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Hindu Press International
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Devadasi Tradition Subject of New Film
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:49:02 ( 836 reads )


Source: India West





LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: The dedication of girls to temples in India is the topic of "Maya," a new film from director Dijvijay Singh. The film's release was hailed for its unsparing depiction of India's little-understood devadasi tradition. The film centers around twelve-year-old Maya (Nitya Shetty) who lives with her middle class family. The day that Maya reaches puberty, her childhood comes to an abrupt end as relatives start planning for the biggest event of the young girl's life: a feast and ceremony to dedicate her to the Goddess Yellamma. The films producer, Dileep Singh Rathode, stated that the subject matter is never made titillating, nor is it glossed over. "Reports from nongovernmental organizations state that until recently, as many as 15,000 girls were believed to be dedicated as devadasis in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka." Although this practice has been banned by the Indian government, the devadasi tradition persists, primarily among the dalit or "outcaste" community.




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Krittika Bonfires Light South India
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:48:02 ( 711 reads )


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TIRUVANNAMALAI, INDIA, November 30, 2001: Hundreds of thousands of devotees witnessed the grand spectacle of the lighting of the Annamalai Maha Deepam (bonfire) on top of the 2,668-feet high Annamalai hills on the occasion of Krittika Deepam which marked the culmination of the 10-day Krittika Deepam festival here on Friday. Bonfires are lit near temples throughout South India on this day, also known as Sivalaya Deepam, with the Annamali fire the grandest of them all.




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Conversion in New Delhi
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:47:02 ( 739 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 15, 2001: Speaking out against religious conversion Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a Hindu spiritual leader, says at a meeting here, "If a person is converted by proselytization, he's uprooted from his tradition. There's a need to see we all live in harmony and mutual respect." Despite these sentiments, conversion is a reality throughout India which has left the aftermath of hard feelings between Hindu Groups and Christian missionaries. Hindus feel that the Christian groups have forced conversion on poor Hindus who are offered education and health care after they have converted to Christianity. Denying the accusations, Christians say they only want to help the needy. In the early part of November, thousands of Hindu Dalits ("untouchables") converted to Buddhism. Even though the caste system has been banished in India, 160 million Dalits have been denied basic social rights. They felt the conversion would give them social status. India's President, R. Venkataraman, spoke candidly, "Conversion leads to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to retaliation by reconversion. You should not try to convert by force, fraud, or inducements."




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Harrison's Ashes Bound for India
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:46:02 ( 703 reads )


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VARANASI, INDIA, December 3, 2001: George Harrison's intimate relationship with Indian mysticism, music and Hinduism sent his wife and son on a pilgrimage to the holy Ganges river in India, where his ashes will be scattered. No report has appeared as to where or when Harrison's widow, Olivia and his 23-year-old son, Dhani, were to arrive, but it is believed they will scatter Harrison's ashes both at Varanasi and Allahabad, site of the recent Kumbha Mela. Harrison had his first contact with Hinduism in the sixties at the Himalayan retreat of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu spiritual guru. This discovery of Eastern mysticism eventually led him to his involvement with the Hare Krishna movement.




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Delhi's Teens Get Religion
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:49:02 ( 718 reads )


Source: Times of India





NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 27, 2001: Teenagers in Delhi are conformists to the core -- they are more religious than their peers in other metros and want mama to choose their life partners. A recent survey conducted by Hyderabad-based market research firm NFO-MBL over five metros found 53 per cent of Delhi's youngsters saying religion was an important part of their lives. The survey covered those in the 15-19 age group and represented the top 60 per cent of the socio-economic strata. Priests at the Sai Baba Temple in Lodhi Road, Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place and the Chattarpur Temple near Mehrauli corroborate these statistics. Pandit Sudhir Sharma, the chief priest of Hanuman temple found an increase of 35-40 per cent attendance by youth over the last two years. Mumbai, at 21 per cent, records the lowest religious-orientation among youngsters. Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore are a respectable 30 per cent. Sociologist Renuka Singh says there is a positive correlation between religion and family ties. "Religious orientation is something a child picks up from home.




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Thailand's White Elephants
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:48:02 ( 787 reads )


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BANGKOK, THAILAND, Dec 2, 2001: Khun Phra, Thailand's esteemed royal white elephant, is in the pink of health and that spells good news for a nation worried about its shaky economy. Thailand considers white elephants to be highly auspicious and deserving of the greatest care. The country has 11 white elephants chosen on the basis of distinct markings by a team of experts skilled in the mysterious and Byzantine art of white-elephant classification. Just how one spots a white elephant is laid down in the Khochalak, an ancient text that originated in India but was translated into Thai centuries ago. Khun Phra is deemed to be the "whitest" of the white elephants, which are apparently more shades of pink than white. He has four mahouts and is under 24-hour watch. Khun Phra's veterinarian, ML Phiphatanachatr Diskul, said classifying white elephants was left to three experts, of whom he is one, and several families with generations of experience. The discovery of white elephants is considered a symbolic indication of the greatness and majesty of the king. Head shape, personality, the way the elephant sleeps, snores and walks and the way the eyes glance must all be quietly observed from a distance.




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Trustees Object to Billboards Inside Temple
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:47:02 ( 706 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, November 28, 2001: Up until recently, the outer walls of temple compounds have had advertising on them as well as film posters and political agendas. Desperate to maintain temples in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the government, with prompting from the Endowment Department, allowed billboards to be erected within the temple premises. Temple trustees at the Katta Maisamma temple at Begumpet have objected to the billboards, which is some cases tower above the temple own entry towers. The trustees feel that the ads are offensive and distracting to worshipping devotees and interfere with temple sanctity. Generating revenues of US$4,255 to $10,638 a year, billboard advertising is planned at eight more important temples.




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Thirumuruga Kirupanandha Vaariyar Swamigal Site Announced
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:46:02 ( 725 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, December 3, 2001: A new web site on very popular Tamil orator and singer, Thirumuruga Kirupanandha Vaariyar Swamigal, has been created by S.Thiru Chudar Nambiand is now available at "source" above.




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Sudhir Parikh Donates $151K For World's Biggest Temple
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:45:02 ( 750 reads )


Source: Press Release





NEW YORK, USA, December 2, 2001: The Vraj Temple of the Pusti Margiya Vaishnava Samaj of North America received a major financial boost in its bid to build a large temple on a 50,000 square-foot area. New Jersey-based well-known Indian American community leader and philanthropist, Dr. Sudhir M. Parikh, made a record donation of US$151,000 on the occasion of Diwali and Annakut festivities on November 18. The temple will be a replica of the famed, original Shrinathjee temple in Nathdwara, near Udaipur, Rajasthan. Drs. Sudhir and Sudha Parikh's donation makes them the highest benefactors to Vraj Temple in its 14-year history. For more details contact: Pramod Amin, 2103 Mason Hill Drive, Alexandria Virginia 22306-2415. Phone: (703) 765-1554 and (703) 338-2646.




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More Hindus Massacred in Kashmir
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:49:02 ( 691 reads )


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KASHMIR, INDIA, December 2, 2001: Seven Hindus en route to a wedding in Udhampur district were massacred by Islamic guerrillas in the southern mountains of Kashmir, adding to the 19 deaths in overnight violence. In New Delhi, a defense ministry source said that a "pro-active" plan was being put in place to quell Islamic raiders in Udhampur, home to thousands of Hindus. Elsewhere in Muslim-majority Kashmir, 16 separatists, two female civilians and an Indian army major were killed. Twenty-one houses and a school were destroyed in unabated gunbattles between Indian soldiers and the guerrillas. The Indian government warned that Taliban militia on the run in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar district could cross into Kashmir via Pakistan and push up bloodletting in the territory.




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George Harrison Dead at 58
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:48:02 ( 704 reads )


Source: CNN





LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: After a prolonged battle with cancer, former Beatle lead guitarist and songwriter George Harrison is dead at 58. About Indian music and philosophy, Harrison had said: "After 'Norwegian Wood,' I met Ravi Shankar at a friend's house in London for dinner. He offered to give me instructions in the basics of the sitar, like how to sit, how to hold it, and the basic exercises. It was the first time I had ever really learned music with a bit of discipline. Then I started to listen to Indian music for the next two years, and hardly touched the guitar, except for recordings. Having all these material things, I wanted something more. And it happened that at just the time I wanted it, it came to me in the form of Ravi Shankar, Indian music, and the whole Indian philosophy."




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Pandit Ravi Shankar Reminisces About George Harrison
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:47:02 ( 683 reads )


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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: Ex-Beatle George Harrison, stricken with cancer, passed away to the sonorous tone of Hare Krishna chants. He was a lifelong follower of Hindu philosophy and was associated with the Hare Krishna movement. By his bedside was sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, now 82, a father figure to Harrison. Ravi Shankar, who in many ways was introduced to the west by Harrison, had an aide call with a statement. "It was my sitar and Indian religion which connected me to George in the beginning. He was a friend, disciple, and son to me," he said. "George was a brave and beautiful soul, full of love, childish humour and deep spirituality," he continued, "He has left us with so many moments and memories in our lives that will remain with us forever." Ravi Shankar's daughter Anoushka spoke of a 1995 holiday in India when they spent Christmas and New Year's together in Rajasthan and New Delhi with Harrison. It was to be Harrison's last visit to his spiritual home. "He was so Indian," Anoushka recalled, "So comfortably Indian."




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Record Diwali Turnout in Durban
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:46:02 ( 720 reads )


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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, November 27, 2001: A record crowd of 120,000 turned up for the Diwali festivities on the Durban beachfront at the weekend. Festivities started on Saturday with a religious program, followed by a variety concert and Indian bazaar ending with a spectacular fireworks display. "I have not seen such a crowd before. It surpassed all events that have been held on the beachfront. My congratulations and compliments to the people of Durban. Chairman of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said about 30,000 people took part in a series of fun events on Sunday. A kite-flying competition was popular, with scores of enthusiasts taking part with an array of multi-colored and intricately shaped kites taking to the sky.




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Chennai Starts Arresting Smokers
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:45:02 ( 741 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, November 9, 2001: When statistics revealed that around 800,000 people die annually in India from smoking tobacco, the Supreme Court of India decided to take action. As of November 2, smoking in public places such as hospitals, courts, educational institutions, libraries, and on public transportation, has been banned. Citizens realized that the government was serious about the new law when Chennai police arrested over 1,000 smokers on November 9, 2001, and charged them fines ranging from US$1.00 to $10.00. HPI adds: Studies in Europe and North America have determined an effective method of reducing smoking is to substantially increase the taxes on cigarettes.




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Pujaris Protest Change in Retirement Age
Posted on 2001/11/27 22:49:02 ( 840 reads )


Source: The Hindu





HYDERABAD, INDIA, November 27, 2001: The Andhra Pradesh State Endowments Minister, Mr D. Sivarama Raju, has said that there is "no point in temple priests still continuing their agitation with the closure of temples on Karthika Purnima day" on November 30 after regular worship, when their demands have already been met by the Government. Referring to the retirement age, a major demand, Mr Raju said here on Tuesday that an order had just been issued clarifying the Government stand on this issue. The order fixed December 8, 2000, as the cutoff date for implementing the retirement age at 58 years. Those priests who were appointed before this date, would enjoy the retirement at 65 years and those appointed after this date, 58 years. The Minister hoped that more and more people from all classes and castes would come forward to take up priest jobs as the Government had announced attractive salaries. If there was good response, the Government would establish training schools next to more temples, including Tirumala, Dwaraka and Keesara temples.




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