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India's Dysfunctional Elephants Become a Jumbo Problem


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:49:02 ( 830 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 2, 2002: As more and more elephants that were once employed in logging camps enter the free market, India grapples with the problem of such domesticated tuskers being turned dysfunctional as a result of rough treatment and little up-to-date medical care from their unprofessional owners. Today, India's population of domestic elephants is well above 2,000 and growing. The animals are valuable. A big tusker can fetch up US$14,500, which is the price of an high-end car here. But they are expensive to keep and owners often cut corners, spawning an increasingly problematic population of elephants. There is a legendary bond between elephant handlers, called "mahouts," and their charges, but for the most part no such bond exists between elephants and their new owners. One famous place where elephants can be taken home for a price is Sonepur in the state of Bihar. A traditional fair was inaugurated there last week at which, it is said, literally anything can be bought and sold. Calculations by locals put the turnover figure for elephants alone at $207,103.00. There is no sales tax and no regulations beyond tenuous attempts by the state's wildlife department to monitor the elephants. Many of the elephants have dubious pasts and are of doubtful disposition, which could make them liabilities to new owners who, unlike the traditional mahouts, do not know the art of harmonious coexistence.






Goldsmiths in Orissa May Face Extinction


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:48:02 ( 859 reads )


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ORISSA, INDIA, November 28, 2002: Goldsmiths in Orissa who craft handmade pieces of jewelry from gold and silver are suffering a plight that may bring an end to their profession. Machine-made ornaments now dominate the marketplace and merchants are able to buy from these suppliers on credit. Trinath Sahoo, a traditional craftsman says, "Big jewelers hardly display handmade jewelry in shop windows these days. So even if one were willing to buy a nice handmade piece, one would not have the choice." Many states such as Maharashtra and Kerala have placed restrictions on sale of machine-made jewelry. So far Orissa has done nothing to help the traditional craftsmen. Market sources say nearly ten thousand workers are facing the prospect of unemployment.






Cross-Cultural Marriages Gain Popularity in Canada


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:47:02 ( 871 reads )


Source: Toronto Star





TORONTO, CANADA, November 23, 2002: Young Hindus growing up in Canada are often choosing a life partner who is not a Hindu. In fact, according to Dr. Ravi Shrivastava, a volunteer priest at the Mississauga Arya Samaj, three out of every four wedding ceremonies he performed this year were "mixed" marriages, that is young Hindus marrying mostly white Christians. Hindu parents often oppose marriage outside their religion and their objections are interpreted as racist. However, it is generally believed the Hindu Canadian parents only want to preserve their culture and religion and that they fear a cross-cultural marriage will not do that. Ajit Adhopia, author, says, "In a multicultural multiracial society, mixed marriages are inevitable. I believe Hinduism will survive and thrive in Canada." HPI adds: The half century of ministry by Hinduism Today's founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, in the West revealed that more often than not these mixed marriages do not result in a strong Hindu next generation. It is far better, he advised, for husband and wife to be of the same religion.






Give Youth a Chance, Says Swami Chaitanya


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:46:02 ( 970 reads )


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MULUND, INDIA, November 20, 2002: "Youth are blamed for being careless and useless, but in reality I feel that they are cared for less and are used less, and as a result the costliest resources of the society is getting wasted," said Swami Atma Chaitanya, a spiritual leader from the Chinmaya Mission. Swami is in Mulund to deliver a one-week series of lectures on personality development and self-development for all age groups, but especially youth. The event has highlighted the fact that spiritualism still occupies a major part in the lives of individuals from all walks of life. "Spiritualism plays an important role in the personality development of individuals. It is the answer to modern-day ills like restlessness and lack of concentration. Those following our advice find it easy to cope with such troubles. Even people from other religions find it easy to practice their own religion after acquiring spiritualistic skills from our ancient scriptures," Swami Atma Chaitanya said. Around 1,000 persons have attended the function since Friday. The function is being held twice a day in morning and evening sessions, and Swami is delivering spiritual lectures based on the Hindu religious books, especially Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads as well as commentaries of renowned Hindu saints, including the late Swami Chinmayananda.






Sabarimal Pilgrims Go Wireless


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:45:02 ( 895 reads )


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SABARIMALA, INDIA, November 20, 2002: The exclusive mobile phone service introduced by BSNL in Sabarimala is a controversial issue in devout Ayyappan circles. Sabarimala Melsanthi Sankaranarayanan Nampoothiri has asked that "the use of the mobile phone on the premises of the temple should be banned. Cell phones will be a disturbance to the pilgrims who offer prayers and have darshan (literally, "sight") at the sopanam," he said. Sabarimala Thanthri Kandararu Mohanaru adds, "Strict control should be imposed on carrying and using of mobile phones near sopanam, outside the sreekovil, the sacred 18 steps and the area around Sanctum Sanctorum. The pilgrims who visit the temple for darshan should have to follow certain customary practices."






Hanuman To Star in India's First Animated Feature Film


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:44:02 ( 974 reads )


Source: Associated Press Worldstream





MUMBAI, INDIA, November 21, 2002: Hanuman is the star character in India's first animated feature film. "Hanuman," is scheduled to be released in 2003 in Hindi and English, and distributed in Asia, the United States and Britain. The movie depicts Hanuman protecting villages and Hindu priests by chasing away fire-breathing dragons, seven-headed serpents and green demons. "We have tried to go beyond Superman. Hanuman is like a super super hero," said V.G. Samant, head of animation at production company Silvertoon. Some 65 software and animation artists worked on the film for more than a year, along with researchers who pored over Hindu scriptures. Samant said, "Our research has shown that Hanuman is the favorite character of children in Thailand. Gods like Hanuman, Rama, Sita and others are well-known in the Philippines and Indonesia. People there know our mythology. A hit Hindi film makes around US$5 to $6 million in India, while a well-received foreign animation film makes up to $400,000 to $800,000," said Komal Nata, who produces Film Information, a movie trade guide. He said Indians were not yet captivated by animation and prefer actual characters. "But mythology can make a difference," he said. If the Hanuman film "has a soul, people may change their perception about animation."






Divorces Wreak Havoc on British Kids


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:43:02 ( 843 reads )


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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, November 29, 2002: According to The Center for Policy Studies, children are suffering because family stability in Britain is in decline, with marriage rates the lowest on record and the number of divorces the highest in Europe. Titled "Broken Hearts," the report charts the unfolding tragedy of family decline and the consequences for society in Britain. It serves as an excellent reminder to men and women everywhere on the importance of marriage, especially to the happy and good upbringing of children. If parents separate, children are more likely to develop behavioral problems, perform less well at school, become sexually active at a younger age (often to compensate for a lack of love at home), suffer depression and turn to drugs, smoking and heavy drinking. Although most husbands and wives think that in an unhappy marriage, divorce is best to avoid conflict, their separation is more devastating and traumatic for children than living in a home where arguments take place, the study says. Parental separation forces children to acknowledge that there is division between the two people they love most in the world and to choose where their loyalties lie. Even if a parent takes a new partner, children were more likely to suffer health, social and educational problems than children in homes where parents remained together. In Britain it is believed there is collective insecurity and a sense of social disintegration. The accumulating evidence states that the main factor was the rapid decline of traditional family life, with the resultant severe consequences on children. Britain was experiencing a record low in marriages and at the same time had become the divorce capital of Europe. Despite a far higher population, there are now fewer than 300,000 marriages in Britain each year, down from 480,280 in 1972. There are more than 150,000 divorces annually, a massive rise over the 27,150 in 1961. Four in 10 children were now born outside marriage. More children are conceived outside marriage than within, with 33 per cent of conceptions outside marriage being aborted, compared to 8 per cent within marriage. Britain had more teenage girls becoming pregnant than any other country in Europe by a huge margin. The rate in 1996 was over 30 per 1,000 women under 20, the next contender being Portugal with under 20 per 1,000 and in France there were fewer than 10 per 1,000. An astonishing 90 percent of British teenage girls who become mothers are not married.






Natya Parva, 2002, Takes the Stage in Mumbai


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:42:02 ( 880 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, November 26, 2002: Sangeet Natak Akademi, the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, is organizing Natya Parva 2002, a 16-day theater festival which will be held in Mumbai beginning December 1. Natya Parva 2002 will feature 20 eminent directors and some of their best works in a variety of Indian languages. The audience will also get an opportunity to experience plays in other Indian languages such as Kashmiri, Dongri, Assamese, Manipuri, Tamil and Punjabi. The plays range from the traditional to modern experimentation and represent the entire spectrum of contemporary theater, from Kalidasa and Shakespeare to the exceptional works of contemporary Indian playwrights.






"Loving Ganesha, Hinduism's Endearing Elephant-faced God" Is Now On-Line


Posted on 2002/12/2 8:41:02 ( 1334 reads )


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KAUAI, U.S.A., December 1, 2002: Himalayan Academy Publications continues its tradition of providing in-depth internet resources with the on-line release of the entire text of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's very popular book "Loving Ganesha, Hinduism's Endearing Elephant-Faced God." India's rich spirituality begins with Ganesha. Even the most austere yogi starts his inward journey by invoking the God who softens karma and guides dharma. He reigns over our beginnings, our changes, earthly decisions and problems -- always there when needed, never aloof. Here a Hindu master invites us into Ganapati's interior meanings, rites, mantras and sacred symbols, unfolding an intimate depiction of the mysterious Deity. The on-line version includes over 300 images from the original print edition, documentation of Lord Ganesha's global "Milk Miracle," a complete description of how to perform a puja at home to Lord Ganesha, traditional lore from Ganapati's homeland of Maharashtra, India and more. Loving Ganesha is part of the comprehensive works of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a traditional satguru who was immersed in the global Hindu renaissance for half a century. He was named by New Delhi's World Religious Parliament as a Jagadacharya or world teacher, elected one of three presidents to represent Sanatana Dharma at the 1993 Chicago Parliament of World's Religions, and presented the U Thant Peace Award during the historic 2000 United Nations' Millennium World Peace Summit for Religious Leaders.






Mothers Are Failing in Their Duty, says Amritanandamayi


Posted on 2002/12/1 8:49:02 ( 854 reads )


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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, November 30, 2002: The future of the human race depends almost solely on women, and if she is not fully aware of her stupendous responsibility, humanity will suffer, said Mata Amritanandamayi on her return from the Global Peace Initiative of Women at the UN in Geneva where she received the coveted Gandhi-King Award for her massive humanitarian works. According to Mata, today's mothers are not playing their crucial role in molding the character of their children, especially daughters. The motherly instinct of the woman is the most fundamental and natural. All other roles are subservient to that. But today's mothers seem to fall in the trap of the glitz and glamour of the show world, she said.






NRI's Parents Experience Emotional Conflicts


Posted on 2002/12/1 8:48:02 ( 1066 reads )


Source: Sify News





PATNA, INDIA, November 3, 2002: Having a son or daughter with a nonresident Indian status is a source of pride and joy for most Indian parents, who usually have encouraged them to study or settle abroad. But having family abroad often causes mental and physical trauma for many mothers and fathers, whose children's handouts make them feel compelled to travel vast distances to see their grandchildren. Priti Singh, 58, of Bihar, flew to New York in response to a request from her daughter-in-law. She took the journey despite poor health and against the advice of her doctor. Singh, who left her husband at their home in Patna, said she simply could not refuse her daughter-in-law. "They have given me name, fame and money. In return, they want me and my husband to be at their beck and call every time," she said. Another problem faced by the parents of NRIs is social isolation. Financial aid from overseas does not go unnoticed in close-knit communities and parents of high-earning expatriates often find themselves discriminated against by jealous relatives. "We were a middle-class family and were on good terms with our relatives. However, ever since my daughter went to the USA and because of the money she sends us, we now have a higher class lifestyle. Now our relatives keep their distance," said Pushpa Saxena.






Arranged Marriages are Popular Among Hindu and Muslim Youth in America


Posted on 2002/12/1 8:47:02 ( 939 reads )


Source: Associated Press





MIAMI, U.S.A., November 16, 2002: Many Hindus and Muslims growing up in America are following in the footsteps of their parents by having their marriages arranged. For example, one young couple, Mala Shay Kher who grew up in Florida and Prashant Kaul who grew up in London, were engaged in August and plan to marry in January. Parents on both sides knew each other back in India and asked the couple to consider marriage in 1998. Kher, a University of Miami medical student says, " We never would have met if our families didn't arrange our marriage. There was no pressure like we had to do it. It's like a friend setting you up on a blind date, except it's your parents. In America and Europe, people have a negative connotation of arranged marriage." Christine Gudorf, a religious studies professor at Florida International University says, "In Muslim countries and India, education has changed the way marriage works. In the past, girls were married at 12 or 13 and not mature enough to make choices. Forced marriages at young ages still occur, but they're rare for the middle and upper-classes that immigrate to the United States." Both Muslim and Hindu families, who frown on dating, network among friends and relatives to find a potential suitable mate for their children. Minal Ahson, a 19-year-old Muslim girl, says, "Avoiding dating helped me concentrate on my schoolwork. One reason why parents are involved in marriage is because you tend to get stars in your eyes when you fall in love. You might overlook bad qualities of the person." Loretta Ross, executive director of National Center for Human Rights Education in Atlanta says, "Young immigrant women are vulnerable to being coerced into marriage. People you love can pressure you to do a lot of things, especially family members." Saba Khan, a 19-year-old Muslim girl who attends the University of Miami adds, "My parents plan to give me the final say on anyone they recommend to me," and blames the media for the misconceptions. "It's rare that people are forced into marriages. A happy family just isn't news."






Texas Community Organizes Presentations from Diverse Cultures


Posted on 2002/12/1 8:46:02 ( 853 reads )


Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times





CORPUS CHRISTI, U.S.A., November 21, 2002: The National Conference of Community and Justice in collaboration with the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce has organized a six-month long series of luncheons to educate community leaders on diverse religions and cultures. Appropriately named, "Breaking Bread to Break Barriers: An Understanding of World Cultures," the series for November was hosted Dr. Mulukutha Ramakrishna, a member of the local Hindu temple. Dr. Ramakrishna focused his presentation on the tradition of namaste, a Hindu greeting where the hands are placed together which acknowledges the divine in both greeters. Christine Kutnick, executive director of the NCCT says, "As Corpus Christi grows in population and diversity, the community needs to expand with it, becoming more familiar with the many different cultures present in South Texas."






Devotees Return as Jammu Temple Reopens After Purification


Posted on 2002/11/30 8:49:02 ( 877 reads )


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JAMMU, INDIA, November 27, 2002: The Raghunath Temple, which had been closed after the latest terrorist attack, as been reopened to devotees following a purification ceremony. The ceremony started at 10 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m. Renowned pandits of Jammu, Bihari Lal, Mool Raj Shastri, Surinder Shastri and Kewal Krishan Shastri, performed the ceremony. A portion of the temple that was damaged in the exchange of fire and grenade explosions has already been repaired and painted afresh. Once the ceremony was over, pandits and hundreds of locals washed the temple floor and walls with panchamritham, a mixture of fruits, ghee, fresh milk and honey. Pandit Ashok Sharma added that the purification was done as described in the Hindu Shastras. Soon after the temple was reopened for devotees, former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and his son, Omar Abdullah, met head priest Vishal Shastri. Asked if the murthis of Hanuman and Maharishi Valmiki, which were damaged, would be replaced, he said the decision would be taken in a meeting with Dr. Karan Singh, chairman of the trust that manages the temple. Upon reopening on this first day, 8,000 devotees visited the temple by 7 p.m.






Jammu Temple Priests Want Arms Training


Posted on 2002/11/30 8:48:02 ( 851 reads )


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JAMMU, INDIA, November 26, 2002: The Dharmarth trust, which controls most temples in Jammu and Kashmir including the Raghunath Temple, has decided to provide arms training to priests and supply them licensed weapons to protect themselves from militant attacks. "We conveyed our decision to Union Minister of State for Home, I. D. Swami, who visited the Raghunath Temple this morning," Thakur Diwakar Singh, president of the trust said. "The last time the temple was attacked, we spent over US$10,000 building grills and beefing up security. The only thing left to do is to arm the priests," he added. The final toll of Sunday's attack left 13 dead and 52 seriously injured, including five priests. All the 45 priests at the Raghunath Temple have reportedly expressed their willingness to get arms training. "In the current situation, it's not possible to function without guns," said Ashok Sharma, one of the oldest priests at the temple. Ajatshatru Singh, former minister and a patron of the trust, said a separate demand for protection of temples in the Valley has also been sent to New Delhi. The list includes the Sankaracharya Temple in Srinagar, Ram Temple, Khirbhawani, Sathu Temple and the Amarnath Shrine.




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