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First Deepavali Celebrations at UK's Trafalgar Square

Posted on 2002/11/7 8:49:02 ( 1022 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

LONDON, ENGLAND, November 2, 2002: The venue was Trafalgar Square, a London landmark that is a must see for visitors, but on Friday evening it was decorated in a manner not seen in London before. Ringed by 50 colorful saris, the fountains were switched off to make way for Deepavali lamps on the pool and "Happy Deepavali" posters could be seen everywhere. On the stage in the middle, the Dhol Foundation set up a drumbeat that had the Indian crowd dancing along with some German, Austrian, American and Japanese tourists who unsuspectingly celebrated what was perhaps their first Deepavali. London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who opened Trafalgar Square for the Deepavali celebrations this year, came on stage to wish everyone a Happy Deepavali, and added, "There is no city in the world that brings together all nations, creeds and races as London does. We represent the diversity of the world and we are comfortable we do." The Greater London Authority that managed Deepavali this year says next year's celebrations will be bigger and brighter.

South Indian Couples Seek Geneticists for Marriage Compatibility

Posted on 2002/11/7 8:48:02 ( 1052 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, November 5, 2002: Fear of genetic disease is forcing traditional South Indian couples to seek their geneticist's medical wisdom to sift through family history and match their genes. More than 15 per cent of the population of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu seek a match from within the family. For the purpose of keeping their wealth within the family these marriages have become the highest in India. Geneticists say the chances are high of conditions such as Down's syndrome, other forms of mental retardation and autism being passed on to children when relatives marry.

Chicago Vedanta Society Makes History with New Temple

Posted on 2002/11/7 8:47:02 ( 939 reads )


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, November 5, 2002: Swami Vivekananda is credited with introducing Hinduism and Yoga to America in 1893. A dream Swami had was to build a "Temple Universal" which a century later is being brought to fruition by the Chicago Vedanta Society. "We are planning to build an historic temple and monastery -- a sanctuary where people of all faiths can come to worship, study, and pray," says Swami Chidananda of the Ramakrishna Mutt and Mission and head of the Chicago Vedanta Society. Swami Chidananda says the project will be completed by 2005. Initially, an interfaith shrine, a large prayer hall seating more than 500 people, and an ashram would be built on a 15-acre site located in a Chicago suburb. The ashram, providing serene surroundings for meditation and yoga, will include guesthouses for visitors coming to receive instruction in meditation, religion and spiritual practices. The entire project will be financed through donations.

Young Indian Professionals Relax With Tai Chi Breaks

Posted on 2002/11/7 8:46:02 ( 1135 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, November 4, 2002: There is a growing number of young professionals from Bangalore and Chennai taking to Tai Chi, a Chinese contemplative exercise program, which they believe helps them stay focused amid the frenetic world of computer technology. While yoga has always been popular, Tai Chi has recently begun drawing a following in South India mainly due to the efforts of Taiji Master George Thomas in Chennai, and his sister, Cicily Thomas in Bangalore. Mr. Thomas, who started out as a karate instructor, took up Tai Chi in 1995. The 43-year-old, who qualified as a Tai Chi master from Australia-based grand master Fu Sheng Yuan, is the only authorized Tai Chi master in India. Ms Thomas, 33, who learned under her brother, takes one class a day and has some 15 students at any given time, but at special demonstrations up to 200 turn up. Ms Thomas reports many of her students say they have noticed relief from stress, hypertension, insomnia and even heart conditions. Her brother now also oversees two more branches for his Tai Chi academy, in Hyderabad and Coimbatore, and hopes to start chapters in New Delhi and Mumbai, where Tai Chi is yet to arrive.

Malaysian Hindu Renaissance Committee Announces Important Planning Meeting

Posted on 2002/11/6 8:49:02 ( 941 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, November 6, 2002: There will be a final organizational meeting on November 13, at 7:30 p.m., for the Hindu Renaissance Rally to be held November 17, 2002. Leaders of Hindu organizations, Temples, members of the central council of the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, and members of the organizing committee are asked to attend this very important meeting to discuss issues of interfaith relations. The meeting venue is Malaysia Hindu Sangam Headquarters, No. 8, Jalan Duku, Off Jalan Kasipillay, 51200 Kuala Lumpur. Additional information on the Malaysian Hindu Sangam's Hindu Renaissance, 2002, can be found at "source" above.

Maneka Gandhi Intervenes in Animal Sacrifice Rites

Posted on 2002/11/6 8:48:02 ( 1075 reads )


PATRAPADA, INDIA, November 7, 2002: Every year on the Maha Bishuva Sankranti day more than 1,000 goats and sheep are sacrificed at the Bayani Thakurani (Goddess Kali) Temple in Patrapada village, Angul district, Orissa. This year Maneka Gandhi stepped in to save the animals and additionally to stop the age-old tradition of large-scale animal sacrifice. A week before the Sankranti day, district collector L.N. Gupta received a letter from Gandhi asking him to take steps to stop the mass sacrifice. A contingent of police, led by S. P. Arun Bothra, went to Patrapada to convince the people to do away with the practice. Temple priests and devotees initially refused to make any changes as they feared breaking from this tradition would bring misfortune. After a four-hour discussion the priests were persuaded and requested the administration to allow symbolic sacrifice of one animal instead of more than a thousand goats. HPI adds: The report indicates nothing about the fate of the animals after the police intervention. Most likely the goats still ended up as dinner, as the protest was against the ritual sacrifice of the animals and not their killing per se.

Kanchipuram Sankaracharya Speaks Out on Forcible Conversion Bill

Posted on 2002/11/6 8:47:02 ( 972 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, October 31, 2002: The Hindu religion does not subscribe to untouchability, which is prevalent in some rural areas, states Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi. Untouchability exists, His Holiness believes, because of illiteracy and can be eradicated only by educating people. His Kanchipuram Mutt is taking steps to eradicate it. Referring to a recent court ruling that anyone with the requisite qualification could be made a temple priest, he said already there were thousands of temples in the State where nonbrahmin priests performed the worship. While denying that he was instrumental in bringing the Tamil Nadu bill banning forcible conversions, His Holiness did say that he supported the bill. At present there was no bar on people carrying out charitable activities and religious organizations had every right to do so. The bill objected to it only when it was done with a motive to convert people, he said.

Meenakshi Temple Gopuram Damaged by Rain

Posted on 2002/11/6 8:46:02 ( 1112 reads )


MADURAI, INDIA, November 6, 2002: Heavy and continuous rains have damaged an older gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple in Tamil Nadu. Dedicated to Mother Goddess, Meenakshiamman, the temple is 500 km south of Chennai. The gopuram of the Mukkuruni Vinayaka temple, built in 1559 and dedicated to Lord Ganesha, was damaged. It is one of the smaller towers, about 69 ft high and with 112 statues carved on it. Some local papers said the gopuram was hit by lightning, however the electricity board says that is not possible as there are lightning conductors on the temple towers. Temple authorities say the gopuram is being repaired.

Fox Network Plans Arranged Marriage Series

Posted on 2002/11/6 8:45:02 ( 994 reads )

Source: CNN.com

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, October 31, 2002: Fox Television Network is developing "Married by America," a weekly reality series that will search for people anxious to get married -- and then set them up with arranged marriages. The American viewing public will play matchmaker, voting on which couples will get engaged. "Married" is the latest in what has become an increasingly heated battle to come up with the reality concepts. "Married by America," targeted for early next year, will likely unfold over six to eight weeks, beginning with a nationwide search "for people who are tired of the dating scene and are open to the idea of having a marriage arranged for them," said Fox's Mike Darnell. The likely scenario is to first cast a small number of people who are willing to have the public find a match for them. Next, a large group of potential brides and grooms will be chosen by marriage experts so that each person in the first group has five or ten potential mates. In subsequent episodes people will be questioned by friends and family members and viewers will decide the final matching. Cameras will follow all of the newly engaged couples as they get to know one another. In the season finale the couples will announce whether they plan to get married on the show or call off their engagement. HPI adds: While Fox is after ratings with the show, there is a definite renewed interest in marriage arranging in the West, where the very high divorce rate is causing many to reconsider current match-finding methods. A century ago in America and Europe many marriages were arranged by the parents. Even newspaper ads were used to find brides and grooms, as is done in India today.

Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Promises State Deepavali Mela

Posted on 2002/11/3 8:49:02 ( 979 reads )


WASHINGTON D.C., United States, November 1, 2002: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, niece of late president John F. Kennedy, has promised the Indian community that she would organize a Deepavali Mela at the Maryland State House if she is elected Maryland's governor in the November 5 election. She also pledged to strengthen economic ties between Maryland and India. Along with Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes, she attended the Deepavali Mela, an annual feature, which attracted about 25,000 people from the greater Washington area, comprising parts of Virginia and Maryland. She said she was so impressed by the colorful and traditional event, that she decided the Indian American community deserved a bigger and better place for the celebrations, namely the governor's house -- if she were elected Maryland's next governor. She recalled how her uncle, President Kennedy, and her father, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, liberalized the American immigration law to facilitate entry into the United States of talented people the world over.

New York's Amazingly Diverse Religious Landscape

Posted on 2002/11/3 8:48:02 ( 1004 reads )

Source: Newsday (New York, NY)

FLUSHING, NEW YORK, October 21, 2002: New immigrants coming to America are seeking solace in their religious roots and nowhere is this more evident than in New York City. Rajesh Vohra, a 39-year-old restaurant manager originally from New Delhi, says, "First I began coming to the Ganapati Temple on Bowne Street because I missed family members and I missed my culture. It became a habit that brought me a lot of peace. Now I feel if I didn't have this place to come to, I would be lost." Rev. David Tsang from the Boon Church of the Overseas Chinese Mission says, "We call Bowne Street 'The Holy Land' because we have so many churches, temples, and synagogues. I think the main reason is the number of newcomers who feel they have no place else to turn except to God." Tony Carnes, director of the Research Institute for New Americans in lower Manhattan says, "The New York area is attracting one of the most diverse concentrations of religions that the world has ever seen." Robert Orsi, a scholar of urban religion who teaches at Harvard Divinity School says, "Immigrants often become far more identified with their religion here, in part because they reach out to religious and cultural communities for help, and in part because they discover that religion plays such a key role in American identity." A 2000 survey of religious participation by the Nashville-based Glenmary Research Center indicates that 62.4% of people living in New York metro area are connected with a house of worship and that the 29-county New York metro claims more Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Hindus than any place else in America.

UK Hindu Youth Organize for Deepavali

Posted on 2002/11/3 8:47:02 ( 952 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, October 28, 2002: Hundreds of young British Hindus, from various communities and youth groups worked side-by-side in an extraordinary show of solidarity, creativity and inspiration to put on the Get Connected Hindu Youth Festival in London. Over 9,000 visitors flocked to the spectacular Alexandra Palace in North London to attend the free festival, which sought to increase understanding of the Hindu faith and Indian culture amongst the people of Britain. The festival showed a huge interest amongst young British Hindus to study and experience their faith and culture first hand, and not rely solely on interpretations from parents and other family members. Attended by the Mayor of Haringey and his wife, the festival transformed Alexandra Palace into seven theme zones -- food, chill-out, kids, chat, careers, culture and health and vitality. Visitors experienced the healing hands of Reiki and took part in yoga workshops. Vidya Shankar Panchanathan, a coordinator in the kids zone commented, "The happy of faces of both children and parents to me summed up the whole event as Celebrating Life." With the completion of the London event, the Get Connected team are turning to the final step in the trilogy, Get Connected Birmingham, which is taking place on November 16, 2002.

Kerala to Integrate Spirituality and Medicine

Posted on 2002/11/3 8:46:02 ( 985 reads )


TIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA, October 29, 2002: The government of Kerala is making efforts to integrate spirituality with the medical system in their bid to tackle the growing incidence of mental afflictions in the state. The idea is to ensure availability of a psychiatrist, laboratory, referral infrastructure and other modern facilities in these centers to enable them to better serve patients. It intends to set certain standards for more than 100 spiritual healing centers presently operating in the state and has sent notices to 26 prominent institutions to gauge their reactions about the proposal. "The response has been encouraging. The majority of them are willing to experiment using the scientific tools along with spiritual practices," SMHA Secretary, Dr. Suraraj Mani said. "Spirituality is even part of the medical curriculum in several universities in the United States. The psychiatrists in the country should welcome our initiative since a large number of mentally ill are reluctant to seek modern treatment due to the stigma attached to the mental hospitals in the country," Dr. Mani believes. Spiritual healing centers have a greater social acceptance in India as a large number of mentally ill prefer these centers believing they provide a better feeling of safety and comfort than mental hospitals. Kerala has several temples famous for healing the mentally ill.

A Sari is a Work of Art

Posted on 2002/11/3 8:45:02 ( 1426 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, October 25, 2002: It is not just a piece of fabric six yards long and 48 inches wide, says Bela Shanghvi, who for the past twenty years has worked tirelessly to promote the craftsmanship that goes into making an exquisite sari. As a result of changing lifestyles, demand for the sari has fallen along with the rich heritage of textile designs and weaving techniques. It is precisely this heritage that Shanghvi, President of the Maharashtra Crafts Council works to preserve. According to Shanghvi, paithani, the Maharashtran technique of brocade weaving, is a work of art. A sari made of this cloth would take one to one and a half years to complete and would cost at least US$140. Shanghvi has identified about 360 techniques of weaving that are indigenous to India.

East Meets West in Bach and Bharata Natyam

Posted on 2002/11/3 8:44:02 ( 997 reads )


NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, November 1, 2002: Two classical traditions, one Indian and one Western, will come together in New York during Bharata natyam dance recitals set to the music of renowned classical Western composer Johann Sebastian Bach. "Bach-Bharata Natyam Variations" is part of a project to rethink the Indian dance from a 21st century perspective, says a statement announcing the recitals by danseuse Rajika Puri. Puri will collaborate with classical pianist Marija Ilic for the Bach-Bharata Natyam program to be performed in New York November 9-11.

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