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150-Year-Old Kali Temple Insured Against Terrorism

Posted on 2002/12/9 8:46:02 ( 1161 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, Thursday, December 5, 2002: Devotees visiting the 150-year-old Dakshineswar Kali Temple near Kolkata (Calcutta) may soon be insured against terrorist attacks. Though properties of temples are often insured against theft, this is the first temple to cover devotees as well under an anti-terrorist insurance umbrella. The temple, draws five thousand devotees daily and at its annual festival, Kalpataru Utsav, beginning December 15, that number soars to 1.5 million. The temple could be paying an annual premium of US$1.25 million in this first of its kind policy. Insurance companies say the concept exists, it is known as public liability insurance. However, figuring out how many devotees will be covered under the insurance at a time and for how much is proving tricky. The whole idea is yet to sink in among regular devotees. The temple has 20 guards of its own, with two of them armed while four men staff a police camp on the premises on a regular basis. On special occasions, like the forthcoming festival, the state does increase deployment of police.

Naga Sadhus to Guard India's Temples

Posted on 2002/12/9 8:45:02 ( 1164 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, December 6, 2002: Over 50 akharas (monastic orders) and ashrams in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal will soon prepare themselves for a new role when hundreds of thousands of Naga Sadhus associated with them would take up the security of temples and religious shrines in the country. "The Naga sadhus, numbering over 500,000 in the country, will not sit idle if temples continue to be targeted by non-believers," said Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara. "The Naga sect, founded by Shankaracharya to protect the sadhus and saints in the event of attacks, had virtually drifted away from their defined role after the supremacy of Sanatana Dharma was established in the country," said a member of Sriram Hastakhchar Abhiyan Samiti. When the threat to temples and other religious shrines abated, the Naga sadhus assumed different roles.

Hindu Gods Create Sanctity in Washington Museum

Posted on 2002/12/9 8:44:02 ( 1004 reads )


WASHINGTON D.C., U.S.A., December 6, 2002: An exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery here, "The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes From South India," doesn't waste much time. Its opening salute to this glorious art of the Chola period consists of three spectacular bronzes of God Siva as Nataraja, Lord of Dance. In each, Siva balances on his right leg while crooking his left up and across his body, communicating the sense of imminent motion -- be it a spin across the heavens or a tremor of devotion -- that animates all great Indian sculpture. The dancing Sivas, lent by museums in Dallas and Amsterdam and an unnamed private collector, lead off a succession of works, many of which are well known and widely reproduced, but are rarely, if ever, seen in one another's company. In a collaboration between the Sackler and the American Federation of Arts, this exhibition has been organized by Vidya Dehejia, a professor of art history at Columbia University and formerly the chief curator and deputy director of the Sackler. It is the first in the United States to concentrate solely on the bronze temple sculptures created during the nearly four-century reign of the devout, munificent and innovative Chola emperors. It would not be an overstatement to say that these sculptures are among the most beautiful ever made, in any material. There are 56 here, and they easily overcome the first requirement of any Sackler show, distracting viewers from the depressing reality of a museum that is mostly underground, nearly devoid of natural light and plagued by a confusing layout. The sculptures' transporting combination of formal perfection, religious gravity and life-affirming alertness can make the setting all but disappear.

Europe's Largest Hindu Temple Consecrated in Germany

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:49:02 ( 1229 reads )

Source: News Report

HAMM, GERMANY, October 2, 2002: The Ruhr Valley in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, is well known for its coal mining and steel tempering. And from now on it will also be associated with Europe's largest Hindu Temple. Dedicated to Sri Kamakshi Ambal, the temple was officially opened in Hamm-Uentrop, an industrial zone just outside the city, in ceremonies from June 30 to July 7, 2002. All consecration rituals were carried out by 14 priests who came especially for this occasion from India, Sri Lanka, Australia and the United States. Sri Lankan Priest Siva Paskaran's years of hard work and unflagging dedication to realize this dream have paid off, much to the delight of the 600 Hindus of Hamm and Germany's overall Hindu community of about 45,000. Seventeen years ago, Paskaran arrived in Germany as a refugee from war-torn Sri Lanka. He was on his way from Berlin to Paris, but when the train pulled into Hamm, hunger compelled him to disembark. For him, this was a sign from above that he should stay there and build a temple. The priest sought out a German architect by randomly pointing to a name in the yellow pages, Heinz-Rainer Eichhorst. This architect had never designed temples and had never been to India but was thrilled by the challenge of the project. He packed his bags and accompanied the priest for three weeks on travels through southern India to view large temple complexes. "You only get the chance to do a project like this once in a lifetime," he says. After plans were approved by the local authorities, the temple cornerstone was laid in March 2000. Ten Indian temple-building craftsmen are still at work decorating the 700 square meters of facade with sculptures and ornamentation. Now more than 15,000 people who come from all over Europe each year for the festival honoring Sri Kamakshi Ambal have a magnificent place of worship.

Interfaith Awareness Week Declared by Wisconsin Governor

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:48:02 ( 1021 reads )


MADISON, U.S.A., December 8, 2002: The Governor of Wisconsin has declared the week of December 9 as "Interfaith Awareness Week," with the main purpose of the celebration to develop awareness and establish mutual understanding and respect among religions. The American Hindu Association, along with six other faith groups, is participating. The inaugurating events will be on Tuesday, December 10 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in the Rotunda of the State Capital. Wisconsin's Governor, the County Executive, and the Mayor of Madison will send their proclamation on the inauguration day. Exhibits from all faiths, including the Hindu Association, will be on display. Kripa Baskaran will perform a dance on behalf of the American Hindu Association. Readers may contact "source" above for additional information.

Scientific Confirmation of Ancient Hindu Civilization

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:47:02 ( 1064 reads )

Source: News Report

BANGALORE, INDIA, December 2, 2002: The discovery of long-forgotten underwater settlements off the coast of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, by American marine archaeologists has pushed the antiquity of civilization in South India back by a few millennia and showed a link with Vedic civilization. This finding was voiced here on Monday by the noted American scholar in the Vedas and Hinduism, Dr. David Frawley. He was speaking along with Navarathna Rajaram, engineer and historian, who deciphered the Harappan seals. Dr. Frawley said fishermen along the Mahabalipuram coast had been mentioning the existence of temples and other structures beneath the Bay of Bengal and they had now been corroborated by underwater videography. He stressed the southern links of the civilization of ancient India, and said that the Vedic civilization was older than those of Mesopotamia and other regions held to be the most ancient by Western scholars by at least 4,000 years. Dr. Frawley argued that the Vedic civilization had maritime connections like most other civilizations. Rejecting the Aryan-Dravidian divide theory still adhered to by a section of historians, he quoted from the Rig Veda to point out that its most prominent sage, Vasistha, was the younger brother of Agasthya, the most prominent sage of South India. The Aryans and the Dravidians were the same people, Frawley asserts. The linguistic diversity of India was not surprising as it was a country of continental proportions. In a joint statement, the two scholars said that though the people of India were living at a time of exciting discoveries, they were concerned that there appeared to be some political pressure to deny students the benefit of those findings. An example was the discovery of the Vedic river, Saraswathi, which was one of the major triumphs of 20th century archaeology. It was an exciting story of satellite photography and archaeology working together to shed light on the Vedic tradition. "Our children should take pride in such discoveries. Yet we are told that vested interests in some States are directing teachers and textbook writers not to mention the Saraswati river.'' It was a throwback to the 16th century when Galileo was told by the Church not to teach the solar system. Such anti-intellectual attitudes should have no place in education, they said.

Business Leaders to Incorporate Spirituality at World Economic Forum

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:46:02 ( 1204 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 30, 2002: A unique concept has been masterminded by Klaus Schwab, president of the World Economic Forum, which will manifest at Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2003. Business leaders of the WEF have collaborated with forty spiritual leaders, representing a variety of world religions, to bring spirituality to the forum which, up until 9-11 has been focused on economics and technology. Schwab calls the new agenda a trust agenda and says, "A war will lead to enormous tension in the Western and Islamic world, and we need platforms where the two worlds can meet. We have decided to integrate various spiritual dimensions at Davos 2003." Hindus will be represented by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation.

Ecumenical Thanksgiving Gathering Held at Texas Hindu Temple

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:45:02 ( 913 reads )

Source: Austin American Stateman

AUSTIN, U.S.A., November 28, 2002: This year's 18th Ecumenical Thanksgiving Gathering sponsored by the Austin Area Inter-religious Ministries was held at the Barsana Dham Hindu temple. Attended by over 1,000 leaders from the Catholic, Episcopal, Protestant denominations, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and Hindu faiths, the gathering demonstrated America's religious freedom. Respecting Hindu tradition, everybody attending the ceremony took off their shoes before entering the temple. Rev. Greg McDonnell, president of the Ministries boards said, "This is as close a look as you're going to get at heaven on Earth." This comment was made after the reverend surveyed the multiracial audience wearing the attire of their religious tradition.

Indian Women May Be Prosecuted for Seeking Sex-Determinate Tests

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:44:02 ( 1047 reads )

Source: Times of India

BANGALORE, INDIA, December 8, 2002: Women too will henceforth be punished with three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 if they undergo sex-determination test, if the National Committee on Empowerment of Women have their say. In more than 98 per cent of the cases, pregnant women are forced by their families to terminate or abort the foetus if it is a girl child. Yet, the National Committee on Empowerment of Women has recommended that these women too be punished. How can the government punish the woman for no fault of hers, this article asks, when more often than not, she is forced by her family to undertake the sex-selection test. "The woman's marriage is at stake if she refuses," said Sabu George of the Center for Women Studies Development, Delhi. George said, "The government must prevent doctors from indulging in such unethical practices rather than punish hapless women." The organization has decided to take legal action against the committee. But Committee Chairperson Margaret Alva justified the punishment for women saying, "The mother is a collaborator in the entire process of eliminating the girl child. It is wrong to say that the majority of women who undergo sex-determination tests are illiterate and poor. It is the educated who undergo the test. A woman should have some kind of sensitivity. Punishing the woman will instill fear in her family, which will contribute towards ending the menace of female infanticide," she told the Sunday Times of India from Delhi.

Bengali Internet and Print Publications Announced

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:43:02 ( 1038 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, December 8, 2002: Since 1995 the first Bengali Internet Daily has been successfully online and published from India. The publishers announce a new publication of a print media Bengali magazine from Kolkata called "Sangbad Bichitra." Editor Dr. Subhra Bose invites Benaglis or others interested in Bengali news to visit their website to give their views, suggestions or to subscribe to Sangbad Bichitra. Additionally, Dr. Bose would like to communicate with other Bengali's residing outside India and invites them to contact him at "source" above. HPI asks readers to note they must be fluent in Bengali to read their website.

India Discovers Benefits From Bt. Cotton Not as Promised

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:42:02 ( 1048 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, December 7, 2002: Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt. (biotechnology) cotton in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh has failed on all three counts of ensuring higher yields, reducing pesticide usage and being economically rewarding for the farmer, according to an independent study commissioned by the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defense of Diversity. The study estimated that the farmers growing Bt. cotton would earn 40 percent less than non-Bt farmers. It found that the pesticide sprays have not come down and safety protocols have been ignored. "In view of these findings, we wonder if Bt. cotton is worth it at all, given the environmental and ecological costs," P. V. Satheesh, convener of the Coalition said, while demanding action against the multinational company for its "reckless promises and absolute lack of concern for safety aspects of Bt. farming." In economic terms, Bt. has proved a total failure, the study said. Bt. cotton farmers had spent $165 per acre while non-Bt ones spent $145 per acre. Yet the yields remained the same. In the local market Bt. cotton was fetching a price which was 10 per cent less than the price for non-Bt. cotton. The main reason for the lower price commanded by Bt. cotton was its smaller staple length and more seeds per boll than non-Bt. cotton. To beat the price difference between Bt. and non-Bt cotton, farmers started mixing both of them, to get a better price, oblivious of the disastrous effect it would have on bio-safety. When such mixed cotton seeds having Bt. come to the oil mills, there would be no segregation and the oil could be consumed by human beings and the feed by animals. This may pose unknown health hazards for both humans and animals.

Ramakrishna Mission Receives Honorary Mention from UNESCO

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:49:02 ( 1021 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 7, 2002: The Ramakrishna Mission has been selected for an honorary mention of the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for Promotion of Tolerance and Nonviolence 2002. The selection was unanimous, made by an international jury that met in Paris on October 3 and 4. UNESCO's communication sent to the Ramakrishna Mission states, "This honorary mention highlights UNESCO's recognition of your continuous activities to make peace and happiness prevail among the people, regardless of their caste or religious beliefs. We sincerely hope that the efforts of the Ramakrishna Mission will continue to flourish in the future to ensure the welfare of the people in India." The prize was instituted in 1995 by a foundation for Madanjeet Singh, an international civil servant who headed UNESCO. Earlier recipients of the honor include Gandhian worker Narayan Desai and South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Temple Rights Writ Filed in Chennai High Court

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:48:02 ( 1058 reads )

Source: The Times of India

TIRUCHIRAPALLI, INDIA, December 4, 2002: A writ petition has been filed in the Chennai High Court seeking to revive the age-old practice of reciting Vedic hymns at the Srirangam Ranganthaswamy Temple during annual festivals. The petitioner, Vaishnava Sri A. Krishnamachari, editor of Paanjchanyam, a religious monthly, has requested that the court issue directions to the Hindu religious and charitable endowments commissioner and joint commissioner-cum-executive officer of the temple to revive the traditional practice of Vedic pundits chanting seven chapters of Krishna Yajur Veda and hymns of Achitram, a Sanskrit scripture, on the occasion of the Vaikunda Ekadasi festival in the temple. The petitioner stated that the traditional recitation of Vedic hymns had been in vogue for years and that it had been withdrawn by the department "for reasons best known to them."

Men Now Pay to Get Married in India

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:47:02 ( 1070 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, Dec 4, 2002: Brides are becoming scarce in India because of a growing imbalance in the number of males and females being born here. The situation is so bad that some parents are not only dropping demands for wedding dowries, but are also offering a "bride price" when asking for a woman's hand in marriage for their sons. Nationwide, the number of girls under six declined from 945 for every 1,000 boys in 1991 to 927 last year. The problem is also growing in the capital, evidence that the theory which holds that a better educated and affluent population will cast away prejudices is incorrect. The main reason for the lopsided sex ratio ironically is modern technology. Indian cities are rife with illegal sex-determination clinics. In cities like New Delhi and states like Haryana, parents with better education and higher incomes pay for tests to determine the sex of their unborn child which, if a girl, would be aborted. India today tops the world in illegal abortions and female infanticide. The prevalence of sex-determination tests reflects a tradition that prefers boys.

India's Growing Population Imbalance

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:46:02 ( 1122 reads )

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