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Preparations for Janamashtami in Full Swing
Posted on 2001/8/8 23:48:02 ( 672 reads )


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JAIPUR, INDIA, August 7, 2001: Though there are five days for Janamashtami to arrive, in this city of Jaipur widespread preparations for the festival have started. The main festival is celebrated in Govind Dev Ji. Here the material of display is being prepared and programs of religious music/bhajans are being held. To celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna, people are busy in preparations in their own unique manner with special food dishes and decorations for the temples. (translated from Hindi)




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2001 Ramayana Conference and Fair in Illinois
Posted on 2001/8/8 23:47:02 ( 770 reads )


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DEKALB, ILLINOIS, USA, July 28, 2001: The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and the International Ramayana Institute of North America will present an Artistic, Cultural and Literary Conference on Ramayana Worldwide, September 21-22, 2001. The International Ramayana Fair, which will include Ramayana performances and workshops for the entire family, will be held on September 23, 2001. The countries currently represented include Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma) and India. International Ramayana Institute of North America brings together communities of different religion, different language, and different region by sharing Ramayana related culture through conferences and performances. For more information see "source" above.




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American Hindus Against Defamation Profiled
Posted on 2001/8/7 23:49:02 ( 795 reads )


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SAN DIEGO, USA, Aug 4, 2001: Ajay Shah's family had been associated with the RSS for many decades. Nearly 35 years later, Shah, a scientist with an American firm in San Diego, proudly declares his continuing association with the RSS, and is known for his passionate role in the formation of the watchdog group, American Hindus Against Defamation. Some of AHAD's campaigns have caught the attention of mainstream media, and articles about the organization have appeared in several American publications. Its campaign against fictionalizing Hindu Gods in an episode of the TV series Xena got a lot of coverage. And then there was the orgy sequence in Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut that used a Sanskrit shloka, and AHAD prevailed in the protest. "We were able to do all this without having an office, expensive attorneys or funding, says an exultant Shah. "What we do is purely a labor of love and for the cause of dharma." Some people have challenged him to think about the First Amendment. "I firmly believe in the First Amendment," he says. But he also believes in the right to oppose.




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Dancing to Aid Community
Posted on 2001/8/7 23:48:02 ( 664 reads )


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CALIFORNIA, USA, Aug. 4, 2001: Last weekend,14-year-old Sharanya Mukhopadhyay performed an Odissi dance at the Federation of Hindus Association's temple in Diamond Bar, California, to raise funds for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake. Last year, she helped raise funds for the Orissa cyclone and has performed three other times for different causes. "Basically, I want to help people through my dance." More than $3,000 was raised last Saturday and donations will also be matched by Intel Corporation. One of the crowning moments of Sharanya's budding dance career came last year when she won the prestigious Princess Grace Award, which recognizes and assists young talent in theater, dance and film. Sharanya went to New York to receive a $5,000 prize. Her latest charity performance had an added significance for Sharanya since she danced under the tutelage of her guru Nandita Behera.




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Parapsychology Foundation Honored
Posted on 2001/8/7 23:47:02 ( 676 reads )


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NEW YORK, USA, Aug 4, 2001: Nearly 200 members of the Parapsychological Association, a group of active researchers, honored the foundation's 50th anniversary this week at an annual convention. Parapsychology is the study of unexplained or paranormal phenomenon. It mostly focuses on dream research, but also includes the study of hauntings, clairvoyance and the occult. Founded in 1951 by Eileen Garrett and Frances Payne Bolton, a wealthy congresswoman from Ohio, the Parapsychology Foundation was created to help further the study of a field, which, at the time, had not been heavily researched. The field of parapsychology has changed throughout the years and has evolved in a highly refined scientific pursuit.




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"Phone Home" Gets Easier in Rural India
Posted on 2001/8/7 23:46:02 ( 694 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, Aug. 3, 2001: In the seas southwest of here off the coast of southern India, fishermen are already in touch with the dozen-odd seafood markets around here, checking prices at different ports by mobile phone. One fisherman, Ratish Karthikeyan, says that since he acquired his BPL mobile service over a year ago, his profit on each eight-day fishing run in his trawler has doubled. The 5,000 fishermen off the coast of Kerala to garment exporters in Tiruppur to farmers in Punjab in the north, rural India has discovered the convenience of doing business on mobile phones. It is an example of "leap frog" technology whereby the villages can go directly to the latest in mobile phone service, and not slowly evolve to it as the cities have done.




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Taleban Puts a Stop to Christian Relief Program
Posted on 2001/8/7 23:45:02 ( 680 reads )


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AFGHANISTAN, August 5, 2001: Cracking down on any agency or person that might disagree with their Islamic beliefs, Taleban hard-liners have now closed down a Western aid agency called Shelter Now International. After accusing the agency of promoting Christianity to its emergency relief victims, twenty-four members of staff were arrested. Eight have allegedly admitted to the crime. Afghanistan introduced the death penalty in the year 2000 for any Muslim converting to another religion or to any person responsible for causing a Muslim to convert.




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Mumbai Prayer On-Line
Posted on 2001/8/6 23:49:02 ( 684 reads )


Source: Cybernoon





MUMBAI, INDIA, August 6, 2001: For the overseas devotees of the elephant-headed Lord of the Siddhi Vinayak Temple here, the decision to make the auspicious arati and puja ceremonies in the temple going on-line, is a reason to rejoice. The temple trustees have joined hands with www.forindia.com to uplink the live Angaraki Puja to be held tomorrow (Tuesday, August 7), on their official website. The chosen day to go on-line is doubly auspicious as the Sankashta Chaturthi, the fasting day for devout Ganesh bhaktas, coincides with Tuesday, the traditionally auspicious day for Lord Ganesh. Sanjay Bhagwat, trustee and executive officer, says, "We get a lot of donations in dollars from non-resident Indian devotees. So we thought if they can see us performing the Ganesh arati live, that we can serve them better." Ashok Nadkarni, the web developer for the site concurs that the site is most suited for the ones living in far-off lands. "We have e-mails thanking us because students can now see the Lord before going for their exams," says Nadkarni.




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Canadian Christians Flee to U.S. Because of Child Beating Dispute
Posted on 2001/8/6 23:48:02 ( 684 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





AYLMER, ONTARIO, August 4, 2001: A Christian fundamentalist group in Canada has moved their children to Indiana and Ohio in the USA to take advantage of looser laws on corporal punishment. The Canadian authorities forbade them from beating their children with sticks, something the group says is allowed by their Bible. The group may even claim religious persecution by the Canadians (possibly a first for that country), according to the Washington Post, and seek asylum in the US. The 28 mothers and their 80 children, all under 16, emigrated to the US about three weeks ago. They are members of the nondenominational Church of God. Seven children had been removed from one of their homes in Canada until the parents promised not to beat them with sticks any more. The Canadians will remain in the United States "until we get the OK that we're not going to be checked up on," group member Christine Rabel said. Rabel, a mother of four, said she "occasionally" punishes some of her children with a switch. "I was raised that way and that's the way that I want to raise my children," she said.




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US$34,000 for New Sanskrit Department
Posted on 2001/8/6 23:47:02 ( 650 reads )


Source: Tribune News Service





SHIMLA, INDIA, August 3, 2001: The University Grants Commission has sanctioned US$34,000 to Himachal Pradesh University for setting up a department of astrology and a Sanskrit speaking center. This was stated by Dr S.K. Gupta, vice-Chancellor, while inaugurating a two-day National Symposium on Sanskrit today. He said our literary heritage Sanskrit was not only but also a tool to unearth the treasures of scientific achievements and researches that were carried out by the Indians in the ancient part. It was emerging as an instrument to meet the needs of many other disciplines which could be enriched with the knowledge of Sanskrit.




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Yoga Flourishes in the San Gabriel Valley
Posted on 2001/8/6 23:46:02 ( 733 reads )


Source: The Los Angeles Times





PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, July 27, 2001: The engraved concrete steps leading up to Yoga Kingdom Sanctuary explain what yoga is all about before you even enter. "Increase strength," "Reduce stress," "Improve flexibility," Increase energy," and "Improve concentration," all lead to the top step of "Inner peace." The ancient Hindu discipline of Yoga, which means "union" in Sanskrit, involves meditation, controlled breathing and prescribed physical postures. Nadeer Shagagi, the director of Yoga Kingdom and a yoga practitioner for 18 years, said asanas, or postures, are designed to reinvigorate the body. There are local yoga classes for those with multiple sclerosis, senior citizens, pregnant and postnatal women, toddlers, kids and teens. Virginia Lumb, 54, has been teaching yoga in the San Gabriel valley for five years. She holds classes at 12 places, including Foothill Gym and the YMCA in Monrovia, and Pasadena Jewish Temple. She's noticed a definite increase in the popularity of yoga. Lumb has taught graduate students and professors at Caltech, cancer survivors at the Wellness Center in Pasadena and even car dealership employees.




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Innovative Production Plants
Posted on 2001/8/6 23:45:02 ( 671 reads )


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USA, August, 2001: A clever system of miniature processing plants set up in 40-foot containers may be a boon for developing countries. The mini-plant system is designed in such a way that all the production machinery is fixed on the platform of the container, with all wiring, piping, and installation parts, all ready for production. There are more than 700 portable production systems, according to this brief report from Financial News, including bakeries, metal products, tires and plastics.




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No Danger of Cancer From Joss Sticks in Singapore
Posted on 2001/8/5 23:49:02 ( 805 reads )


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SINGAPORE, August 4, 2001: In response to the Taiwanese study which found levels of cancer-causing chemicals in temple smoke that were 19 times higher than in normal outdoor air, the Environment Ministry (ENV) has said that Singaporeans can carry on burning incense as it will not harm their health. ENV's spokesman said the ministry has monitored the levels of PAHs in air since 1996 and they were lower than in cities in the United States and Europe. PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are chemicals that are given off when certain substances, including tobacco, are burned. ENV also said that if enclosed areas are ventilated sufficiently the smoke would be dispersed and the carcinogens would not build up to harmful levels. The ministry has previously carried out tests on the burning of joss sticks and in some instances, minute traces of some heavy metals were detected. However, the ENV spokesman said that levels emitted do not constitute a health risk. Three years ago, ENV also set stricter rules on burning incense, limiting the length and width of large joss sticks, including barring the burning of large joss sticks and candles within 30 meters of any building.




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Korean Women Pray for Their Aborted Foetuses
Posted on 2001/8/5 23:48:02 ( 661 reads )


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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, August 5, 2001: Temples in South Korea have begun offering special ceremonies for women to pray for the foetuses they have aborted. The ritual, called naktae chondoje or offering ceremony for aborted foetuses, lasts for 49 days, the usual duration of a Buddhist funeral ceremony. Besides fruit and sweets, the women also make offerings of milk, instead of the traditional wine, to appease the restless spirits during the ceremony. Koodamsa, a Buddhist temple run by women, is one of several such temples in South Korea now offering these special ceremonies. The Venerable Ji Yul explained that by providing this service, she hopes to help women cleanse themselves of the guilt they feel at taking a life and eventually reduce the number of abortions. Nearly 40 per cent of married women have had at least one abortion, a recent survey showed. But of more concern to the authorities is the fact that the abortion rate for young, single women appears to be on the rise. According to estimates, more than one million abortions take place in South Korea every year, which is roughly twice the number of babies born. Forty-nine percent of South Koreans are Christian, 47% are Buddhists.




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Sri Lanka's Buddhist Clergy Want to Ban Conversion to Christianity
Posted on 2001/8/5 23:47:02 ( 685 reads )


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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, August 5, 2001: Sri Lanka's influential Buddhist clergy have called for laws to ban Christian conversions, which are spreading in poverty-stricken rural villages, and vowed collective action against the practice. They have adopted an 11-point plan to fight proselytizers, active in several districts of the island, and called on the authorities to immediately pass laws to prevent conversions taking place under the cover of helping rural communities to improve their economic standards. They say a shortage of Buddhist monks in several temples is also allowing Christian priests to make inroads into the Buddhist heartland by converting farming communities. The monks say about 23,000 Buddhists are being converted to Christianity each year and proselytizers have targeted 5,000 out of the 25,400 villages in the country for their activities.




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