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Texas Community Organizes Presentations from Diverse Cultures

Posted on 2002/12/1 8:46:02 ( 938 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 ( 968 reads )


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 ( 928 reads )


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.

Jammu Pujari's Unforgettable Experience

Posted on 2002/11/30 8:47:02 ( 877 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, November 25, 2002 : The attack on the historic Raghunath Temple, which claimed many lives and left dozens others wounded, was for Jai Gopal Shastri, a pujari of this temple, an unforgettable experience. Shastri, who is lying in the disaster ward of the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu, believes that it is his devotion that prompted God to save many lives during the attack on the temple. "It was a gruesome attack," he recalls. He says he was sitting in his room located in the heart of the temple with his colleague, Jagan Nath Shastri, along with about six pilgrims at 7 p.m. when they heard a big bang. "We had no apprehensions of what exactly was happening," he said. However, he recalls that the moment they heard another big bang they grew suspicious. "I told the pilgrims that the blast had occurred right in the premises of the temple and we were about to close it (door) when another grenade landed near the gate, thus wounding me," he said. I asked the pilgrims and my colleague (who is also one of the injured) not to open the gate at any cost and to remain silent. He said that immediately after the blast, silence gripped our room and it appeared that the terrorist was taking shelter right in front of our gate. "We heard the movement of his shoes and the noise of his rifle as he was loading it. He was also holding a bag, probably filled with more grenades," he added. The terrorist was knocking at our door repeatedly, asking us to open the door while firing indiscriminately. Jai Gopal says that it is written in the Gita that whenever the end of any creature comes, he loses his power of thinking. "This was what exactly happened to me, and it was God which saved us. The militant could have easily sneaked inside our room by blasting our gate and he could had saved himself. All of us were gripped by fear, yet we could not stop ourselves from remembering our God. It is this prayer that saved us," he believes.

Twelve Name Givings Conducted For New Hindus

Posted on 2002/11/30 8:46:02 ( 881 reads )


KOZHIKODE, INDIA, November 27, 2002: While attending the Ninth International Symposium on Vedic Astrology, namakarana samskaras, name-giving sacraments, were given to twelve foreign nationals on November 20 and 21. The new Hindus, ten Americans and two from the UK, were welcomed into the Hindu religion, which they believe preaches "total tolerance, peace and love." The samskaras, performed at the Arya Samaj Hall, conferred Hindu names on all 12. Many of the new Hindus said they had been following the Hindu beliefs and culture for many years but were very happy to have officially become Hindu in name as well as belief. Along with the namakarana samskara, Vignesh Vishnu Mahadeva and Gayathri Ananda Devi from the UK had their marriage solemnized following Hindu traditions.

Sabarimala Holds "Kodiyettu" to Begin Festival Season

Posted on 2002/11/30 8:45:02 ( 996 reads )


PATHANAMTHITTA, INDIA, November 29, 2002: The Kodiyettu ceremony, marking the beginning of the 10-day annual festival at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, will be held at the Ayyappa Sannidhanam during the auspicious muhurthom between 9:41 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. The Tantri (head priest), Kantaru Mohanaru, had performed Bimbasuddhi, the preparatory rituals, on Thursday. The hoisting of the sacred flag on the holy mast will be held after special pujas to the flag and the mast tomorrow morning. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation are operating large numbers of busses accommodating all the pilgrims.

Temple Attack Deals Another Blow to Kashmir Tourist Industry

Posted on 2002/11/29 8:49:02 ( 858 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, November 26, 2002: An already suffering tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir has been dealt a blow by Sunday's temple attack that left 13 people dead. In the winter capital, Jammu, frightened tourists scrambled for tickets at the city's railway station. Many of them had come to offer prayers at the Vaishno Devi shrine, and though some of them wanted to tour other parts of the state after visiting the shrine, they felt it was now too risky. Locals now fear Sunday's attacks are going to hit the state's tourism industry which was showing some signs of recovery after both India and Pakistan decided to take steps to reduce tensions along their joint border.

Police Guard Tamil Nadu Temples

Posted on 2002/11/29 8:48:02 ( 943 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, November 26, 2002: Armed police have been deployed at all major temples in Tamil Nadu in the wake of last Sunday's terrorist attack in the Raghunath Temple in Jammu. Armed guards frisked devotees entering the Lord Kapaleewswar temple and the Lord Parthasarathy temple, among others, in Chennai. Security was also tightened at temples and major railway stations in the pilgrim centers of Madurai (Meenakshi Amman temple), Srirangam (Sri Ranganathaswamy temple), Tiruchirapalli (Rockfort Ganesha temple), Samayapuram (Goddess Mariamman temple), Palani (Lord Murugan temple) and Rameswaram (of Lord Siva).

Jammu's Raghunath Temple Reopens Under Heavy Guard

Posted on 2002/11/29 8:47:02 ( 979 reads )

Source: NDTV.com

JAMMU, INDIA, November 26, 2002: Having survived two attacks this year, the 200-year-old Raghunath Temple stands out as an example of resilience in the heart of Jammu. Though the temple itself will be reopened to the public tomorrow, the situation in the city is still unstable. A curfew imposed in Jammu in the aftermath of the attack has been lifted, however, schools and colleges remain closed. Security in the areas of the temple damaged during Sunday night's attack is very tight to prevent more incidences. However, the temple priests say they cannot depend on this extra security alone, and that it is best the temple arrange its own. Head priest Vishal Shastri said, "We must have a temple defense committee on the lines of village defense committees so that we can also retaliate from inside." The more than 50 people who were injured in the attack are being treated at the city's medical college.

Spiritual And Moral Ethics Conference Held in Malaysia

Posted on 2002/11/29 8:46:02 ( 944 reads )

Source: New Straits Times Berhad

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, November 19, 2002: Some of the world's leading thinkers on globalization, philosophers and interfaith communicators came together at a conference in Genting Highlands, November 25 to 27. Participants in the three-day meeting, entitled "The Challenge of Globalization: Towards a Shared Universal Spiritual and Moral Ethic," included former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Indian Hindu intellectual and social reformer Swami Agnivesh, globalization critic Richard Falk of the United States and former United Nations General Assembly president Tan Sri Razali Ismail. Just World Trust (JUST) president Dr. Chandra Muzaffar told a press conference that the conference was necessary to raise awareness and examine how globalization was threatening values, ethics and spirituality. "Time honored values are being eroded. Individual values are being shaped entirely by market forces, which is not healthy at all." JUST hopes that the conference and post-conference programs will help produce an action plan for workable programs that intellectuals, religious leaders of different faiths and grassroots organizations will be able to implement.

Tighter Security for New Delhi's Temples

Posted on 2002/11/26 8:49:02 ( 838 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 24, 2002: Temples in the New Delhi area have been put on high alert after terrorists stormed into the Raghunath Temple in Jammu on Sunday evening. Security at all religious places and important government installations across the nation has been stepped up and is especially tight around 50 or so major temples in Delhi including Chattarpur Temple, Kalkaji Mandir, Lotus Temple and Birla Mandir.

Longevity Attributed to Rare Herbs

Posted on 2002/11/26 8:48:02 ( 955 reads )


ATTAPADI, INDIA, November 22, 2002: Mudda Moopan doesn't know how old he is -- not that he cares. What he does know is that he has married 23 times, fathered too many children to remember, has had the distinction of meeting both the first President of India and the latest, and that he still feels young. Mudda Moopan is the Adivasi King of the Karumbha tribe, Kerala, and an authority in tribal medicine. Locals say he is probably one of the oldest men in the world and estimate his age at over 120. Last year, a group of university students collected a sample of Moopan's hair to work out his age and found the tribal chief had long crossed the century mark. Moopan doesn't remember the names of all 23 wives; he can think of only 16. His current wife is in her early thirties and his youngest child is 11. So what is the secret behind Moopan's longevity and virility? He claims the secret lies in a paste made of ten rare medicinal herbs that he takes three times daily, but he won't reveal what the herbs are. However, that hasn't prevented scientists from seeking his help. "He can identify more than 1,000 rare medicinal plants. He is a living legend -- a treasure trove," says a senior agricultural scientist at the Thrissur Agricultural University.

Dowry System Prevails in India

Posted on 2002/11/26 8:47:02 ( 1125 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 20, 2002: The results of a survey on the prevalence of the dowry system, conducted by the All-India Democratic Women's Association, was presented on September 1 and 2 at a two-day national workshop. Previously the dowry system was only thought to be a problem in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, but the survey found it to be practiced in all states and among those with higher literary and prosperity levels. "The worst fears were confirmed in the responses to the 9,000 questionnaires -- that almost all crimes against women, including female foeticide and infanticide were linked to the practice of dowry. The sample population comprised upper, middle and lower castes, but mainly middle and lower-middle class families with monthly incomes of up to US$103." Karminder, an AIDWA activist from Haryana says, "Be it any income group or caste, every section is obliged to spend at least $2,075 on their daughter's wedding." Resolutions passed by the AIDWA workshop included calling upon all citizens to act for the abolition of dowry, launching a national campaign to abolish both the caste system and dowry, appealing to religious leaders of the Hindu community to denounce publicly the "son preference," and encouraging own-choice and nondowry marriages. Legislation prohibiting dowry was first passed in 1961 and amended in the early 1980's to include a fine and imprisonment for offenders. In 1986, the Act empowered states to appoint Dowry Prohibition Officers. However, the social mindset is such that the law has little effect and the reality for unmarried Indian women does not appear to have changed.

Hindu Vivek Kendra Blasts Editors' Guild Report on Gujarat

Posted on 2002/11/26 8:46:02 ( 1122 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, November 24, 2002: The Editors Guild sent a team on a fact-finding mission on the riots in Gujarat and the role of the media. The team consisted of B. G. Verghese (a columnist), Dileep Padgaonkar (Executive Managing Editor, The Times of India) and Aakar Patel (Editor, Mid-Day, Mumbai), all respected members of the English language media. The Hindu Vivek Kendra has written a sharp response ("source" above) to the Editors Guild report for the purpose of exposing the bias in the English language media in India. They contend the English media distorts and trivializes issues, which enables journalists to avoid dealing with the essence of those issues. It is also asserts the English media in India is a product of the Macaulay system of education, which sought to produce "a class of persons Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinion, words and intellect" and cites examples of bias reporting. The RSS and their earthquake relief work, the plight of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane in December, 1999, are some of their examples. The report states, "The Editors Guild Report is yet another example of not doing the necessary analysis of what is happening. Furthermore, it seems to make a special effort of demonizing the Hindu organizations and their supporters."

Nepal's Forests Threatened by Maoist Insurgency

Posted on 2002/11/26 8:45:02 ( 905 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, November 26, 2002: The violent Maoist insurgency in Nepal has killed thousands of people, devastated the economy and is now threatening the Himalayan Kingdom's precious forests, officials say. Guards cannot protect forests from illegal cutting of trees because they are worried about attacks by Maoist rebels, and the government is unable to dedicate enough funds for forest conservation. Some 92 area forest offices and 696 range posts are engaged in conservation programs across the 5.8 million acres of Nepalese land which is covered by forests, about 40 per cent of Nepal's total land area. According to officials, 20 area forest offices and 280 range posts have already been destroyed by the Maoists since they launched their armed insurgency, and in monetary terms, the Maoists have destroyed forestry infrastructure worth US$3.84 million.

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