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Swaminarayan Sect Criticizes Call for General Strike

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:49:02 ( 1055 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 26, 2002: The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, whose temple in Gandhinagar was the target of a terrorist strike on Thursday, said that it did not support any bandh, general strike, called over the killings and appealed to the people to maintain peace and unity. "Bandhs only cause economic losses to the country. Even if a bandh has to be organized, it has to be on behalf of all organizations and not separately. Moreover, it should be symbolic for a few hours or half-a-day aimed at paying respects to the deceased," Sadhu Mukund Jiwan Das, head of the Swaminarayan temple in Delhi, said. He was responding to a question on whether the sect supported the Bharat bandh call given by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena. Earlier, scores of Swaminarayan devotees along with activists of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front paid homage to the devotees and security personnel killed in the Akshardham temple attack by maintaining two minutes' silence, singing devotional songs and chanting Swaminarayan mantra. Meanwhile, in his message, head of the Swaminarayan sect Pramukh Swami Maharaj Shastri Narayan Swarupdas has appealed to all the people of Gujarat and the rest of the country to maintain peace and unity "in the wake of this national tragedy."

The Silent Heroes of Akshardham

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:48:02 ( 1044 reads )

Source: Rediff

GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 26, 2002: They are the unknown and unsung heroes, the few brave men who made a real difference in containing the massacre at the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat: police officers who crawled into the temple to take on the terrorists in the middle of the night; commandos martyred even as they helped finish off the terrorists; temple volunteers whose quick reactions saved many devotees; and the ascetics who calmed the people and assisted the security forces. The ordinary citizens include Atul, one of the first to spot the terrorists. Instead of running for his life, he alerted the entire compound by intercom, a critical factor in reducing the death toll as other volunteers quickly shut doors throughout the complex. Sanjay Khamar and Sanjay Kulkarni in the face of gunfire locked the doors of the media center with 80 people safely inside. Kordsinh slammed shut the main doors of the temple, getting shot in the process. Security officers believe had Kordsinh not shown the presence of mind to shut the main temple door, the terrorists could have captured many of the devotees inside, leading to a long-drawn hostage crisis. Finally, despite the mayhem all around, the swamis remained calm and kept a vigil over devotees all through the night. The information they provided the police and the paramilitary proved priceless. Brahmavihari Swami and his colleagues briefed state police officers and National Security Guards commandos about the temple layout, using the help of a wooden model of the temple complex. Brigadier Raj Seethapathy, who headed the NSG team at Akshardham, acknowledged that the operation became "very easy" because of the brilliant briefing by the swamis. Tragically, one swami, Parameshwar Swami, was killed in the terrorist attack. He sustained injuries and breathed his last on September 25, when he was evacuated from the complex. His colleagues mourned in silence, and controlling their grief, issued a statement calling for peace, harmony and religious tolerance.

Temples Across India Under Tight Security

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:47:02 ( 953 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 25, 2002: Temples and other places of worship across the country are under tight security following the terrorist attack at the Swaminarayan Temple in Gandhinagar. Keeping in mind the recent riots in Gujarat after the Godhra train massacre, the Army has deployed 3,000 personnel to sensitive areas of Gujarat as a precaution against any problems that may arise. Besides Gujarat, several states, including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, were already on high alert within hours after the attack at Gandhinagar. In New Delhi the Joint Commissioner of Police Satish Chandra said, "Special alert has been sounded all over the city and we are taking all necessary steps." Tight security arrangements had been made in the sprawling Chhatarpur temple complex, the Iskcon temple, the Baha'i temple, Malai Mandir, Laxmi Narayan temple, the Hanuman temples at Connaught Place and Yamuna Bazaar, Gaurish temple in Chandni Chowk and other prominent shrines. Police personnel have also been deployed outside important gurudwaras, churches, mosques, Buddhist monasteries and Jain temples while devotees were being frisked and vehicles checked.

Lord Ganesha Given a Grand Farewell

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:46:02 ( 948 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, September 22, 2002: The entire city came out on the streets on Friday afternoon to bid farewell to Lord Ganesha, and patiently waited until the early hours of Saturday when the last idol was immersed. The procession began after mayor Deepti Chaudhari performed puja (worship) of the first Ganapati exactly at noon at the historic Mahatma Phule Mandai on Friday. The procession, which lasted for 28 hours and 40 minutes, flowed through four major roads; Laxmi Road, Tilak Road, Kumthekar Road and Kelkar Road. All five main Ganapatis were accompanied by cultural pageants organized by various schools. One of the major attractions of the Tilak road procession was a tableau of the Market Yard Ganesha Mandal, which depicted the scene of Ganga coming to Earth. Illuminated chariots of the Dagdu Sheth Halwai Ganapati Trust and the Akhil Mandai Mandal, which are the usual draws every year, made their presence felt this time too. The Akhil Mandai Mandal used 50,000 bulbs to illuminate their chariot.

U.S. Team in Dhaka to Probe Attacks on Hindus

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:45:02 ( 941 reads )


DHAKA, BANGLADESH, September 25, 2002: A four member United States congressional team is in Dhaka to investigate reports of attacks on Hindus living in Bangladesh. The delegation will submit a report to the International Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress by October 3 in Washington D.C. The team, which arrived here Monday, will meet Hindus who were allegedly tortured in the period following the October elections in which the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance came to power. Leaders of the Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Committee, for Durga Puja celebrations, had reportedly urged members of the Hindu community, Bangladesh's largest minority, to speak out at home and abroad against the atrocities. State Minister for Water Resources Goutam Chakrabarty has accused the Hindu leaders of inciting communal disharmony by asking Hindus to publicize the attacks on them. Chakrabarty told the official BSS news agency: "The remarks of these leaders have annoyed members of the Hindu community. It's a suicidal bid and a conspiracy to destroy communal harmony."

American Desi Makes Miss America Contest

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:44:02 ( 1004 reads )


ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY, September 19, 2002: Considering the beauty business has become such a regular stomping ground for Indians, Bharata Natyam at the Miss America Pageant was bound to happen sooner or later. It arrived in grace in Atlantic City Wednesday night when Shoha Kirti Parekh, 24, performed Bharata Natyam in the talent section of the Miss America pageant before an audience more used to seeing piano recitals, guitar playing or, at the very outside, a Tahitian dance. Parekh, an Indian-American who unexpectedly became Miss Delaware in August this year, showcased her dancing skills in the run-up to the Miss America finale. She missed the top ten in the finale, however.

Pramukh Swami Calls for Restraint in Wake of Temple Attack

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:49:02 ( 1123 reads )

Source: HPI

GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 25, 2002: In response to our urgent inquiry, HPI received the following message from the Swaminarayan Center in Gandhinagar, "We thank you for your concern. You would already know that the incident has ended and the two terrorists have been killed by the army. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has prayed for the souls of the dead and for the speedy recovery of the injured, to all the Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Bhagwan Swaminarayan for giving due strength to the family members to bear with the loss of the innocents killed by the terrorists. He has also sincerely appealed to all devotees and citizens to keep calm in this time of crisis, and not resort to violence. We thank you again for your concern, and are sure you would all have prayed for the souls of the departed and for strength to their family and friends."

US Temples Mourn Gujarat Massacre

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:48:02 ( 993 reads )


WASHINGTON, DC, September 25, 2002: Hours after the massacre of some 30 devotees in Gujarat, hundreds of disciples gathered for prayers at Swaminarayan temples across the United States, where the group has a wide following, while President Bush and his administration strongly condemned the murderous attack. The most prominent meeting was at the Swaminarayan Sanstha Temple in Edison, New Jersey, where a previously planned prayer meeting with state and local officials turned into a long-distance wake. With dozens of temples across the US, the Swaminarayan Sanstha is the most prominent and non-controversial among Hindu organizations and has had goodwill visits by several public figures, including former President Bill Clinton. US-based devotees say the Swaminarayan complexes here are not only temples but also cultural, spiritual, historical and social centers. More than 300 people gathered at the Beltsville Temple last night in an impromptu prayer meeting as news of the massacre spread among devotees, Kirit Patel, the temple priest said. More prayers are planned for the weekend.

Protest Planned for "Saffron Warriors" Screening

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:47:02 ( 1085 reads )

Source: Press Release

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 25, 2002: Some Hindus have expressed concern about the screening of the film, "Saffron Warriors," scheduled for Barnard College of Columbia University, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY, Room 304, Barnard Hall, at 6:00 pm on September 27. The 23-minute film by Elizabeth Jones is described by the college: "The documentary is on Nazi-style politics in Gujarat. It was made two months ago -- nearly 4 months after the outbreak of systematic state-sponsored violence against Muslims in this western state of India. It looks at the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and its repercussions on ordinary people. It also examines the impact of RSS on the future of Indian people through the eyes of those trapped in refugee camps, business men and middle class families."

Request for Fijian Hindi to be Incorporated in School Curriculum

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:46:02 ( 1003 reads )


SUVA, FIJI, September 20, 2002: High school students and teachers have called on the Ministry of Education to incorporate Fiji Hindi into the curriculum. The teachers said the use of pure Hindi by radio stations at times raises a number of questions one, of which being, "Is every Indo-Fijian here able to understand the use of pure Hindi, particularly, some words used in the news bulletins and the figures read in Hindi?" Students interviewed said they would be more comfortable if they could use Fiji-Hindi, which they speak daily at home, in their exams. However, some students are also of the view that if they do not study pure Hindi, then they will forget their mother tongue completely.

Tennessee Temple Modeled After India's Venkateswaran Temple

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:45:02 ( 1060 reads )

Source: gomemphis.com

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 19, 2002: For more than a year, Loganathan Chinnasamy and his crew have labored at the Indian Cultural Center's temple in Eads, Tennessee. The nine men left their homes in India to decorate a Hindu house of worship modeled after one of their homeland's most revered temples, Sri Venkateswara in Thirumala. While the Hindu Temple in Eads has been functioning for eight years, Chinnasamy is now charged with turning it into the detailed work of art that marks the finest of Hindu temples. A community center will be added to the existing cultural center within the next five years, said Dr. Prasad Duggirala, chairman of the board of trustees, adding that the improvements to the 11.5-acre compound are being taken in steps, "so we don't have too much financial burden." The temple serves an Indian community of 5,000 to 6,000 devotees in and around Shelby County, Tennessee.

Terrorists Attack Akshardham Temple in Gujarat, 44 Dead

Posted on 2002/9/24 9:49:02 ( 1011 reads )


GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 25, 2002: Forty-four people, including men, women and children, were killed and another 100 seriously injured in a deadly attack by terrorists on the Akshardham temple complex here on Tuesday evening. Two terrorists are presently engaged in a gun battle with security forces joined by NSG commandos flown in from Delhi. The two terrorists, now on the complex's roof, have inflicted injuries on security personnel trying to get closer. At least 500 people have been rescued from the 23-acre temple complex. A temple spokesman, Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, said about 100 people are believed to be inside the multimedia auditorium but they appeared to be safe. Official sources said 44 people have been killed and their bodies have been shifted to civil hospitals here and in Ahmedabad. Some Hindu monks have been reported among the casualties. Briefing newsmen, Deputy Prime Minister L K. Advani said in Delhi that two to four terrorists staged the attack. They arrived in an ambassador car and climbed over the temple wall to enter the premises. The terrorists were armed with AK-47 rifles. The terrorists, according to Advani, entered the sprawling Akshardham temple complex at around 4:45 pm and started shooting indiscriminately at the visitors. Three to four grenades were also hurled at the devotees.

Mumbai Devotees Bid Goodbye to Ganesha

Posted on 2002/9/24 9:48:02 ( 986 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, September 21, 2002: Hundreds of thousands of devotees bid farewell to their favorite Lord Ganesha on Friday, immersing icons of the Deity amidst shouts of "Ganapati bappa morya, pudchya varshi lavkar yaa," a ritual that marks the end of the 10-day festival. Huge icons of the lord smiled at the devotees as they were taken to the beach for immersion while young boys and girls, danced to the tune of the drum and tasha. Ganesha icons of all sizes and shapes and in a riot of colors made their way majestically onto the Chowpatty sands. At one count, 443 large icons and 8,785 small icons had been immersed at Chowpatty. Devotees milled around bidding farewell by performing the last arati (worship with lamps) of this year's festival before leading the popular deity into the waters. Many families with small children and grandparents could be seen bidding good-bye to the Ganesha icons that had enlivened their homes for the last ten days.

NASA Photos Reveal Bridge to Lanka

Posted on 2002/9/24 9:47:02 ( 1073 reads )


USA, September 24, 2002: Space images taken by NASA reveal a mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The recently discovered bridge, clearly visible in the NASA photos, is made of a chain of underwater shoals 18 miles long. This article claims the bridge appears "manmade," but does not say how that conclusion was arrived at, nor if NASA agreed. According to the Ramayana, Lord Rama built a bridge to Lanka in ancient times, and the new photos greatly intrigue Hindus.

Miracle Reported in Gujarat Siva Temples

Posted on 2002/9/23 9:49:02 ( 901 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, September 23, 2002: Reports of a miracle have people thronging to Siva temples across the state. People have sighted "Om" on Siva Lingams in temples and observed water was flowing out of the icon. Crowds thronged Siva temples at Hatkeshwar, Amraiwadi, Vatva, and Navrangpura in Ahmedabad, and Karelibaug, Makarpura and other places in Vadodara. In Ahmedabad, the crowds got so unwieldy that police reinforcements had to be rushed to control them. According to reports, the Somnath temple, which is among the 12 Jyotir Lingams, was also thrown open and people were seen performing arati (worship with lights) at the temple, hoping to witness the miracle.

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