or children's hunger relief organizations; and 10 percent to organizations promoting the understanding of Jewish law, standards and practices with respect to Kosher foods and dietary practices, and the observance of such standards by persons of the Jewish religion."






Women's Spirituality Conference Planned for Washington D.C.


Posted on 2002/11/2 8:45:02 ( 750 reads )


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WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES, November 1, 2002: Sacred Circles: A Celebration of Women's Spirituality 2002, will be held November 8-9 in Washington DC at the Washington National Cathedral. This biannual gathering attracts more than 1,000 women from around the United States who delve into the commonalities they share while honoring their diversities. Representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American and other faith communities will lead workshops focusing on a variety of topics, including peacemaking, prayer, writing, yoga and interfaith families. The two-day event will also offer worship opportunities and spiritual practices, a community art project and walking the labyrinth. Readers may register at "source" above or call 202-537-2221 for more information.






British Parliament Celebrates Deepavali


Posted on 2002/11/1 8:49:02 ( 858 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, November 1, 2002: In what they hope will be the most auspicious new political season of them all, hundreds of British Hindus took incense, diyas (oil lamps), sweets and the spirit of Deepavali for the first time ever into the UK's Victorian houses of Parliament, only to be rebuked by a leading government minister for political apathy. With his mouth full of mithai (a sweet), Home Secretary David Blunkett chided Britain's Hindus for "not voting very much, for any party," a criticism commentators said could imply an insularity and self-centredness at the heart of one of the richest immigrant communities in Britain today. Leading community leaders privately admitted Blunkett was right, but emphasized that change was in the air and Deepavali's arrival in parliament was symbolic. Blunkett's criticism, which were the only fireworks around in the safety-conscious and very inflammable British parliament building, came as prominent Indophile British MPs and those with Indian-dominated constituencies carefully lit oil lamps and chanted "Om shanti, shanti, shanti" -- "Om, peace, peace peace."






Tamil Nadu Passes Anti-Conversion Bill


Posted on 2002/11/1 8:48:02 ( 334 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, October 31, 2002: Amid an hour-long acrimonious debate, the anti-conversion bill was passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday with 140 members voting in favor and 73 opposing the motion. In the 234-member house, none remained neutral. Speaker K. Kalimuthu did not participate in the voting. Twenty members, including former Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi and DMK leader K. Anbazhagan, were not present when the Bill was put to vote, after the entire opposition, barring the BJP, pressed for a division. Replying to the debate, Chief Minister Jayalalitha said the legislation was not directed against any particular religion or minorities. There was no provision under the IPC to prevent conversions and therefore the government felt the need for a legislation to curb forceful conversions through "force and allurement." "Those changing religion on their own volition will not be covered under this legislation." Taking a dig at those opposing the legislation, Jayalalitha quoted the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi as having said that "conversions are harmful to India. If I had the power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytizing." The law was first promulgated as an executive order by the chief minister, but now has passed as a formal legislative act.






Help Sought for Proposed Museum in Fiji


Posted on 2002/11/1 8:47:02 ( 802 reads )


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LAUTOKA, FIJI, October 31, 2002: To mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of South Indians in Fiji from Chennai, the Fijian Sangam has plans to hold a celebration in the spring of 2003 in Lautoka in conjunction with the Annual Sangam Convention 2003. During the celebration, a book entitled "History of Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam" by Dr. Som Prakash, University of the South Pacific, will be released. In addition, the Sangam has proposed to construct a Sangam Museum and Archive at Lautoka Sangam Village at Lovu, Lautoka, to be undertaken with the Lautoka Branch, TISIS as a suitable monument to mark the occasion. The Sangam asks any individuals or organizations who are interested in this project and would like to contribute funds or relevant materials for the proposed museum to e-mail "source" above.






Indian Goddesses Bound for Danish Museum


Posted on 2002/11/1 8:45:02 ( 843 reads )


Source: New India Press





KOLKATA, INDIA, October 24, 2002: Clay images of two Indian Goddesses, Durga and Kali, selected for their mystical qualities and considered representative of Hinduism, will find a permanent place in the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. Shyamal Kanti Chakraborty, curator of Kolkata's Indian Museum, said the Danish foreign ministry had written to him about Copenhagen's desire to promote understanding of Indian art, culture and religion. "The Indian Goddesses will first be showcased in an exhibition at the Danish National Museum under the Images of Asia section. Thereafter the deities will find place in a permanent gallery of the museum," Chakraborty said. Also on display will be various materials and ingredients used in the worship of the two Goddesses and the musical instruments played while conducting the rituals. The worship of Durga over a four day period in autumn constitutes the Bengalis' biggest festival of Durga Puja. Two Danish officials were in Kolkata during Durga Puja celebrations last week studying the religious rites, while taking copious notes for illustrations to accompany the clay images of the Goddesses. The Danish museum will not only exhibit the images of Durga and Kali, but also models of the various stages of making of the icons.






Orissa Tribals Seek Voice at Climate Meet


Posted on 2002/10/31 14:49:19 ( 778 reads )

Source: NDTV



Bhutan, Land of the "Gross National Happiness" Indicator


Posted on 2002/10/31 8:49:02 ( 784 reads )


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BHUTAN, October 28,2002: Nestled in the mighty Himalayas, Bhutan, The Land Of Thunder Dragon, is the last remaining Himalayan kingdom -- an oasis of innocence in our world, where compassion and wisdom are the benchmark against which all things are measured.Bhutan is the only place in the world where the official government policy is Gross National Happiness (GNH). Hard to believe, but true. The aspiration towards enlightenment, and belief in the innate goodness of human beings, is widely shared by the people of Bhutan, the majority of whom practice Mahayana Buddhism. In spite of life's suffering and hardships, the Bhutanese devotion to the teachings of loving-kindness remains ever present. In this 21st century, many parts of Bhutan lack technology and electricity and there are many villages that are still without schools. AMICUS, "friend" in Latin, hopes to be one of many bridges linking Bhutan with the world at large in a way that benefits everyone. Schools, community centers, libraries, nunneries are being build while educational scholarships and preservation of Bhutan's historic and cultural monuments are all made possible. Amicus foundation ("source" above) is also playing a part to maintain the profound and beautiful qualities of Bhutanese culture, keeping the villages in tact with its integrity and spiritual values and helping Bhutan to make a smooth transition into the modern world while retaining its spiritual and cultural heritage.






Supreme Court: Minority-run Religious Institutions in India Subject to Government Oversight if Aided with Government Funds


Posted on 2002/10/31 8:48:02 ( 791 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 31, 2002: In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the minority community (meaning Christians and Muslims) had an unfettered right to establish and administer educational institutions based on religion but if they received aid from the state they would be subject to government rules and regulations. One regulation is that any such institution accepting government funds cannot deny admission to students from other communities on the basis of religion, caste, race or language. The court also upheld the government's right to interfere in the management of a minority institution if the administration failed to be "transparent" or if merit was not given due primacy in the admission of students. The Supreme Court, while upholding the minority community's right to establish and administer educational institutions, said the same right was available to the majority community. Answering the question on the meaning of "minority," it said the states had been reorganized on the basis of language and hence the question of religious and linguistic minority had to be considered on state-wise basis. The court held that even an unaided minority-run school could be required to admit a certain percentage of students from other communities, the percentage being set by the local state government for the institution. HPI adds: This ruling does not impact the system in India that Hindu-run educational institutions aided by the government are not allowed to teach Hindu religion, while minority-run schools aided by the government are allowed to teach their religion.






Hundreds Embrace Buddhism in Ahmedabad


Posted on 2002/10/31 8:47:02 ( 856 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, October 31, 2002: Nearly a thousand Dalits ("untouchables") in Ahmedabad reportedly embraced Buddhism on Sunday while followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar chanted during the ceremony. A delegation of 20 monks and nuns from Bodh Gaya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam initiated them into the religion. Bhante Mahanama from Bodh Gaya, presided over the ceremony. He claimed that in all, over 1,000 persons, mainly Dalits, embraced Buddhism during their three-day tour. Later reports disputed that number. When asked as to how did they convince people to change their religion, he said, "We did not ask them to accept Buddhism. They had interest in Buddhism and they wanted to get converted. So we gave them diksha, initiation. It was Ambedkar (Dalit leader who wrote India's constitution and converted to Buddhism) who had shown them the way." Ahmedabad-based Bhante Harshabodhi coordinated the program that has been called the biggest-ever conversion program in the city.






Muslims Unveil Media Guide


Posted on 2002/10/31 8:46:02 ( 823 reads )


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OTTAWA, CANADA, October 31, 2002: The Canadian office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has released a guide on Islam for journalists, according to this report from Religion News Service. "A Journalist's Guide to Islam," heralded as the first of its kind, is intended to provide "ready and accurate information in areas that media professionals might encounter during the course of preparing a story about Islam and Muslims," the organization says. Hindus can request a copy of it by e-mailing "source" above. It could serve as an outline for a similar media guide about Hinduism. The guide's sections include, Some Quick Facts About Islam, Practical Tips for Reporting on Islam, The World of Islam, History, Five Pillars of Faith, Branches, Celebrations, etc., a list of media contacts across Canada and a glossary of terms.






Hindus Protest Proposed Regulations on Fireworks in South Africa


Posted on 2002/10/30 8:49:02 ( 786 reads )


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DURBAN SOUTH AFRICA, October 28,2002: South Africa's National Assembly's Safety and Security Portfolio Committee agreed last week to recommend the Explosives Bill on November 5, a day after Deepavali. The bill, if passed, will prohibit the use of fireworks without a permit. The controversy erupted at a time when a massive firework display was held by Hindus on Durban's beach front as part of the Deepavali celebrations. According to the bill, failing to obtain a permit for such displays could lead to fines or jail terms of up to 25 years. Terming the bill "unacceptable," the president of South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said it would be contested in the Constitutional Court if the concerns of the community were not taken into account. The chairman of the Portfolio Committee, Mluleki George, was quoted by the Independent daily today as saying that no input from the Hindu community had been made during the compulsory public comment period. Some politicians of Indian origin said they would make representations to the Committee to amend the Bill.






Houston Hindus Celebrate Navaratri


Posted on 2002/10/30 8:48:02 ( 870 reads )


Source: The Houston Chronicle





HOUSTON, TEXAS, October 19, 2002: The festival of Navaratri, the nine-night Hindu festival honoring three Goddesses is celebrated in grand style by South Indian Hindus now living in Texas. Born in Chennai, southern India, where Navarathri is one of the major religious celebrations, Ranjana Narasiman says, "Sometimes I feel I'm living two cultural lives, and 24 hours is not enough for that." This comment was made after Ranjana had attended four Navaratri parties and hosted 230 guests in her northwest Houston home. Navaratri began this year on October 6 and is a festive prelude leading up to Deepavali, the festival of lights. It is often celebrated with dances and in Houston over 4,000 Hindus gathered at Reliant Arena for the traditional garba dance. The article says, "In south India, Navaratri is traditionally celebrated mostly by women. Customs include giving small gifts as guests depart and offering a tray of sandalwood paste to perfume a wrist and red turmeric to place on a woman's forehead." In Houston, men have joined the festivities. Narasiman, a high school physics teacher says, "She believes that those who grow up in a home that preserves Hindu traditions often carry them on once they are grown -- and that makes it worth it for her and her friends."






Ayurveda Newsletter Available Online


Posted on 2002/10/30 8:47:02 ( 871 reads )


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USA, October 1, 2002: Produced every two weeks and available for free subscription at "source," this newsletter focuses on "Improving and popularizing Ayurveda and all the holistic systems of medicine." This October 1 edition features an article written by Dr. Vijay Shekhar Annambhotla on the concept of immunity in Ayurveda. Doctor Annambhotla categorizes immunity into three types: Sahaja or congenital and natural; Kalaja or the time of day, season and one's age; and Yuktikruta or acquired. Quoting the article, "Yuktikruta Bala represents acquired immunity in which disease can be defended against through Ayurveda. Ayurveda focuses on three plans for enhancing immunity."






New York's "Bhajan Belt"


Posted on 2002/10/30 8:46:02 ( 883 reads )


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WOODSTOCK, NEW YORK, October 18, 2002: Spray-painted on a rock face along Route 28 in the Catskill Mountains is the Hindu sign for Om. It is a subtle suggestion of the energy that vibrates throughout the region, according to this recent article. Some call it the bhajan belt, applying a word derived from Sanskrit for devotional song to the area. The mid-Hudson valley area is home (or second home) to many influential stars of the new New Age. The solitude and energy of the area has attracted many East-leaning academics, musicians and authors who call the bhajan belt home. Robert A. F. Thurman, a Buddhist author and scholar, has had a home in Woodstock for close to 30 years; Sharon Gannon and David Life, the founders of the Jivamukti Yoga Center in Manhattan, purchased a place in Woodstock a few years ago. Sting, one of the early celebrity yogis, has a place in the mid-Hudson Valley, as do a number of Hindu musicians, including the chanter Krishna Das and Baghavan Das. Shyam Dass, a Sanskrit translator, musician and practitioner of bhakti yoga divides his time between northern India and Saugerties, near Woodstock. The bhajan belt is centered around Woodstock, an island of hippie culture in rural Ulster county. Shyam Dass has a theory about why the belt wraps around this town. Along with "the quality of the land," he said, "there's a wide breadth of acceptability for all types of people trying to understand the deeper elements of existence." The Catskills are filled with institutes, ashrams and retreat centers, among them the Sivananda Yoga ranch, in Woodbourne; the Shree Muktananda Ashram in South Fallsburg; the Karma Triyana Dharma Chakra center in Woodstock; a Greek Orthodox monastery; and a number of Buddhist monasteries.




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