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French Devotees Celebrate Lord Vinayaka's Birthday
Posted on 2001/9/7 23:49:02 ( 382 reads )


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PARIS, FRANCE, September 3, 2001: Celebrating Ganesha's birthday with pomp and gaiety, French Hindus honored the Lord of Categories in a procession for seven kilometers in about four hours. Ganesha murthis were mounted on a five-metre-tall chariot outside the Mannika Temple and pulled by devotees amidst devotional singing, dancing, and offering of sweets. Traditionally, the murthis would have been immersed in a river, but this parade returned to the temple where thousands of coconuts were offered to Ganesha before his Murthi was returned to the sanctum. For the occasion, Paris decorated its streets, loud speakers played hymns praising Lord Vinayaka, the press promoted the festival and thousands were able to express their bhakti.




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Persecution Forcing Hindus to Flee Pakistan
Posted on 2001/9/7 23:48:02 ( 685 reads )


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PAKISTAN, September 5, 2001: Religious persecution and violation of human rights are forcing Hindus in Pakistan to flee to India, a Pakistani migrants association said today. Each month groups of persecuted Hindus are coming to India in the hope of a better future, but they face a tough time due to the lack of a refugee policy in the country, the Visthapit Sangh said. There are 17,000 Hindu refugees who have yet to get Indian citizenship. Five thousand of them live in Jodhpur alone. Many of those who arrived in India as refugees in 1965 have also not received citizenship, convenor of the Sangh, Hindu Singh Sodha, told reporters. Others are scattered in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore and Pali districts. He said the Centre should amend the Citizenship Act and fix a time limit for granting citizenships. He also said the government should review the rehabilitation policy prepared in 1978 for those living in camps after leaving Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.




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Prayer in US Schools Doesn't Mean Christian Prayer
Posted on 2001/9/7 23:47:02 ( 663 reads )


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USA, September 8, 2001: A frequent proposal from the Christian Right in America is for a constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools. Proponents will cite results from the Gallup poll, such as at "source," which show 78% of Americans support such an amendment. What they don't usually cite is the response to this question Gallup also posed: "Suppose spoken prayers were allowed in the local public schools. Do you believe that the prayers should be basically Christian, reflecting Christian beliefs and values, or should the prayers reflect all major religions, including Christianity?" 76% say the prayers should "reflect all major religions" and only 18% say basically Christianity. So if the amendment ever does pass -- a very unlikely scenario -- Hindu and Buddhist prayers would be just as eligible for the classroom as anything from Christianity.




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Parents Face New Smacking Ban
Posted on 2001/9/7 23:46:02 ( 677 reads )


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SCOTLAND, U.K., September, 6, 2001: Parents in Scotland will not be able to smack children under the age of three under proposals announced by the Scottish Executive. The move, unveiled on Thursday by Justice Minister Jim Wallace, will also make it illegal to hit children on the head, shake them or strike them with an implement. The proposals will also see a ban on corporal punishment in childcare centres, by childminders and in non-publicly funded pre-school centres. Opposition parties gave a mixed response to the plan -- the Scottish National Party said it would support the move, while the Conservatives branded it "misconceived." "While we believe that parents should have the rights to set the grounds for the discipline of their children, we felt there was a strong need for greater clarification of the law as to what is defined a 'reasonable' punishment," said Wallace.




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Ayodhya Stone Inscription Details
Posted on 2001/9/7 23:45:02 ( 867 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, September 8, 2001: For those interested in the stone inscription found in Babri Masjid (HPI, September 5), go to "source" above for a detailed summary including the stone inscription.




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Vegetarian Resource Group Offers College Course on Vegetarianism
Posted on 2001/9/7 23:44:02 ( 642 reads )


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BOSTON, MASSACHUCETTS, September 8, 2001: Vegetarian Resource Group now offers a college-level online course on vegetarianism, taught by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD. Originally designed as an advanced nutrition class for culinary students, the course has been expanded to include topics of interest for everyone interested in food, health, small business, and vegetarianism. For more information online go to source above.




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Sabarimala: Concern Over Rise in Ecology Issues
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:49:02 ( 713 reads )


Source: The Hindu





PATHANAMTHITA, INDIA, September 2, 2001: The Pampa Parirakshana Samithi (PPS), a Kozhencherry-based environmental organization which has been crusading for the cause of the river Pampa, has said that it is high time the government took serious note of the alarmingly high environmental issues at Sabrimala, Kerala's most popular pilgrimage destination. The PPS general secretary, Mr. N.K. Sukumaran Nair, said that a study by two expert scientific teams had revealed that the chances of landslips and tremors at the holy hillock due to the extensive concrete flooring at Sabarimala Sannidhanam are very high. However, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the administrative body of the Lord Ayyappa temple, continues to initiate more construction activities at Pampa and Sabarimala. What is needed at Sabarimala are not multi-storied complexes but temporary shelters and fool-proof mechanism for sanitation and drinking water without disturbing the ecology and environment of the sacred grove opined many Ayyappa devotees. The eco group leader said that it is the obligation of the State government to preserve the wildlife and rivers from environmental degradation. The flow of filth into the river has raised the coliform count in the Pampa river waters drastically, Mr. Nair alleged. Mr. Nair stressed the need for pilgrim shelters at different base camps to minimize the human pressure on the holy hillock.




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Indian Martial Arts Goes to Bollywood
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:48:02 ( 845 reads )


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CALICUT, INDIA, September 7, 2001: Kalarippayat is said to be the world's original martial art. More than 2,000 years old, it was developed by warriors of the Cheras kingdom in Kerala. Training followed strict rituals and guidelines. From unarmed kicks and punches, kalarippayat warriors would graduate to sticks, swords, spears and daggers and study the marmas -- the 107 vital spots on the human body where a blow can kill. Training was conducted in secret, the lethal warriors unleashed as a surprise weapon against the enemies of Cheras. Still, Chinese traders learned some of the mysterious body movements and took them home to provide the basis of their own martial arts. Now, the box-office success of Chinese kung-fu movies has in turn revived kalarippayat. Indian filmmakers, hoping to mimic the high-kicking fights and gravity-defying leaps in Jet Li's Romeo Must Die and Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, are hiring kalarippayat fighters and teachers like Kumar as stuntmen. They're even making sure Bollywood stars have basic training. "Even five years ago, Kerala martial arts had nearly died out," says Kumar, who with his two brothers runs C.V.N. Kalari Sangham in Calicut, among the best known schools in the country. "Now suddenly it is popular again and it's all because of these films."




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Tirupati Set for Aerial Transport System
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:47:02 ( 674 reads )


Source: The Hindu





HYDERABAD, INDIA, September 4, 2001: A proposed aireal cable car system to transport pilgrims from Tirupati town to the Tirumala temple will be the world's longest such facility, stretching for a length of 6.1 km. Ropeways are synonymous with hilly countries like Switzerland and Austria, but their length is not more than 2 to 3 km. on an average. The ambitious project, to cost US$19.2 million, has seen the light of the day at last with the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) calling for international bids for execution. The cables are to be laid based on the poles to be installed in alignment across the forests and there will be 100 cable-cars, each with a capacity to carry a maximum of 10 pilgrims. Moving at a speed of six meters per second, the cable-cars will take 20 minutes to reach the destination. Initial estimate is that the ropeway will facilitate transport of at least 2,000 devotees to the top in an hour. The fare is yet to be decided.




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Puri Temple Priests Opposed Watchtower
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:46:02 ( 664 reads )


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PURI, INDIA, September 5, 2001: Puri's temple priests have opposed the Orissa Tourism Department's proposal to build a watch-tower outside the Jagannath temple to help non-Hindus get a glimpse of the 13th century structure. Ipsit Pratihari, president, Sri Jagannath Sevayat Kalyan Parishad, said: ''This move will endanger the security of the temple and so should not be allowed.'' A marble plaque outside the lion's gate says that only orthodox Hindus are allowed in. The tourism authorities had hit on the idea to build a 45-ft tower outside the temple's singhadwar (lion's gate) to attract tourists. The proposed tower would help tourists see the sprawling complex clearly, though the three deities in the sanctum sanctorum would be out of sight. Pratihari said: ''If any attempt is made to turn the temple into a tourist attraction just to earn foreign exchange, it would hurt Hindus' religious sentiments.'' Pratihari would have no non-Hindu tourists visit the shrine because it is not a tourist attraction. ''If anyone from another religion is interested to have a darshan of the deities, he or she could do it during the rathyatra when they are taken outside the shrine,'' he said.




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Three Drowned at Ganesha Chaturthi Immersions
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:45:02 ( 652 reads )


Source: The Hindu





CHENNAI, INDIA, August 31, 2001: A youth was drowned and two others were reported missing at sea while attempting to immerse a Ganesa icon, giving Friday's Vinayaka Chathurthi procession a tragic dimension. Eyewitnesses said a group of youth ventured into the sea about 4:30 p.m. to immerse a medium-sized idol at the Seerani Arangam, when a strong undertow dragged two fifteen-year-olds away. Prem Kumar (19) and another person went to their rescue, but were also caught in the current. While the second person was rescued, Prem was drowned and his body recovered a few km away. Several youths, who formed part of the processions from different parts, were seen hurling small icons from the shores, without any consideration for those standing in knee-deep water. This they went on doing despite police cautions asking them not to venture into the sea following the report of the drowning. Likewise, youth from the neighboring slums risked their lives and salvaged the wooden sticks on which the icons were rested. Otherwise, the procession, organized by the Hindu Makkal Katchi and allied groups was incident-free.




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Tribals to Intensify Agitation
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:44:02 ( 656 reads )


Source: The Hindu





THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, September 3, 2001: The Adivasi-Dalit Action Council has resolved to intensify its stir launched on the eve of Thiruvonam day to highlight its long-standing demands. Adivasis, the tribal people of India, planned to block the Onam pageantry to be held at the culmination of the week-long celebrations. Even as hundreds of Adivasis were facing death due to starvation, the Government was squandering hundreds of thousands of rupees on Onam celebrations, Council chairperson alleged. One of the major demands of the Council is the withdrawal of the Tribal Protection Bill adopted by the Kerala Assembly in 1999, which in effect was detrimental to the interests of the more than 350,000 tribal population in the State. Around 200,000 tribals continue to be landless and remained alienated in their own territory. The council was also concerned about the organized attempts by the "liquor mafia" to lure tribal youth into the liquor smuggling business. Those who resisted such offers and petty favors were allegedly being tortured and killed.




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Catholic Children in Catholic Schools Likely to Leave Faith
Posted on 2001/9/6 23:43:02 ( 693 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





LEEDS, ENGLAND, September 7, 2001: That the UK's Roman Catholic schools may play a roll in discouraging young Catholics from practicing their faith came under scrutiny at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Priests of England and Wales. Priests from northwest England said that in their experience teenagers who went to Catholic schools were the most likely to give up practicing their faith, while most of the teenagers who did come to church were those attending non-Catholic schools. "Young people at Catholic schools who go to Mass are subject to a kind of insidious bullying by their peers to give it up," said Canon Brendan Hoban from Wallasey, England. He asked whether the phenomenon was confined to his region or was more widespread, and what could be done about it. "I sometimes wonder if Catholic high schools are worth preserving," said the Rev. Peter Fox from Widnes, England. However, their proposal for an investigation into the "complex reasons why young Catholics cease to practice their faith during their school years" failed to gain enough support from the conference to be adopted as a formal resolution.




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Non-Hindus Allowed to Pray at Jagannath Temple
Posted on 2001/9/5 23:49:02 ( 719 reads )


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BHUBANESHWAR, INDIA, August 27, 2001: Entering a temple to partake of the darshan exuding from the deity in the inner sanctum, is what makes Hindu temple worship so uplifting and special. The famous Jagannath temple in the state of Orissa has denied this privilege to non-Hindus. Priests (pandas) have been adamant about upholding this rule. According to the article, "Mahatma Gandhi was prevented from entering the temple as he was accompanied by Harijans, while Acharya Vinobha Bhave faced the wrath of the pandas for being accompanied by Muslims." To honor the tradition, but still provide non-Hindus an opportunity to view the Lord, the Orissa tourism department has built an elevated platform on the northern side of the temple. From this vantage point, non-Hindus can pray and pay respects to the Lord.




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Puri Priests Object to Designer Saris
Posted on 2001/9/5 23:48:02 ( 659 reads )


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PURI, INDIA, September 4, 2001: The Jagannath Temple administration is peeved at the depiction of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Suvadra on a range of saris by a designer house of Kolkata. Himanshu Sekhar Samantaray, administrator of Sri Jagannath temple has asked the company for the immediate withdrawal of the saris from the market or else the temple administration would initiate legal proceedings. According to Samantaray the deities have been projected in a derogatory manner on the saris, which have shocked devotees.




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