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Indian Immigrants Slow to Integrate into Host Societies

Posted on 2003/6/6 9:49:02 ( 995 reads )


PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, June 4, 2003: Lamenting the fact that Indian diaspora was "slow to integrate into the mainstream of the host societies," a senior Indian official said that most Indians looked for a middle ground in most issues and avoided extremes. Speaking at a two-day seminar on "From Indentureship to Entrepreneurship," hosted by the Indian High Commission to mark the 158th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago, Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs J. C. Sharma said, "It has become second nature for Indians to look for the middle ground and avoid extremes." Indians followed a 3,000-year-old tradition of diversity, accommodation and acceptance. Admitting that Indians in Trinidad had suffered from discrimination, principal of the University of the West Indies Bhoe Tewarie said that the community had adapted and progressed in spite of such obstacles and "the future of the Indian community cannot be divorced from the wider community in which we live."

Indians came to Surinam in search of Shri Ram 130 years ago

Posted on 2003/6/6 9:48:02 ( 1475 reads )


PARAMARIBO, SURINAM, June 5, 2003: The first batch of indentured laborers from India was brought here 130 years ago aboard the ship Lala Rukh and had the mistaken belief they were going to the land of Shri Ram and not Surinam. Upon arrival some were dejected, but others, who brought with them their faith in Ramcharitra Manas and couplets of Kabir, rose to the occasion and converted Surinam into practically a Hindi heartland, preserving their language and cultural ethos. As new immigrants they were often condemned in the local society and referred to as Coolie, Kalkatia and even Kuta (dog). But over the decades they have been able to carve a niche for themselves. The Hindi used in Surinam today is closest to the Sadhukkari language of Kabir with an admixture of Awadhi, Bhojpuri, English, Dutch as well as local languages. Surinam Hindus today say their ancestors boarded the ship with Ramcharitra Manas and went through the trying times singing bhajanas of Tulsi and Kabir. This built a bridge that still survives.

Delhi's Alms Receivers are Well Organized

Posted on 2003/6/6 9:47:02 ( 1063 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 4, 2003: Job: Sitting for six hours a day, stretching a hand out occasionally. Qualifications: None. Vacancies: Unlimited. Earnings: Uncertain. That's the classic version of the temple beggar, widespread in India. The job, qualifications and vacancies for the metro version, widespread in Delhi, are roughly the same. The ways in which they are different from brothers in alms elsewhere are as follows: Their workplace is variable; there are weekly transfers. Earnings never fall below US$4.00, and can touch $16.00 a day. Sometimes, there is a significant perk: group housing at nominal rates. Begging is among Delhi's most organized businesses. The weekly transfers of beggars from temple to temple are an indicator of how completely focussed they are on deriving maximum profit from your benevolence. The Social Welfare Department discovered that sets of beggars at major temples kept changing every week. Which means that a particular beggar can be at four or five different posts across the city in the course of a month. The effort, apparently, is to allow a level playing field for all members of the community, and prevent the growth of monopolies. Though beggar groups struggle to gain supremacy over a profit-earning area, it has not triggered violent crime in the past few years. "It appears there is a silent agreement between the kingpins. All work in tandem, with clearly demarcated areas of operation," said an official. In what appears to be an organized racket, officials say, some areas have been turned into full-fledged beggar colonies. "The accommodation is provided by kingpins who claim a large portion of the beggars' earnings," the official said.

Florida Newspaper's Front Page Account of Aghora Hindus and India Shocks Asian Community

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:49:02 ( 1079 reads )


TAMPA, U.S.A., June 2, 2003: A rather astounding article appeared in the Florida Tampa Tribune of June 2 supposedly on the Aghoris, a radical group of sadhus living beyond the norms of society, but really about one crazy American, Gary Stevenson, claiming to their reporter (George Coryell) that he was an Aghori. The reporter considered the American insane, and indeed the fellow is now in a psychiatric institute in India. You'll have to go to "source" to read the article, as it is too disgusting to quote at any length. For example, "Cannibalism, Yon said, was taken as a part of Indian culture." Among its assertions is that tourists in India may be kidnapped, sacrificed and eaten by Aghoris.

The Hindu and Asian community in Tampa were shocked at the newspaper's gross misrepresentation and opprobrious information regarding Hinduism and India. Over 50 Hindu, Jain and professional organizations with members from Asia signed the following response: "We the Hindu and Indian-American community of Tampa Bay numbering well over 10,000 and represented by the undersigned organizations is deeply hurt and offended by the subject article and its portrayal of Hinduism and India. The article has done gross injustice to the Hindus, India and offended their sensibilities. Hinduism, the world's third largest but oldest practiced religion by well over 850 million, and with history well over 5,000 year old, is known for nonviolence, vegetarianism, love, compassion and peace. To portray and defame Hindu Gods and Goddesses and the entire religion with cannibalism because of stories collected by a writer in search of a book of sensational stories to write, with selfish motive for personal gain, displays personal biases and lack of quality journalism."

The response goes on to make these points about the article:

" [It is] Attempted defamation of Hinduism by portraying Hindus and their gods with acts of certain deviant individuals. The Aghoris do not constitute even a measurable fraction of the main stream Hindus 850 million worldwide. This is akin to equating Catholicism and Christianity with child molestation, suicidal acts, violence, and such, due to the acts of certain deviant individuals such as Charles Mansion, Jim Jones, David Kuresh and a few Catholic priests.

"Attempt to malign India and her people as a place where foreigners disappear. Thus attempt to cause financial harm to India by reducing tourism to India. In our numerous travels to India we have not encountered posters showing pictures of lost foreigners, if any. There are no advisories by any governmental agency against travel to India due to any loss of foreigners.

"Did not consider the sensibilities of the Hindu and Indian-American population or show a modicum of respect that Tampa Tribune shows for other religions and communities."

Another Marriage Called off Because of Dowry Demands

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:48:02 ( 1071 reads )


UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA, June 2, 2003: Yet another marriage met a premature end on Monday when the bridegroom added a Maruti car to his list of dowry demands. However, the groom, his brother and father -- all three who have been named in the complaint made by the girl's family, have not yet been arrested. The incident occurred at New Ashoka Nagar in East district. Premlata was to be engaged to Yoginder, resident of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. However, Yoginder's father, Bharat Singh Baghel called up the bride's father, Sobran Singh Baghel and declared a new demand - a Maruti car. When Sobran Singh expressed his inability to meet the demand, the boy's family called off the wedding. Satish Baghel, the bride's brother said the groom had already been paid US$1,066 in cash. "There was no way we could afford to present a car," he said. Satish complained to the police about the incident. Charges under Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act were registered against the groom, his brother Joginder and their father. Yoginder runs a hardware shop in Aligarh and teams have been sent to Uttar Pradesh to nab the accused.

Tirumala Temple Bans Coconut Breaking in Front of the Temple

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:47:02 ( 1013 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 2, 2003: A coconut in the hands of a devotee is unlikely to cause any alarm. For security analysts, however, the humble offering could well be stuffed with explosives and used with maximum effect to launch an Akshardham-type attack. The very thought of such a scenario being enacted in Tirumala has made the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) contemplate shifting of Akhilandam, the place where coconuts are offered, away from the Sri Venkateswara Swami temple. Normally devotees break the coconuts near the "mahadwaram" (main entrance). Now they have to go at least 250 yards away from the main entrance to offer the coconuts. A seven-foot fencing separating the place from the main temple is also proposed. The compulsory dress code for men of dhoti (cloth waist wrap) and "angavastra" (a narrow shawl thrown around the shoulders) would make it impossible for anybody to conceal any weapon and gain entry into the temple.

Tirupati Dress Code: No Jeans or Shorts

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:46:02 ( 2226 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 4, 2003: A dress code has been established for the Lord Venkateswara (also known as Balaji) at Tirumala hills. The Tirupathi-Tirumala Devastanam (TTD), which runs the temple, has announced men will not be allowed to participate in any rituals unless they are wearing a dhoti and angavastram and women should be wearing sari or salwar kameez. The dress code, which came into effect from Tuesday, has reportedly been prompted by complaints. For now, the dress code does not apply to those visiting the temple just for darshan. "It is only for people offering specific sevas," said P. Balasubrahmanyam, a TTD official. But it may be extended to all visitors later.

Deadline Approaches for Vegetarian Article Submission

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:45:02 ( 1240 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, USA, June 6, 2003: Hinduism Today magazine is planning an article in its next issue on the subject, "Why I am a vegetarian." Hindu youth (age 24 and below) are invited to send a 300- to 500-word essay on the subject. Each writer of a published essay will receive US$25 for the piece. The essay should cover the reasons why you personally chose to remain a vegetarian if so raised (or become one if not), how you have dealt with peer pressure to change, the value of more people becoming vegetarians and/or any other aspect of vegetarianism which you would like to share. Those selected will be published in edited form in an article slated for the October/November/December issue. Deadline is June 15. Please include the essay, a three-line biodata on yourself and a high-resolution passport style photo (300 dpi, at least 2 by 3 inches) and e-mail to "source" above.

Security to be Increased During Amarnath Yatra

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:49:02 ( 1016 reads )


SRINAGAR, INDIA, June 3, 2003: Security has been increased for the upcoming yatra, beginning July 12, to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath where over 100,000 pilgrims are expected this year. Officials do not want a repeat of last year's shootout in which nine pilgrims were killed. Anantnag district authorities, who reviewed the arrangements for the yatra in a meeting chaired by District Development Commissioner Shailendra Kumar on Monday, decided to set up joint control rooms at various camp locations by police and civil administration to monitor the smooth conduct of the yatra. All basic amenities would be provided to the pilgrims at different locations along the route to Pahalgam, the base camp, and the cave shrine. Medicare, power and drinking water facilities would be improved and better telecommunication system installed for the yatris. Only pilgrims to the Ice Lingam would be allowed to the cave shrine this year for pilgrimage. Casual tourists would be kept out, police said.

Gujjar Council Ban Dowries

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:48:02 ( 1078 reads )


NOIDA, INDIA, June 2, 2003: They've seen Nisha Sharma, a girl in their neighborhood, send back her groom and his family from the wedding because they wanted dowry; they've seen a groom die accidentally in some celebratory shooting. Now Gujjars in the area have announced a ban on dowry and ostentatious weddings. On Sunday, leaders from over a hundred Gujjar villages (about 20,000 families) gathered in a Maha Panchayat (community council) and announced they would boycott anyone who violated their directives and offered or accepted a dowry. They also said no firearms, liquor, bands or DJs would now be allowed at Gujjar weddings. Gujjar leaders have set up a committee under former Rajya Sabha member and Kisan leader Ramchandra Vikal to educate people and eradicate dowry from their community. Other members of the committee include UP Minister for Prisons Ved Ram Bhatti and former MLAs Narendra Bhatti and Samir Bhatti. At the meeting, Gujjar Samaj leaders felt dowry had lately become an even greater menace for them. Gujjars had prospered on the compensation they got for their land in Noida and Greater Noida and weddings had become ostentatious occasions to exhibit their newly-acquired wealth. Community leaders said that instead of saving up for dowries, parents should educate their daughters and ensure they plan a career and are financially independent. They also suggested mass, dowryless weddings be organized. Though members of the community welcomed their leaders' directives, several were doubtful about their implementation. It was up to the affluent members to stop the dowry trend, they felt.

Study Finds Sixty-Seven Percent of U.S. Immigrants are Christian, Eight Percent Muslim, Three Percent Hindu

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:47:02 ( 883 reads )

Religion News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 2, 2003: Nearly two-thirds of new immigrants to the United States are Christian, fueled mostly by Catholics coming from Latin America, according to research sponsored by several government agencies. Forty-two percent of immigrants are Catholic, 19 percent are Protestant and 4 percent are Eastern Orthodox, according to a study of almost 1,000 adult immigrants in 1996. Eight percent are Muslim, 4 percent are Buddhist, 3 percent are Jewish, 3 percent are Hindu, and 1 percent claim other religions. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Science Foundation and was conducted by Guillermina Jasso of New York University, Douglas Massey and Mark Rosenzweig of the University of Pennsylvania and James Smith of the Rand Corporation.

Change of Dates for International Hindu Human Rights Seminar

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:46:02 ( 1132 reads )


ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, June 4, 2003: On May 26, HPI carried an announcement on the Working Group Agni's plans for an international human rights conference to be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to discuss the human rights of Hindu refugees and victims of ethnic and religious violence. At the request of many attending the conference, the dates have been changed to July 4 to July 6. Readers may contact Mr. Sradhanand Sital, Chairman, regarding the conference and read further on Working Group Agni at "source" above.

Fiji Experiencing Increase in Vandalism at Temples, Churches and Mosques

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:49:02 ( 1089 reads )


SUVA, FIJI ISLANDS, June 3, 2003: Police have recorded some 73 cases of acts of vandalism in the country since May, 2000, and religious groups are concerned with these growing incidents and want the government to toughen penalties for such crimes. The plea comes in the wake of a break-in at the Olosara Hindu Temple in Sigatoka last week. A mosque in Sigatoka was also broken into, two days before Prophet Mohammed's Birthday last month. Of the 73 cases recorded, 44 Hindu temples, 19 churches and 10 mosques were broken into by vandals and holy books and other items of worship destroyed in the process. The religious groups yesterday described the act as "anti-Godliness" saying any God-loving person would not break into a place of worship. Fiji Council of Churches general secretary Benjamin Bhagwan said of the 73 cases recorded, most of them seem to be cases of "hooliganism and vandalism" except for some which may have been racial or against a particular religion. Shree Sanatan Dharam Prathinidhi Sabha acting president Surend Kumar said vandals breaking into such sacred places must be brought to justice and punished severely. Mr. Kumar said the Sabha is saddened by the recent incident in Sigatoka and hope the perpetrators will be found and appropriately punished. Fiji Muslim League president Hafiz Khan said the cases reflect acts of vandalism and are unacceptable in any society. "I do not think we have reached a state of having hate crimes. I see these incidents as normal crimes where people are desperate to make some money," Mr. Khan said. The Arya Prathinidhi Sabha of Fiji national president Kamlesh Arya said the social fabric of the society was breaking apart leading to "moral decay."

India's Parliament May Soon Have Smoke Free Zones, Movies Next?

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:48:02 ( 1016 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 2, 2003: Nicotine-addicted MPs may soon be confined to a smokers' den in Parliament as part of a national drive against public smoking. A report quoted Health Minister Sushma Swaraj as saying that her ministry was planning to declare the upper and lower houses, main lobby and the Central Hall used for joint sessions as smoke free. "We have proposed to construct small chambers for smokers so that they can remain in their chambers and continue harming themselves and not others," Swaraj was quoted as saying. India accounts for a third of the world's smoking-related deaths. A World Health Organization report released three months ago accused Indian film stars of enticing teenagers to light up and urged the industry either to kick the habit or issue warnings. In February, the Cabinet approved legislation banning tobacco advertisements and seeking to regulate production and sale of tobacco products. The Anti-Tobacco Act was endorsed by Parliament and on May 30, President Abdul Kalam signed it into law. One of the main objectives of the law is to protect adolescents and passive smokers from the hazards of smoking. Other reports quoted Swaraj as saying the act would soon be implemented in Parliament. "If we have the consent to do this, we will not let anyone smoke in the corridors of Parliament," Swaraj said. HPI adds: The government might want to investigate whether the Indian film stars are being paid for smoking in movies. Americans were astounded to learn in the midst of the huge tobacco lawsuits in this country that Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky") had been paid US$500,000 to use Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation products in his next five films from 1983. You can read the original court document by clicking here and scrolling down. And you can learn more about the ways American movies are used to promote smoking by clicking here.

Temple Chariot Displays Exquisite Art But in Desperate Need of Repair

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:47:02 ( 951 reads )


THIRUKKOVILAR, INDIA, May 30, 2003: Many temples around Thirukkovilar are in a state of disrepair, often lacking in simple supplies such as oil for lamps. At a temple dedicated to Lord Siva, a temple chariot catches the eye for it is decorated with marvelous art depicting Hindu legends and stories. The chariot was last used 15 years ago in a procession and while one finds classic art carved and painted on the chariot, a few of the carvings have already been stolen. The front, known as Kodungais and Chendu, are marvelous pieces of art. On one side of the car the story of Markandeya is told in four frames. In another frame Lord Nataraja is depicted performing the cosmic dance while Nandi plays on the maddalam. Other frames depict stories from the Ramayama, and epics about Lord Krishna. Because there is no protection from vandals, this special car with artistic marvels is being defaced, as well as decaying.

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