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South African Maestro of Music Dead at 77
Posted on 2001/11/17 22:48:02 ( 729 reads )


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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, November 18, 2001: Percussion maestro and South Africa's doyen of Carnatic music Gopalan Govender passed away here on November 17. He was 77 years of age. During the 1900s in the apartheid years, he started a renaissance among generations of indentured laborers, instilling in them a sense of pride in their rich cultural heritage through music. He taught the percussion instruments tabla and mridangam -- and propagated the learning of devotional songs culled from the texts of ancient texts such as the Thevaram and Thirupuggazh. Whatever knowledge imparted, he did so free of charge. Govender took his initial training under his first guru Murugas Naidoo of the Transvaal and later, from M.V. Murthy and Ranganathan while studying in Chennai, India. He started the New India Orchestra in 1940 and was a popular musician with South Africa's most famous band, the Ranjeni Orchestra. His awards included the Indian Academy of South Africa's prestigious Nadaraja Award in 1985, Natal Tamil Vedic Society's Mahalakshmi Award and the time-honored gesture of respect, the Ponn Aadai or Golden Shawl. He was a trustee of the Natal Tamil Vedic Society as well as a lifelong Honorary Vice President of the southern hemisphere's largest temple, the Shri Vaidyanatha Easwarar Alayam. He is survived by his wife Sarasvathi.




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Pollution Soars on Divali Night
Posted on 2001/11/17 22:47:02 ( 705 reads )


Source: Hinduistan Times





NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 15, 2001: The highly publicized campaign to limit firecrackers proved unsuccessful in Delhi this year with Divali being more polluted and noisy than in the recent past. The Delhi government put the blame on an atmospheric condition called inversion. This condition sets in due to low night temperatures with little wind movement. It created stable atmospheric conditions, preventing the dispersal of pollutants into the air. Even Delhi Health Minister, Dr. AK Walia, admitted the air in Delhi on Wednesday night caused more damage to Delhi residents health than during previous years.




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Vandals Desecrate Statues in South African Hindu Temple
Posted on 2001/11/16 22:49:02 ( 859 reads )


Source: Rediff on the Net





DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, November 15, 2001: The desecration of statues of Hindu deities at one of South Africa's oldest temples on the eve of Divali has shocked devotees here. "The century old statues, originally imported from India, have always stood in shrines outside the Narainsamy Temple," said a spokesman for the temple, Tiny Moodley. This was to allow devotees access at any time. The vandalism appears to have been the work of pranksters, who smashed the statues and left the pieces lying there. "They probably did not even realize the sentimental and religious significance the statues had for devotees worshipping here for decades," Moodley said. The statues, which were a significant feature of the temple and attracted thousands of tourists each year, will now have to be replaced by others from India, and serious consideration is being given to erecting a fence around the temple premises to restrict access. Some months ago, brass statues of Hindu gods were stolen from the historic Mariamman Temple in Pretoria, probably to be sold as scrap metal by thieves.




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The Oregonian Newspaper on Divali
Posted on 2001/11/16 22:48:02 ( 658 reads )


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PORTLAND, OREGON, USA, November 16, 2001: Many members of Oregon's Indian community of doctors, business owners, high-tech employees and blue collar workers come together this week to mark Divali, the Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus. As Indians gather in lantern-decorated temples and homes all over Oregon to pray, share meals and enjoy fireworks, the increasing number of celebrations reflects the community's growth. Indians are by far the fastest-growing Asian-American subgroup in Oregon. Census data show the population mushrooming about fivefold in the past 20 years, from 1,900 in 1980 to 3,500 in 1990, to nearly 10,000 in 2000. In pulling those worlds together for the first American-born generation, occasions such as Divali are particularly important, community members say. When you first arrive in America, it's easy to forget your roots, said Sivagami Vanka of Beaverton, a nutritionist and Indian dance teacher who immigrated from Chennai 20 years ago. "Now, we are able to pull the best of both worlds."




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Deepavali Message from Malaysia's Prime Minister
Posted on 2001/11/16 22:47:02 ( 685 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, November 14, 2001: The Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has urged Malaysians to sustain efforts to consolidate the prevailing racial tolerance and help the nation preserve the prosperity it has been blessed with. He said it was the stability and harmony arising from the spirit of coexistence of all its citizens that steered Malaysia into being the most developed of developing countries. "Without these values we may not be able to advance and prosper at a level we are enjoying now," Dr. Mahathir said in a message to mark Divali which is being celebrated by all Malaysian Hindus today. Despite Muslims forming the majority of its people, the rights of other communities to profess in other faiths and practice own cultures are preserved and enshrined in the Constitution, he said.




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HPI Reader on "Theft of Sita" Play
Posted on 2001/11/16 22:46:02 ( 0 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today





OXFORD, ENGLAND, November 17, 2001: "In my opinion," writes A. Khaitan of Oxford University, "The 'Theft of Sita' play is nothing more than an attempt to disparage what the Hindu epic, Ramayana, is about. I saw the play tonight (in Oxford) and was utterly disgusted. Far from sticking to the true Ramayana, the play made references to Sita as a prostitute and had inappropriate sexual innuendo tied in throughout. I asked for my money back. The Ramayana should not be used as a literary device for anything, especially considering its sacred value to Hindus and the ease in which others can misinterpret the epic. If the same happened about a Islamic event, people in Oxford would have been up in arms!"




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Request for Video Tape and Clippings
Posted on 2001/11/16 22:45:02 ( 651 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, November 17, 2001: HPI readers are kindly requested to forward to us at "source" above any reports they find upon the Maha Samadhi of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. We are particularly trying to get a video tape of the CNN report aired a few days ago. This may be mailed to Hinduism Today, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, HI 96746.




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Russian Postal Service Suspicious of Holy Ash
Posted on 2001/11/15 22:49:02 ( 353 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today





RUSSIA, November 16, 2001: A letter arriving from the Hawaii ashram home of Hinduism Today containing sacred ash, vibhuti, from the temple ceremonies, to a devotee here attracted considerable interest from the local postal authorities. They summoned the recipient to the post office, where 15 officials waited, concerned that they had just discovered an anthrax-laden letter. The very nervous devotee explained that he was certain the material in the letter was ash. The authorities took the material for testing, and that was the end of the matter. Hindu ashrams and temples should be aware holy ash, a fine white powder, may attract the attention of nervous postal inspectors around the world.




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Temple Monkey Helps Police Recover Stolen Icon
Posted on 2001/11/15 22:48:02 ( 699 reads )


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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, November 14, 2001: The icon of Lord Madan Mohan, made of astadhatu, an alloy of eight metals including gold and silver, and weighing 18 kilograms, was found in a well inside the 12th century Jagannath Temple complex in Puri, about 56 km from here. Icons of Lord Madan Mohan and Lord Narayan, both avatars of Hindu god Lord Jagannath, were stolen Sunday. Some 30,000 devotees gathered at the temple to fast, ended it after the recovery of one of the icons. The police searched the temple complex; the monkey kept raising its hand and making sounds to attract attention of the officer supervising the work. The officer, Ajit Das, however, did not take the animal seriously, but as he walked towards the animal it again raised its hands and pointed its fingers towards a well. Taking the cue, police pumped out water from the well to find the icon at the bottom.




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Theft of Sita Play in UK
Posted on 2001/11/15 22:47:02 ( 702 reads )


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LONDON, U.K., November 10, 2001: A joint Australian-Indonesian venture The Ramayana written and directed by Nigel Jamieson and brought to the U.K. by the London International Festival of Theatre received rave reviews from theater critics. The story from the Hindu epic and dealing with the abduction of Sita by Ravana took on a different perspective as it was seen through the eyes of a pair of comic servants, using the technique of Indonesian shadow-puppetry. Reviewed as fascinating, the show's political and ecological dimension, Terry Gilliam-style images created a powerful impression of an urban hell. Jamieson's show, while critical of Suharto's Indonesia, where the Ramayana is the most popular story, also proves that artistic cross-fertilization is a present-day possibility, two cultures combine to produce both a celebration of theatrical craft and a scathing attack on unrestrained market forces and environmental destruction.




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Few Divali Fireworks this Year
Posted on 2001/11/15 22:46:02 ( 698 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 13, 2001: The festival of lights and fireworks, Divali, is just round the corner but wholesalers of firecrackers in the capital have done only a fraction of the business they normally do. Compared to a business of around US$13,000 that they averaged in the last ten to seven days before Divali last year, sellers in Sadar Bazaar, the capital's wholesale market, are already foreseeing a dip of more than 50 per cent in their earnings. "The business has never been so slow. We are hardly selling anything. It just doesn't seem like Divali," says Virendra Kumar, a wholesaler.




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Request for Clippings and Video of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's Passing
Posted on 2001/11/15 22:45:02 ( 704 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, November 16, 2001: The staff of Hinduism Today requests clippings or video tape of television coverage of the passing of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami kindly be sent on to us at: Hinduism Today, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, HI 96746. We are especially trying to get a video tape of the CNN coverage on November 14 or 15.




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Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, World Hindu Leader, Passes Away at 74
Posted on 2001/11/12 22:49:02 ( 673 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, USA, November 13, 2001: Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, one of Hinduism's foremost spiritual teachers, a prolific author and publisher of Hinduism Today magazine and Hindu Press International news service, passed away today at age 74 at his ashram home on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, USA. A spokesperson for the ashram said the Hindu master discovered on October 9 that he had advanced intestinal cancer. Three medical teams of radiologists and oncologists in Hawaii, Washington State and California all concurred that even the most aggressive treatment regimens would not prove effective, and estimated he had just a few months to live. Consequently, Subramuniyaswami declined any treatment beyond palliative measures, and made the decision to follow the Indian yogic practice, called Prayopavesa in Sanskrit scripture, to abstain from nourishment and take water only from that day on. He died on the 32nd day of his self-declared fast, passing on quietly at 11:54 pm on November 12, 2001, surrounded by his 23 monastics.Upon news of his impending passage, prayers and worship were offered in hundreds of temples around the world by tens of thousands of Hindus. The suddenness of the events especially stunned the 2.5 million Tamils of Sri Lanka, for whom Subramuniyaswami, the successor of Lanka's great guru Yogaswami, is their hereditary spiritual leader.At his passing, Subramuniyaswami consoled his sorrowful monks, telling them, "Don't be sad, soon I will be with you 24 hours a day, working with you all from the inner planes." Bereaved devotees arriving at the ashram heard the same message, and by the time of the passing, a great peace had descended upon the ashram and all connected with it. His designated successor, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, was duly installed as guru of the ashram, formally known as Kauai Aadheenam.When notified of his passing, Sita Ram Goel, one of India's most influential Hindu writers and thinkers, wrote, "Subramuniyaswami has done great work for Hinduism, and the recent reawakening of the Hindu mind carries his stamp." Ma Yoga Shakti, renowned teacher and Hinduism Today's Hindu of the Year for 2000, said, "For more than three decades, Subramuniyaswami, a highly enlightened soul of the West -- a Hanuman of today, a reincarnation of Siva Himself -- has watered the roots of Hinduism with great zeal, faith, enthusiasm and whole-heartedness." Few in the Hindu world would not recognize the tall, white-haired American who had gained prominence over the decades for his practical and clear-minded books replete with explanations of everything Hindu, from the most basic beliefs and daily practices to the loftiest refined philosophy and yoga techniques. He was equally famous as founder and publisher of Hinduism Today, an award-winning, international, full-color magazine, respected for its authoritative reporting on Hindu events, institutions, personalities, issues and controversies around the world. Among his innovative projects are the creation of Iraivan Temple on Kauai, the first all-stone, hand-carved granite temple ever built in the West, the founding of Hindu Heritage Endowment to perpetually fund worthy Hindu institutions and his participation in numerous international conferences on religion, peace and interfaith harmony. He inspired and guided the construction of dozens of temples among Hindu communities outside of India, especially in America, Canada, Europe, Mauritius, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.From his ashram in Hawaii, Subramuniyaswami continued to follow his own guru's instruction to bring Saivism to the Western world by teaching others to "know thy Self by thyself" and thus "see God Siva everywhere." Among his honors are being named one of 25 "presidents" of religion at the 1996 Parliament of the World Religions held in Chicago, and receiving the U Thant Peace Award while attending the Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations in August, 2000. This award was previously given to the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa. On August 25, 2000, he addressed 1,200 spiritual leaders during the UN events in New York."Just before his passing," said the monastery spokesperson, "He asked devotees worldwide to carry his work and institutions forward with unstinting vigor, to keep one another strong on the spiritual path, to work diligently on their personal spiritual disciplines and to live every moment in harmony and love for all peoples. His monks, gathered from six nations, forged in the fires of his wisdom and love, are well-prepared to keep his mission potent and effective. Equally, his family devotees are pure, one-minded and deeply committed. These two communities will continue the work together: building the Iraivan Temple, managing the Spiritual Park in Mauritius, shepherding souls on the Saivite path of enlightenment, continuing the many publications, teaching children their Saivite Hindu religion, preserving traditional culture and art, protecting Hindu priests and the indigenous faiths of the world, contributing to our local Kauai community, guiding the future of Hinduism around the globe and working to reduce violence, child-beating and spouse abuse."Click on "source" above for extensive further information and high-resolution photos suitable for publication:




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Icon Recovered from Well Inside Puri Temple
Posted on 2001/11/11 22:49:02 ( 685 reads )


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PURI, INDIA, November 12, 2001: The icon of Madan Mohan, found missing from Sri Jagannath Temple, was recovered from inside a well in the temple complex on Monday, official sources said. Another icon of Narayani, also missing since Sunday, is yet to be traced. The two feet high astadhatu (eight metals) idol of Madan Mohan, regarded as representative of Lord Jagannath was sighted in a well inside Nilachal Upabana in the 12th century temple complex. Fire brigade personnel pumped out the water and retrieved the icon, the disappearance of which had caused commotion in the temple town forcing Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to seek a government probe. There are over a dozen wells inside the shrine complex and efforts were on to pump out water from them to trace the icon of Narayani.




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Returning to Religion -- Fashion or Natural Transition?
Posted on 2001/11/11 22:48:02 ( 668 reads )


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NEW YORK, USA, November 10, 2001: Shoba Narayan, a working mother residing in New York, reflects on her return to religion. "Recently, I had an epiphany of the sort one normally experiences in middle age: I realized that, within my social circle, religion had become quite fashionable. Many of my friends are middle-aged Hindu Indians with successful careers and at least two children. Like me, they came to this country over a decade ago, usually carrying nothing more than a suitcase and a few hundred dollars. They wanted to offer their kids the best of the East and West: Eastern tranquility combined with Western go-getting. So we return to the temple. Last weekend, for instance, I stood before the icon of the God Ganesh at the Hindu temple in Queens, muttering incoherent Sanskrit chants as I clutched the hands of my four-year-old daughter, Ranjini. I felt like an impostor caught in the middle of a strange, surrealistic set. I was part of the scene, yet I wasn't. I had become a born-again Hindu, that's what. Now on Sundays, I drag my daughter to the temple. Instead of wearing figure-hugging designer clothes, I wear voluminous saris. I don't scoff at tradition; I attempt to follow it. I have turned into someone I had sworn I would never become: a Hindu mom."




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