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Kerala's Thrissur Pooram Witnessed by Thousands

Posted on 2003/5/12 9:49:02 ( 978 reads )


THRISSUR, INDIA, May 10, 2003: Thousands of people witnessed the famous Thrissur Pooram, the festival of festivals comprising a day and night carnival of colorful pageantry, a parade of caparisoned tuskers and a profuse exhibition of Kerala's traditional art forms. The Pooram started with the convergence of processions from eight temples in and around at the famous Vadakkumnathan Temple located on a hillock in the heart of the city. The famous Kudamattom (change of ornamental umbrellas) by mahouts on top of 15 caparisoned elephants lined up on each side of the sprawling Thekinkadu Maidan was held amidst the beat of percussion instruments. The Pooram, drawing a large crowd from far and wide cutting across religious and regional barriers, was started in 1798 through a royal proclamation by prince Raja Rama Varma, popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran, of erstwhile Kochi state. The main poorams conducted in a competitive spirit by Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady Devaswoms end with a spectacular display of the fireworks in the wee hours of Sunday. This year's pooram is the 205th edition of the annual event.

U.S. Bill to Ensure Religious Freedom in the Workplace

Posted on 2003/5/12 9:48:02 ( 867 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A.., May 9, 2003: A broad coalition of religious groups is pushing a bill that would protect religious expression in the workplace, but civil liberties groups are concerned the bill could be used to increase on-the-job proselytizing. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act would force employers to "reasonably accommodate" employees who want to wear religious articles or take time off for worship services. Current law mandates that employers allow such expression as long as it does not impose an "undue hardship" on the company. Supporters, however, say a 1977 Supreme Court ruling gutted the law and has not protected employees' rights. The American Jewish Committee, one of the bill's primary backers, points to cases like that of Amric Singh Rathour, a Sikh, who was fired as a New York City traffic cop when he refused to shave his religiously mandated beard or remove his turban. The employer mandate was inserted into Title VII of the federal Civil rights Act in 1972. Five years later, however, the Supreme Court ruled that even a minimal hardship on employers was not covered under the act. The new bill would define "undue hardship" as something that imposes "significant difficulty or expense" on the employer or that would keep an employee from carrying out the "essential functions" of the job. Opponents of the bill say there are no protections to prohibit an employee from forcing religious beliefs on other workers, or from allowing a worker to dictate his or her own duties because of religious or moral convictions.

"21 AD Asia," an Insightful Dance Festival

Posted on 2003/5/12 9:47:02 ( 1016 reads )


CHICAGO, U.S.A., May 11, 2003: Cross-cultural exchange and understanding were graciously woven through "21 AD Asia" -- a pared-down festival devoted to the evolution of traditional Chinese, Indian and Indonesian dance styles -- which opened Friday night at Links Hall. More than a concert, "21 AD Asia" became an experience for audiences to absorb and meditate on. The five artists demonstrated a fluid blending of traditional ethnic dance forms with modern and classical vocabulary -- resulting in a vivid cross-pollination. I Gusti Ngurah Kertayuda, a charismatic Indonesian dancer clad in ornate layers of red, green and gold sashes with hand-stitched embroidery and sequins, presented a formal Balinese solo. Called "Baris," it is rooted in ceremonial marches transformed into a strong yet delicate dance concentrated in elaborate eye movements and the bell-like fluttering of fingers. Also more culturally specific were three pieces by the Chicago-based Kalapriya Dance, headed by Pranita Jain (who curated the festival with sensitivity to detail). The company specializes in the Bharata Natyam style of southern India. Three dancers opened with "Alaripu," using a triangular formation to shape the space into a sacred universe of movement. Jain's solo, the tranquil marriage of a Navajo poem to Indian dance, with the artist metaphorically drawing the elements of air and fire into her own being to express a oneness with the universe, emitted a welcoming serenity. In fact, facial expression is so central to Indian dance that the live poetry narration seemed to pour forth from Jain's intensely outlined eyes. Hong Kong-born dancer-choreographer Ching Yin Lo teamed up with musician Carol Ng, who played a small harp-like pipa instrument, in "Battle Within." Lo, slipping behind and around two shimmering gold curtains, reshaped ancient Chinese warrior dances with modern movement to suggest the less tangible nature of inner demons. The most visible fusion arose from Shanti Kumari Johnson, a classical ballet dancer, whose heritage encompasses Mexico and India. In "Dhyana," Indian for meditation, she essentially journeys across the globe, Mexico's Spanish and Indian legacy and India. "21 AD Asia" runs through Sunday at 7 p.m. at Links, 3435 Sheffield Ave. Phone: 773-281-0824.

Delhi's Chinmaya Chetna Exhibit Opens

Posted on 2003/5/11 9:49:02 ( 1214 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 10, 2003: On May 5, 2003, Swami Tejomayananda, Head of the Chinmaya Mission worldwide, inaugurated the Chinmaya Chetna at the Chinmaya Center of World Understanding, 89 Lodi Road, New Delhi. The Chinmaya Chetna is a multimedia experiential gallery. With its different soundtracks, interactive media, special purpose lighting and aesthetic visuals, it evokes, at manifold levels, a heightened sense of awareness of Swami Chinmayananda's journey and its impact on countless lives. It has been conceived to heighten the awareness in visitors that an ordinary life can transform into one of extraordinary purpose given the right knowledge and understanding.

Theatre Production on Ramanujan, India's Greatest Mathematician, Opens in Berkeley, California

Posted on 2003/5/11 9:48:02 ( 948 reads )


BERKELEY, CA, April 30, 2003: Eighty years after his death, mathematician Srinivasa Iyengar Ramanujan is still surrounded in mystery. Ramanujan is one of India's great intellectual heroes, a brahmin who defied tradition to travel to England in order to study at Cambridge; a mathematical genius who attributed his brilliance to a personal relationship with a Hindu Goddess. His work has been used to help unravel knots as varied as polymer chemistry and cancer, yet how he arrived at this theorems is still unknown. It is the friendship between Ramanujan and his British benefactor, mathematician G.H. Hardy, that makes up Ira Hauptman's new play "Partition," directed by Barbara Oliver. Reviewed as witty, intelligent, and surprisingly accessible to the math-challenged, Partition follows Ramanujan's pilgrimage to Trinity College, where Hardy taught. The two men couldn't have been more dissimilar. The naive, inexhaustible Ramanujan was an observant Hindu, adept at dream interpretation and astrology. His work was marked by bold leaps and gut feelings. Hardy, ten years' Ramanujan's senior, was a stringent atheist who prized rationality and intellectual rigor above all. The play will be at the Aurora Theater in Berkeley through May 18. For performance times visit their website at www.auroratheatre.org. HPI would like a Hindu writer to see the play and provide a review. Contact ar@hindu.org.

H.H. the Dali Lama Discusses Meditation and Science in the New York Times

Posted on 2003/5/11 9:47:02 ( 918 reads )


DHARAMSALA, INDIA, April 26, 2003: "These are times when destructive emotions like anger, fear and hatred are giving rise to devastating problems throughout the world. While the daily news offers grim reminders of the destructive power of such emotions, the question we must ask is this: What can we do, person by person, to overcome them?" says Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, in his New York Times editorial. For the last 15 years, the Dalai Lama has engaged in a series of conversations with Western scientists. "I have been encouraging scientists to examine advanced Tibetan spiritual practitioners, to see what benefits these practices might have for others, outside religious context. The goal here is to increase our understanding of the world of the mind, of consciousness, and of our emotions," he writes. Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, has been studying the effects of Buddhist practices for cultivating compassion, equanimity or mindfulness, a state of alertness in which the mind does not get caught up in thoughts or sensations, but lets them come and go, much like watching a river flow by. According to Dr. Davidson, mindfulness meditation strengthens the neurological circuits that calm a part of the brain that acts as a trigger for fear and anger.

Satguru Speaks at Kauai Interfaith Breakfast

Posted on 2003/5/11 9:46:02 ( 932 reads )


KAUAI, U.S.A., May 11, 2003: H.H. Bodhinatha, Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam, gave this brief talk at an interfaith breakfast yesterday on Kauai honoring Kauai citizens serving in Iraq and discussing world peace. "Conditions in the world today are certainly troubling. Wars between countries, wars within countries plus a serious threat of international terrorist acts. One of the immediate consequences of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the presence of television coverage depicting people in a number of countries who strongly hate the United States, some to the point of wishing violence upon it. Watching these shocking reports on television, we were quite impressed by the extent and seriousness of the problem of prejudice in the world today. Attitudes of prejudice toward those who are of a different race, nation, or religion can start simply as distrust which can then deepen into dislike and deepen further into hatred which can turn into a desire to inflict injury. Are we born with these attitudes? Certainly not. We are taught them at home, at school and elsewhere. The solution for greater peace in the world, though a long-term one, is that humanity needs, in the century ahead, to teach its children tolerance, openness to different ways of life, different beliefs, different customs of dress and language.

"Humanity needs to stop teaching its children to fear those who are different from themselves, stop teaching them hatred for peoples of other colors and other religions, stop teaching them to see the world as a field of conflict and instead instill in them an informed appreciation and a joyous reverence for the grand diversity we find around us. It is in the home that we can change the world for the better. It is the qualities we cultivate in our children that create the world of the future. Therefore, the most effective form of protest to the violence in the world today is for parents to raise their children to be tolerant of those who are different from them. Parents indeed are the ones who are empowered to bring more peace into the world. Instead of teaching children to be intolerant and to dislike and distrust, hate and inflict injury on those who are different, parents can teach them to be tolerant and like and trust, befriend and help. Secondarily, the efforts of parents can be further strengthened by religious leaders in our houses of worship. Kauai already sets an excellent example for the rest of the world of a tolerant multi-ethnic society in which the various communities function well together. We pray today that it continues to do so by raising future generations of its children with a prejudice free consciousness. As the granite sign installed at Lydgate Park says so wonderfully: 'One Island, Many Peoples, All Kauaians.' Indeed, by being a living example of tolerance, the Kauai community can influence other communities to be more tolerant and in that way help change the world into a more peaceful one."

Request for Book on Sri Vidya Puja

Posted on 2003/5/11 9:45:02 ( 1161 reads )


LITTLETON, COLORADO, May 11, 2003: Shreeram Narapareddy is seeking a book in English or Telugu translation of Sanskirt on the Sri Vidya Puja process or padatti. If you can help, kindly e-mail him at "source" above.

Punjab Saint On Pada Yatra From Kashmir To Kanyakumari

Posted on 2003/5/7 9:49:02 ( 1225 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, May 4, 2003: Upset by the 13-year-long bloodshed and recent Nadimarg carnage in the Kashmir Valley, Swami Gurmeet Singh, a young saint from Taran Tarn District of Punjab, has started his pada yatra (pilgrimage by foot) from Kashmir Valley to Kanyakumari to deliver the message of brotherhood and love among his fellow countrymen. Talking to reporters, Swamiji said his pada yatra is part of an international peace mission. He said, "I undertook my pada yatra from the famous Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar district of Kashmir Valley on April 6, and people of all communities including, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs wished me success in my mission. Love is a strong weapon and it can even mold militants to shun the violence and work for brotherhood. Kashmiri people are peace loving and the present problems will end once they are treated with love. The love is the only weapon which will end the hatred and help in restoration of ultimate peace." Swami estimates it will take him about 16 to 17 months to complete the pada yatra.

Indian Americans Support California Community Center

Posted on 2003/5/7 9:48:02 ( 957 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, May 5, 2003: The Indian Community Center opened in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to 150,000 Indian Americans, in February. Rajwant Ahluwalia, who came to the U.S. 20 years ago, says he'd been waiting since then for a place like this to open. "The moment I read about this facility in the newspaper I was very excited and my family was excited too because we never had these services for our community." He and other Indian-American parents like him would like to see their sons and daughters take a class on Indian languages, music, yoga or mediation. There are also free legal and medical clinics and orientations for recent emigres. Seniors can attend daily programs, and young people can drop in for karaoke and Bollywood movies. Cofounders, Gautam Godhwani and his brother Anil, were the driving force behind the opening of the facility. They were dot com entrepreneurs who made their fortunes, retired, and then turned full time to creating this center. The Godhwani brothers contributed half-a-million dollars in seed money for renovating the facility, hiring initial staff, and doing research. Then they raised $1 million from the Indian community to run the center.

North Carolina School Of The Arts Produces Ramayana

Posted on 2003/5/7 9:47:02 ( 929 reads )

Winston-Salem Journal

NORTH CAROLINA, U.S.A., May 2, 2003: The North Carolina School of the Arts is presenting a performance of the Ramayana now through Sunday May 11, at the Catawba Theater on campus. The adaptation is by Anthony Clarvoe. The acting is consistently strong, both among the principals and the supporting actors, many of who play multiple roles. Anyone interested in performance times can contact Susan Gilmore at sgilmore@wsjournal.com.

Mother's Day, a Time to Honor and Improve

Posted on 2003/5/7 9:46:02 ( 960 reads )


UNITED STATES, May 7, 2003: A Save the Children publication, just in time for Mother's Day, may give one pause as we honor our mother, the giver of life. This year's State of the World's Mothers report focuses on the tens of millions of mothers and children whose lives have been shattered by armed conflict, bringing attention to critical protection needs in war-torn communities around the world. The report suggests actions required to support women who are raising the world's future generations under the most horrific conditions imaginable, and to shield children from the brutal excesses of war. A first ever "Conflict Protection Scorecard" analyzes 40 of the world's most dangerous conflict zones and shows where abuses against women and children are greatest. In addition, Save the Children presents the fourth annual "Mothers' Index," documenting conditions for mothers and children in 117 developed and developing countries. In India, where the mother is worshipped as Goddess, women rank 89 in the mother's index.

SARS Affects Kailash Pilgrimage as Beijing Closes Tibetan Border

Posted on 2003/5/6 9:49:02 ( 1009 reads )


McCLOUD GANJ, INDIA, May 6, 2003: A pilgrim in McCloud Ganj hill station, home of the Dali Lama, reports that the Chinese have closed the border of Tibet, canceling this year's Kailash pilgrimage. Hinduism Today's reporter in New Delhi spoke to a number of journalists and officials of the Ministry of External Affairs [MEA] on the subject since yesterday and he reports the position is not clear. "Nobody is in a position to confirm that the Kailash Pilgrimage has been canceled. An official of the MEA, Mr. Thangal told me a few minutes back that the Kailash Pilgrimage is not canceled as yet. Though Mr. Thangal did say that it could be postponed by a few weeks. He told me that the Indian Government would not like to cancel the pilgrimage. He said that every year the Chinese Government gives permission for this pilgrimage and there is no reason to believe that this year the permission would not be given. If there is some impediment from the Chinese side due to SARS problem, a formal announcement clarifying the position would be made by MEA sometime in the future." The Hindustan Times has reported on their website (source) that "Tibet meanwhile has been virtually cutoff with international air links halted and border crossings sealed to prevent SARS infiltrating one of the few places in China so far free of the killer bug." Meanwhile, a stalwart pilgrim waits in the McCloud Ganj hill station for the border to reopen and the opportunity to pilgrimage to Mount Kailash.

Indian Laugh Clubs Inspire Germans

Posted on 2003/5/6 9:48:02 ( 939 reads )


BERLIN, GERMANY, May 2, 2003: The Ninth International Humor Congress, opening Friday in Stuttgart, offers an ideal opportunity for Germans serious about putting a bit more laughter into their lives. A series of seminars with titles such as "Discover the Clown Within" and "Clowning Around in Hospital" promise the social and therapeutic benefits of gelotology, otherwise known as the science of laughter. "In our countries, imbued with Calvinism and Puritanism and more staid than Catholic countries, we feel a particular need to liberate our emotions through humor," explained Michael Titze. Titze, a psychoanalyst who is scientific director for the Congress, leads group therapy for people suffering from social phobias when he's not running "humor universities" against depression. Some 1,000 educators, health professionals and psychotherapists were expected at the Congress being held in a Protestant-run hospital. There are already 40 or so laugh clubs set up in Germany. The concept, which was also being presented at Stuttgart, was conceived in India in the mid-1990's by Madan Kataria. The aim is "to activate the healing force of laughter, using the principle of yoga, and so contribute to peace in the world."

Quebec Family Encourages Children to Take the Best of the East and Best of the West

Posted on 2003/5/5 9:49:02 ( 977 reads )

The Gazette

MONTREAL, CANADA, April 27, 2003: Migrating to Montreal, Canada, from Lucknow, India, in the 1970's, Asha and Govind Saxena have held fast to their Indian culture and Hindu religion for nearly 30 years. They are among 58,000 Montrealers that have South Asian roots and who have tried to establish a balance between the East and the West in their family life. Asha Saxena says, "Our family has grown, integrated and done well. We have told our children: Take the best of both worlds." However, Asha admits that she was uneasy when her boys wanted to date, as her own marriage was arranged. Asha gave up a law career to raise her two sons, but now she has become a teacher at a local college where she wears business suits to work. When she arrives home, she dons her Hindu attire. Govind Saxena, a Dawson college professor says, "We live in a global community, our sons are examples of this." The couple has two sons that are engineers, one lives in Washington, D.C. and the other in Uganda. At the couple's recent 25th wedding anniversary, the two boys gave a speech in honor of their parents. In the tribute, they spoke of their desire to raise their own children the way they had been raised.

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