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Archaeological Survey of India Takes Over Kalkaji Temple

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:46:02 ( 1148 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 14, 2003: Tourism and Culture Minister Jagmohan has directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to declare the Kalkaji temple in south Delhi a protected monument. The notification is aimed at protecting the temple from people who misuse the temple's premises and property. The ASI will be empowered to clear the area of all illegal construction that has mushroomed near the shrine with the backing of those who run its affairs. The notification will also allow the ASI to maintain the structure and regulate the admission of devotees to the temple.

The temple attracts large numbers of people from the Capital and neighboring areas. Its earnings, through donations and offerings, run into many thousands of US dollars. But the temple is poorly maintained and in an extremely dilapidated condition. Control over funds and the day-to-day administration of the affairs of the temple are in the hands of the representatives of a brahmin clan, consisting of about 350 families, who own the temple. The notification will not change that. The temple is extremely ancient, dating back likely thousands of years.

Nathi Ram Bhardwaj, a priest of the temple, says over 100 sweepers clean the huge temple complex. He accuses civic agencies of not providing sewerage and water connection. Bhardwaj also said there is a stay order from the Delhi High Court against the takeover of the temple by the Central government.

A Rare Friendship Between a Leopard and a Cow

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:45:02 ( 1575 reads )


GUJARAT, INDIA, May 12, 2003: A rare phenomena has captured the hearts and minds of inhabitants of a village in Gujarat. It all started last October when a leopard began making regular nocturnal visits to a cow in the village. At first the villagers were leery of the visits, but word soon spread about the unusual relationship. Rohit Vyas explained, "It was unbelievable. They approached each other at very close proximity and the fearless cow would lick the leopard on its head and neck." Efforts by the Forest department to capture the leopard proved fruitless. Soon the villagers were protecting the leopard. Apparently its frequent visits have kept other animals from damaging crops and crop yields have gone up by 30 per cent.

Sindhu Darshan Photo Exhibition In New Delhi

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:44:02 ( 984 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 20 ,2003: The Sindhu Darshan Photo Exhibition was inaugurated by Shri Jagmohan, Minister of Tourism and Culture, on May 18, 2003, at the Tea Lounge of New Delhi's Ashok Hotel. The exhibition will remained open for the public until May 19. Speaking to the journalists on this occasion Sri Jagmohan said the exhibition is connected to the Sindhu Darshan Festival which is celebrated at Leh, Ladakh, from June 1 to the 3 every year and is now entering its sixth year. According to Shri Jagmohan, the festival has imparted a national focus to the river Sindhu which gave India its name and provided a good number of seeds for its rich civilization. This annual festival of national pride is dedicated to the mighty river Indus, from which the name India (and Hindu) has been derived, and to the men and women of the armed forces who protect India's borders. The festival is jointly organized by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India.

The river Sindhu symbolizes the power and permanence of the ancient Indian civilization , which evolved over a period of thousands of years. The river name comes from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu," mentioned in the Rig Veda. The Sindhu Darshan aims at projecting the Indus as a symbol of India's unity and communal harmony.

A variety of cultural activities awaited the enthusiasts at this three-day festival. A host of renowned artists enthralled visitors with their colorful performances. The Sindhu Darshan Festival 2003 witnessed the august presence of a galaxy of dignitaries, among them His Holiness Kanchi Sankaracharya, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Minister for Defense George Fernandes, and the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayed.

The three-day festival featured an all-religions meeting with participation of leading figures from all faiths, a literary seminar with the presence of prominent writers and literary figures over countrywide, a photographers and painters camp and a grand cultural extravaganza on the inaugural day. A star attraction was a specially choreographed performance on the Sindhu river by the eminent artists Shovna Narayan, Bharati Shivaji and Kiran Sehgal. Another prominent performance was a musical evening by the renowned Shaabri Brothers. A host of artists and performers showcased the best of Ladakhi music, dance and culture.

As part of the process of creating awareness for the festival, a touring exhibition was held at various locations in the country. This brought to light the various aspects of the festival and the beauty of the Ladakh region through the lens of veteran photographer and editor of Panchjanya Sri Tarun Vijay, who was in fact the brain behind it. Sri Tarun Vijay feels that Sindhu Darshan should be a very pious thing for all Indians. Says Tarun, " I think Sindhu Darshan must be treated as a tirtha (pilgrimage), the fifth one, where people of all religions, languages, castes must come and feel the message of national unity."

Washington State Hosts Tyagaraja Music Festival

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:43:02 ( 976 reads )

Associated Press

RICHLAND, WASHINGTON, U.S.A., May 5, 2003: Members of the India Association of the Tri-Cities took part in the 16th annual Tyagaraja Music Festival at Timbers Apartments in Richland, Washington. About a dozen musicians sat on the floor in the clubhouse singing and playing the music of the great composer, Tyagaraja Shishyaparmpara, more commonly known as Saint Tyagaraja. "There is lots of ornamentation in East Indian music" said Shas Mattigod of Richland. "The music we perform here today is from southern India." For nearly 150 years, Hindus around the world have celebrated Saint Tyagaraja's life and music. He wrote more than 900 complete compositions during his lifetime from 1767 to 1847. "Tyagaraja created all forms of music, from love songs to spirituals," Mattigod said. "Like Mozart, he was clearly a genius."

Delhi Bride Gains Worldwide Attention by Calling the Cops on Groom

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:49:02 ( 925 reads )


NOIDA, INDIA, May 16, 2003: The musicians were playing, the 2,000 guests were dining, the Hindu priest was preparing the ceremony and the bride was dressed in red, her hands and feet festively painted with henna. Then, the bride's family says, the groom's family moved in for the kill. The dowry of two televisions, two home theater sets, two refrigerators, two air-conditioners and one car was too cheap. They wanted US$25,000 in rupees, now, under the wedding tent. As a free-for-all erupted between the two families, the bartered bride put her hennaed foot down. She reached for her royal blue cellphone and dialed 100. By calling the police, Nisha Sharma, a 21-year-old computer student, saw her potential groom land in jail and herself land in the national spotlight as India's new overnight sensation. "Are they marrying with money, or marrying with me?" Ms. Sharma asked today, her dark eyes glaring under arched eyebrows. In the next room a fresh wave of reporters waited to interview her, sitting next to the unopened boxes of her wedding trousseau. Her father, a believer in arranged marriages, found the groom by placing a classified ad in two of Delhi's elite English-language newspapers, a common practice here.

Today he recommended that fathers of brides check the bona fides of prospective in-laws. His potential son-in-law was not a computer engineer, he said, but a computer instructor. The mother was not a vice principal of a private school, but a gym teacher. That fact came home to him on Sunday night when Mrs. Dalal slapped him across the face for refusing her demand for cash. "The finger marks of her slap, later, after four hours, figured in my medical legal examination. Then Savitry Devi spit on my face," he continued, referring to the groom's aunt. "This was dowry cum blackmailing. I wanted to call police and dial my mobile, but it was snatched by somebody." Instead, his daughter called the police.

Man Struggles to Keep Oasis for Cows in Gujarat

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:48:02 ( 929 reads )

www.ndtv.com (archive)

GUJARAT, INDIA, May 11, 2003: Wells in north Gujarat have run dry but there is one cattle camp in Surendranagar district with nearly 30,000 cattle still in operation. Veja Bhagat, who has been running the place for over 30 years has to buy 50 tankers of water a day, 600 kilos of bajra and 180 tons of dry grass, which add up to a daily expense of US$9,500. As a result he's $63,615 in debt. "I don't have any wealth. I took loans, borrowed money and mortgaged land to run this place," he said. The money for his camp also comes from donations from all over the state. Despite the huge debt, Veja Bhagat says he will never shut the camp. "Any man would beg, borrow to run his home. These animals cannot speak for themselves. I will do anything for them," he says. His huge kitchen employs 100 people and feeds any cattle that walk in. While cattle in many parts of Gujarat are dying of starvation, this is one place where people come to ensure they can survive another year of drought.

Rajasthan Seeks Sadhus' Help to Build University

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:47:02 ( 981 reads )


JAIPUR, INDIA, May 9, 2003: Strapped for money, the Rajasthan Government approached the sadhus of the state to raise US$297,526.87 for a new university. "We have entered into an agreement with the sadhus of Triveni Ashram in Shahpura (near Jaipur) for collecting money for a new Sanskrit University," Deputy Chief Minister Kamla said. "According to the agreement, the sadhus, led by Mahant Narayan Das, would collect money and build a new complex for the university," the Deputy CM said. The project would be completed within two years. The sadhus aren't asking for much in return. "They have asked us to name the university after 16th century saint, Guru Ramananda. We will do this as soon as the new complex is handed over to us," Kamla said. The project is already on the roll. "The government has identified over 200 acres of land. And the Mahant and his followers have started pumping in the money," she said. HPI adds: The Sanskrit University project, financially supported by the sadhus, was recently launched by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

Medicine, Astrology and Vastu Complement Each Other

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:46:02 ( 1093 reads )


PATIALA, INDIA, May 17, 2003: What type of illnesses are you prone to? What will be the nature of the disease and its duration? How does one go about diagnosing a particular disease -- do we take into account physical symptoms only? "Some of these questions that have perturbed mankind for ages find ready answers in the science of astrology," says Dr. Dinesh Sharma. Sharma, recently awarded the Dhanwantri Award from the All-India Integrated Medical Association (AIIMA) of Punjab, teaches in Desh Bhagat Ayurvedic College and Hospital of Amloh (Mandi Gobindgarh). He is working towards the fusion of ayurveda, astrology and vastu for treatment of patients. These sciences complement each other and trace their roots to the Vedas.

Ammaji Encourages Women and Chastises Men

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:45:02 ( 1177 reads )


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, May 19, 2003: Excerpted from H.H. Mata Amritanandamayi Devi's speech at the Global Peace Initiative of Women Spiritual Leaders: "Captivity is in the mind. Look at the elephant, which can uproot huge trees with its trunk. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries to break free. But it isn't strong enough to do so. Realizing its efforts are useless, it finally gives up. When this elephant grows up, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn't make any attempt to break free. This is what is happening to women. Society does not allow women to rise. It has created a blockage, preventing this great strength from pouring forth. In a village there lived a deeply spiritual woman who found immense happiness in serving others. She was soon made a priest by the villagers. Since she was the first woman priest in the area, the male priests didn't like it at all. One day, all the priests were invited to a religious gathering at a place three hours away by boat. On boarding the boat, the priests discovered that the woman was also invited. The boat set off, but an hour later the motor died and the boat stopped. There was no petrol. Nobody knew what to do. At this point, the woman priest stood up and said, 'Don't worry, I'll go and fetch some fuel.' She stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water. The priests were astonished, but were quick to remark, 'Look at her! She doesn't even know how to swim!' This is the attitude of men in general. They are conditioned to belittle and condemn the achievements of women. Men treat women like potted plants, making it impossible for them to grow to their full potential. In ancient India, the Sanskrit word a husband used to address his wife were patni (the one who leads the husband through life); dharmapatni (the one who guides her husband on the path of dharma or righteousness and responsibility); and sahadharmacharini (the one who moves together with her husband on the path of dharma). All these terms imply that traditionally women were meant to enjoy the same status as men in society, or perhaps even a higher one. In reality, all men are a part of women. Every child first lies in the mother's womb as a part of the woman's very being. Women are essentially mothers, the creators of life. Is God a man or a woman? The answer to that question is that God is neither male nor female. God is "That." But if you insist on God having a gender, then God is more female than male because the masculine is always contained within the feminine. Masculine energy is static. A man's mind easily becomes obsessed with his thoughts and actions. The mind and intellect of a man usually get struck in the work that he does, and because of this, most men cannot separate their professional life from the family life. Feminine energy, on the other hand, is fluid like a river. That's why each woman has a dharma towards the world and to herself. Along with men, she should shoulder equal responsibility in the growth and development of society."

Sadhus Accused of Wasting Money by Refusing to Change Kumbha Mela Route

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:44:02 ( 895 reads )


NASHIK, INDIA, May 14, 2003: The Kumbha Mela is scheduled to begin July 30, 2003, and about 250,000 sadhus and 700,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Nashik and Trimbakeshwar for the rituals till August, 2004. A new route constructed for the sadhus (without their consultation) for their holy baths during the forthcoming Kumbha Mela has been declared unusable as all the sadhus have refused to use it. At a meeting of officials and sadhus, the Mahants (head priests) of various akharas (monastic orders) said they would stick to the old route from the Sadhu Gram to the Ramkund at Godavari river for a holy dip during the Kumbha Mela. They said they would not use the new route which involved a detour of about half a kilometer and has a crematorium (very inauspicious) on the way. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde yesterday mooted a proposal of reserving land for the sadhus who visit Nashik during the Kumbha Mela. After a meeting with officials to review preparations, Shinde said encroachments near Panchavati was a recurring problem and suggested that the land on which the Sadhu Gram had been created be reserved permanently for sadhus. He said the municipal corporation should ensure that the land is kept free from encroachments.

An Argument For Nonviolence in a Time of Preemptive Warfare

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:43:02 ( 932 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A., May 11, 2003: In a review of Jonathan Schell's new book, "The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People," Curiel says, "It's clear that the peace movement in the United States and abroad succeeded on a basic level: They gave voice to an ideology that -- in the long run -- may be more powerful than B-52 bombers and Pentagon blueprints." As Schell carefully documents in this book (which took 12 years to research and write), nonviolent resistance always sows the seeds of positive change, eventually creating openings that may not be apparent in the fury and emotion of the moment. Mohandas Gandhi's attempts in the early 1900s to win rights for Indians in South Africa paved the way for his revolutionary nonviolence movement that crested with India's independence from Britain in 1947. President Woodrow Wilson's failed effort to create a League of Nations in 1917 led, years later, to the United Nations. Schell cites a long list of such examples, but he also examines the apparent successes of war -- especially in the 20th century, when both world wars set new standards of military possibilities. For the full insightful review, click on "source" above.

1796 Treaty States United States Government not Based Upon a Specific Religious Foundation

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:42:02 ( 1069 reads )


KAUAI, U.S.A., May 19, 2003: Yesterday's HPI included a story about America's alleged Christian, Judiac-Christian or Judiac-Christian-Islamic cultures, depending on one's point of view. Some research uncovered what are generally called The Barbary Treaties, a number of past legal agreements between the United States and Tripoly (North African coastal area) intending to protect American ships. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and Tripoly was ratified by the U.S. Senate June 10, 1797, during the Presidency of John Quincy Adams. While the language may be antiquated, the intent is clear as Article 11 states, "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims), and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Golfer Vijay Singh's Remark Invites Criticism on India

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:49:02 ( 1203 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 16, 2003: India is having to bare the brunt for golfer Vijay Singh's unpopular stand on a woman golfer joining the men's tour. Singh, a Fijian of Indian ancestry, has briefly become one of the American sporting world's targets, right up there with the Augusta National for refusing women members, because of his opposition to top female golfer Annika Sorenstam playing the men's circuit for one match. Some sports journalists are attributing Singh's stand to his Indian heritage. "Singh isn't a racist; he's a sexist. And he comes by it naturally. His birth certificate might say Fiji, but Singh is Indian by heritage. Nothing against India or Hinduism, but it's certainly fair to say that culture hasn't been at the fore when it comes to gender equity," Washington Times sportswriter Barker Davis wrote. USA Today columnist Jon Saraceno was even harsher. "What we also have is a clash of cultures and social dogmas," he began. "Sorenstam is from Sweden, a liberal, open society. She's probably wondering what the fuss is about. I doubt she possesses the same traditional male-female notions of Singh, born in Fiji to Indian parents. I don't know how much Singh was influenced by his ancestry, if at all, but this much I do know," Saraceno continued, "The institutionalized subordination, exploitation and brutalization of women remains ingrained in that society. 'Bride burning' still occurs. From 1999-2001, a total of 6,347 Indian women were murdered by fire, according to Indian government statistics." Golfers of other ethnic backgrounds have also criticized her participation, with Singh singled out for special condemnation. Following his controversial interview, Singh has clarified that he was opposed to Sorenstam playing with men purely on sporting grounds, because the game takes greater upper body strength and Sorenstam would fare poorly among men, and that his comments came out "sounding wrong."

Has the United States Become Judeo-Christian-Islamic?

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:48:02 ( 1004 reads )

Religion News Service

UNITED STATES, May 17, 2003: Leading Muslim organizations say it's time for Americans to stop using the phrase "Judeo-Christian" when describing the values and character that define the United States. Better choices, they say, are "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" or "Abrahamic," referring to Abraham, the patriarch held in common by the monotheistic big three religions. The new language should be used "in all venues where we normally talk about Judeo-Christian values, starting with the media, academia, statements by politicians and comments made in churches, synagogues and other places," said Agha Saeed, founder and chairman of the American Muslim Alliance, a political group headquartered in Fremont, Calif. According to a 1984 scholarly article by religion writer Mark Silk, "Judeo-Christian" wasn't used to refer to a common American outlook of values and beliefs until World War II, when the supposedly Christian Nazis and their death camps made future references to "our Christian civilization" sound ominously exclusive. "'Judeo-Christian,' which in 1952 looked like an incredibly inclusive term, doesn't look very inclusive now," said Silk, now director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, in Hartford. Conn., in an interview. "So we probably need a new term." Osama Siblani, an influential voice among American Muslims and publisher of the Arab-American News in Dearborn, Mich., takes an even broader view. "I believe we should call this the United States of America, made up of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Jews and others," said Siblani. "This stuff about language has to stop. We are all just Americans."

HPI adds: America's founding fathers consciously avoided creating a "Christian nation." Thomas Jefferson, author of the declaration of Independence, authored in 1786 the "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom," which set strong precedent for the standing of religion in the new country. He wrote that during a debate to adopt the bill, "An amendment [which proposed to insert] the words, 'Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion,' [was rejected] by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindoo and the infidel [any non-Christian] of every denomination."

U.S. Conference Planned on the Impact of Swami Vivekananda in the West

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:47:02 ( 933 reads )


MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A., May 17, 2003: The Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, is holding a two-day conference on June 28 and 29, 2003, on the "Impact of Swami Vivekananda's Voyage to the West" at the UMD campus. This unique event will bring together academicians, monks of the Ramakrishna order, students, and the general public to discuss Swami Vivekananda's impact on the West along with the relevance of his teachings today and in the future. For additional information on the conference, kindly contact "source" above.

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