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Hindu Press International
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Hundreds of Thousands Witness Puri Car festival
Posted on 2001/6/24 23:47:02 ( 666 reads )


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PURI, INDIA, June 23, 2001: Over 800,000 devotees witnessed the famous car festival of Lord Jagannath, His elder brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Goddess Subhadra in the pilgrim town of Puri on Saturday. The downpour and power failure on Friday night didn't deter devotees who thronged to celebrate the annual sojourn of the Lord. The "Mangala Arati" of the deities started at about 5:00 am and was followed by other rituals. The festival then witnessed one of its finest moments when the three deities were brought out of the temple to their respective chariots in a spectacular procession called "Pahandi." The Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peetha, Puri, Swami Neeschalananda Saraswati, was the first to have a "darshan," or sight, of the three deities on their chariots. There was a mad scramble to hold the ropes of the chariots, a lifetime wish of the devotees who had come from all corners of the country and abroad to witness the famous festival.




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Child Marriages In Andhra Pradesh
Posted on 2001/6/24 23:46:02 ( 725 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, JUNE 23, 2001: Child marriages are banned under Indian laws, but a nongovernmental organization (NGO) working in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh publicly organized 11 such weddings in one day. Uchita Viaha Vedika, a voluntary NGO which arranges free mass weddings of poor couples, organized those of 11 couples aged between 12 and 16 years old on May 20, in the presence of a local legislator and other eminent people. Child marriages are common in some back regions but this is perhaps the first time that a voluntary organization publicly arranged such weddings. In India, the legal age for marriage of boys is 21 and of girls 18.




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Going Vegetarian Pays Off
Posted on 2001/6/23 23:49:02 ( 642 reads )


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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, June 24, 2001: Vegetarians in Britain are being offered cheaper life insurance because, it is claimed, they are healthier and less likely to die earlier. They are being given a 25 percent reduction in their monthly premiums. The Animal Friends Insurance (AFI) society is the first to offer the cheaper rates to vegetarians and other companies are expected to follow. In the past, the only significant lifestyle factor that British insurers had taken into account for life policies was smoking. According to Ms. Elaine Fairfax, head of AFI, a succession of studies gives strong indications that vegetarians live longer and are less likely to suffer from serious or chronic illnesses that shorten lives. The company therefore wants to reward vegetarians by giving them cheaper life insurance policies. According to the Vegetarian Society, an exclusively vegetarian diet reduces the risk of some cancers by up to 40 per cent and of heart disease by 30 per cent. The chance of developing kidney and gallstones is also lower and the threat of diet-related diabetes and high blood pressure is minimized.




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The Plight of the Girl Child
Posted on 2001/6/23 23:48:02 ( 687 reads )


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NEW DELHI & TAMIL NADU, INDIA, June 23, 2001: They are calling it "the cause of the girl child." Organizations such as the National Commission for Women, UNICEF and the Indian Medical Association, collaborating in their campaign against the gender bias, have invited religious leaders to participate in a national convention on Sunday, June 24th. Alarmingly, the latest census figures have shown a steady decrease in the female population in all the states of India. Averaging 927 female children per thousand male children in the zero- to six-year-old age group, some states fair even worse. Quoting the article, "Chandigarh has 773 females to 1000 males, Haryana 861, Punjab 874 and Uttar Pradesh 898." Sanjiv Malik, secretary general of the IMA points out that the statistics clearly indicate that the girl child is being eliminated either before or after birth.




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Tracing the Synapses of Spirituality
Posted on 2001/6/23 23:47:02 ( 610 reads )


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PHILADELPHIA, USA, June 17, 2001: What creates that transcendental feeling of being one with the universe? Scientists are asking whether spirituality can be explained in terms of neural networks, neurotransmitters and brain chemistry. Using powerful brain imaging technology, researchers are exploring what mystics call nirvana, and what Christians describe as a state of grace. In an experiment to recreate a spiritual experience in the brain, a volunteer wears headgear that produces an electromagnetic pattern on a computer program. "The brain is set up in such a way as to have spiritual and religious experiences," said Andrew Newberg, a Philadelphia scientist who authored the book "Why God Won't Go Away." "Unless there is a fundamental change in the brain, religion and spirituality will be here for a very long time. The brain is predisposed to having those experiences and that is why so many people believe in God."




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Unauthorized Pavement Shrines Abound
Posted on 2001/6/23 23:46:02 ( 690 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, June 18, 2001: Victoria Layout in the heart of the city seems to be a haven for unauthorized shrines, in this case Christian altars -- mostly dedicated to St Mary. Many are small, but on Richmond Road Circle one is a full-fledged altar with its walls laced in marble, and a mini garden around it -- all crammed in the little space on the pavement. There are few answers for questions like when and by whom this unauthorized altar was constructed. Be it large or small, any shrine or altar without the proper authorization runs the risk of eventual demolition by the Bangalore Development Authority Task Force.




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Better Conditions Needed for Temple Elephants
Posted on 2001/6/23 23:45:02 ( 903 reads )


Source: The Hindu





CHENNAI, INDIA, JUNE 22, 2001: The poor condition of elephants kept in many temples in the state has brought into focus the need for the forest department to intervene, according to wildlife enthusiasts. Poor maintenance, cramped rooms, lack of veterinary care, wrong diet and exploitation by their masters are some of the problems the elephants face. According to Forest Department sources, nearly 45 to 50 temples have their own elephants. Most of the temples keep only one animal each. As the elephants are social animals, confining them alone is also considered mistreatment. Regular screening for diseases, supervising maintenance of elephants, health care for mahouts, insurance for the elephants and his master are some of the suggestions for better maintenance.




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Seasonal Devotee Influx Overloads Vaishno Devi Shrine
Posted on 2001/6/22 23:49:02 ( 689 reads )


Source: India Today





KATRA, INDIA, June 20, 2001: Thousands of people are waiting for their turn at Katra from where the pilgrims assemble to begin their journey to the Vaishno Devi Shrine. This year, summer vacations are producing 40,000-60,000 pilgrims per day. The Shrine Board has the infrastructure to handle issuing passes to only 22 thousand people at a time. The result is delay and hold up for a large number of people on their way to the holy place. Board officials maintain that if more than 22,000 are processed at a given time, there are chances of a stampede taking place. As a result of this limitation, many pilgrims are stuck for twenty-four hours waiting for their turn. They also complain that they are given just three seconds to stand before the Goddess, which is just insufficient.




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Many World Languages Face Extinction
Posted on 2001/6/22 23:48:02 ( 666 reads )


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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 18, 2001: Among the world's 6,800 languages, half to 90 percent could be extinct by the end of the century. Half of all languages are spoken by fewer than 2,500 people each, according to the Worldwatch Institute, a private organization that monitors global trends. Languages need at least 100,000 speakers to pass from generation to generation. War, genocide, fatal natural disasters, government bans and the adoption of more dominant languages also contribute to their demise. Several languages in India face extinction.




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Unique Educational Experience Available for Poor New Delhi Families
Posted on 2001/6/22 23:47:02 ( 626 reads )


Source: The Pioneer





NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 12, 2001: An unique gurukulam (priest school), Shri Hanuman Sanskrit Mahavidalaya, has been in operation in West Delhi since 1978. Attracting students from poor families who cannot afford food or education for their offspring, the institute is run by a branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. While teaching common subjects such as history and English as well as astrology and Sanskrit grammar, the school cannot afford to offer any sciences in its curriculum. Upon graduating with Class 12 from the school, students can continue their post secondary studies in a shastri course. With an excellent grasp of English and history, graduates can become lecturers, work in historical museums, become astrologers or work as priests in temples run by the government.




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Sri Lanka Fails to Recruit Quota of Buddhist Monks
Posted on 2001/6/22 23:46:02 ( 645 reads )


Source: Sri Lanka Newspaper





COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, June 5, 2001: In an attempt to meet the needs of 13.7 million Buddhists on the island, the government has advertised for monks. With only 39,000 monks, many of them aging, to serve the Buddhist congregation, an additional 1,000 candidates are needed in the Buddhist Clergy. However, only 671 aspirants responded, and the mass ordination has been postponed. These aspirants will however serve in temples until they are ordained at a later date. Traditionalists of the Buddhist clergy have objected to the way the Prime Minister has, "short-circuited the strict process of choosing aspirants."




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PM Urges Sri Lankans to Have More Children
Posted on 2001/6/22 23:45:02 ( 595 reads )


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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, June 19, 2001: Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, blaming the island's low population rate for a shortage of Buddhist monks and soldiers, has urged Sri Lankans to have more children. Offering special bonuses as incentives, he advised citizens to disregard slogans promoting small families. He blamed Sri Lanka's slow population growth, held up as a model among developing countries, for the failure of his recent drives to recruit 10,000 soldiers and 2,000 monks, the Sinhala-language "Divaina" reported.




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Gurkha Soldiers Honor Death of Royal Couple
Posted on 2001/6/22 23:44:02 ( 689 reads )


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FOLKESTONE, UNITED KINGDOM, June 16, 2001: Recruited from the hill tribes in eastern and western Nepal, Gurkha soldiers serving in the British Army paid their respects to the King and Queen of Nepal last Saturday. Offering fresh picked flowers to five-foot-high portraits of the Royal couple, the Gurkhas had been shocked by the deaths. A Hindu priest was on hand at the ceremony to offer condolences. However, these soldiers who are hand picked for the Army every year after rigorous tests, are resilient and according to a senior army officer, "After the shock, life will go on."




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UNICEF Photo Illustrates Plight of Girl Child in India
Posted on 2001/6/21 23:49:02 ( 683 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, June 13, 2001: A UNICEF picture of an Indian mother with her twin children -- a boy and a severely malnourished girl -- has become a symbol of the plight of the girl child in India. The picture has been used to epitomize the discriminatory feeding practices in India at a briefing, "Saving Women's Lives: The Impact of Violence on Safe Motherhood Worldwide", in New York. The briefing also covered issues of the Taliban's role in denying Afghan women adequate healthcare, health status of immigrant women in the US, and domestic violence and abuse of women by present or former partners all over the world. The UN Undersecretary General said, "Violence is something that all countries and classes have in common. One in three women worldwide has probably experienced violence in some form, by someone close to her. It is the result of sex-related abortions that we have 60 million fewer girls than expected."




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Buddhism Blooms Amid the Forests of the Catskills
Posted on 2001/6/21 23:48:02 ( 681 reads )


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LIVINGSTON MANOR, NEW YORK, June 18, 2001: Major Buddhist centers have spread throughout the wooded hills and valleys of the Catskills. Academics and others say the Buddhist presence is steadily growing, both in the number of centers and in the increasing variety of their traditions. "The borscht belt has become the Buddhist belt," said Melvin McCleod, the editor of The Shambhala Sun, a leading Buddhist magazine. (The area was called the "Borscht belt" because of the large number of Jewish-oriented hotels built here in the 1950s.) The Dai Bosatsu opened here in 1976. "Some of America's most well-regarded and important Buddhist centers make their home in the Catskills," said Mr. McCleod. There are also several major yoga centers in this area.




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