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Tamil Nadu Temple Endowment Plan Expanded

Posted on 2002/8/18 9:46:02 ( 498 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, August 15, 2002: The annadhanam scheme, launched by Tamil Nadu government in March last year in 63 select temples in the state is being extended to 63 more temples from Thursday in view of its tremendous success. Philanthrophists who wish to contribute towards this scheme could create endowments for US$306 for temples of their choice. At least 120 people would be fed on a particular day in a year out of the interest earned from such endowments, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said, while unfurling the national flag at the ramparts of Fort. St. George today on the occasion of Independence day celebrations here. Jayalalithaa said, as announced by her government earlier, the teaching of moral education would be extended to the new 63 temples. Interested students could participate in such moral education classes every Sundays for an hour.

Drought Hits Finances of Gaya Priests

Posted on 2002/8/17 9:49:02 ( 1001 reads )


GAYA, INDIA, August 11, 2002: The drought situation prevailing in several parts of the country, particularly Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, has made the "Gayawal pandas," the traditional priests of the temples here, jittery. Drought is likely to affect the inflow of pilgrims during the pitripaksha, the fortnight-long festival of souls scheduled to begin in the third week of September. More than a quarter-million Hindu pilgrims from different parts of the country and abroad visit Gaya during the pitripaksha to perform the rituals for their ancestors. More than 250 families of the Gayawal pandas, living in the religious center of the town, make out their livelihood from the offerings made by the visiting pilgrims during the fortnight-long rituals. The priests, till a few decades back known for their riches and interest in diverse activities ranging from Indian classical music to wrestling, are already passing through a bad phase on account of the declining religiosity and economic downslide of their main patrons, the landed aristocracy which has fast lost clout in the market economy. The drought has added to the problems of the Gayawal pandas.

Villagers Plan Temple for God's Elephant

Posted on 2002/8/17 9:48:02 ( 967 reads )


BALIGORADA, INDIA, August 10, 2002: Villagers here have decided to build a temple in honor of Laxmi, an elephant which died this week after suffering for about a fortnight. It turned out to be the last journey for Laxmi, the 45-year-old elephant which had come all the way from Varanasi to take part in Lord Jagannath's Car Festival, covering the distance in 50 days. The elephant had led the procession, but on its way back, it trod on some glass pieces and sustained injuries. Laxmi collapsed at Baligorada, 20 kms from Puri. The local villagers came to her aid giving food and water. The state government sent a team of veterinary doctors and also brought in experts from neighboring states to treat the elephant but it was too late. Laxmi died on August 5. The animal was cremated in Baligorada village. Thousands from nearby villages had flocked to see the animal when it was sick. Funds are being collected from the people of nearby villages to build the memorial temple.

Villagers Deify Women Who Committed Sati, Say She Upheld Tradition

Posted on 2002/8/17 9:47:02 ( 1043 reads )


PATNA TAMOLI, INDIA, August 7, 2002: Kuttu Bai, 65, committed sati, the banned practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre. Kuttu had been separated from her husband for some time. But so far as the people of this rural hinterland of Bundelkhand are concerned, they have witnessed a sacred act and Kuttu has been deified. The collective psyche of the village, and probably the region, still regards sati as a sacred practice. They are proud that there is a sati incident in the village every 50 years. "Around 52 years back, it was in Janu Chaurasia's family. Before that, it was in Brahmin Batt Padraha household," they said. Kuttu's two sons, daughters-in-law and neighbors say they tried to stop her initially. But Kuttu was like a woman possessed and she simply dressed up and followed her husband's funeral procession. As word got around, people from surrounding areas began pouring in. By noon, around 5,000 persons were already trying to reach the sati site, says Baddu Chaurasia of the village. Kuttu's sons Ashok Kumar Sen and Rajkumar Sen were produced in court on Wednesday. "A sati incident involves a lot of rituals. It didn't happen in this case. I believe the woman acted on emotional impulse," says Panna Collector Ravindra Pastore. Emotional distress at the death of a spouse is one of the leading causes of suicide among elderly in the US.

Go College, Stay Vegie

Posted on 2002/8/17 9:46:02 ( 1084 reads )


BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, August, 2002: The Vegetarian Resource Group Online Newsletter is always filled with handy information for vegetarians. This month's edition has information for the vegetarian college student, who may face special challenges when it comes to eating on campus. Check out these URL's for many practical suggestions on how to eat vegetarian style while maintaining a busy college life. Vegan & Vegetarian FAQ (http://www.vrg.org/catalog/faq.htm) gives many suggestions for vegetarian campus fare. A 30-day meatless menu at (http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/30daymenu.htm), a Veggie Viewpoint: Eating at College, (http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/30daymenu.htm) and Meatless Meals for Working People (http://www.vrg.org/catalog/meatless.htm). The university cafeteria should offer some vegetarian options, and there are many ready-made vegetarian frozen and boil-in-the-bag meals now available at supermarkets. If the cafeteria is finding it difficult to add more vegetarian meals, the VRG website offers brochures and assistance specific to food service, such as Foodservice Update, The Quantity Recipe Packet, and VEGAN IN VOLUME.

2002 Hindu Heritage Youth Camp Concludes

Posted on 2002/8/16 9:49:02 ( 1070 reads )


PEORIA, ILLINOIS, August 12, 2002: The 2002 Hindu Heritage Youth Camp just concluded in Peoria, Illinois. Children and adults from Central Illinois attended this camp to learn about universal values that are strongly emphasized in Hinduism, and also respected in other faiths. The goal was to prepare the youth so that they grow into role models who can lead society some day with tolerance, compassion and respect for all. A major theme of the camp was to make both youth and adults understand Hinduism's principles (philosophy) and practices so that they could take pride in them, see their relevance in today's world, and learn to apply them. For adult attendees, considerable emphasis was placed on how Hindu values and the socio-cultural aspects of Hindu heritage could be used to address current problems. Issues like education, demonstrating Hinduism's practice through example, ways of preserving this knowledge as the US becomes the primary home, etc. were discussed. Hopefully, events like these will trigger similar activities everywhere. For more information, e-mail "source" above.

England Drops Proposal to Remove Cross from Police Badges

Posted on 2002/8/16 9:48:02 ( 1157 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

LONDON, ENGLAND, August 16, 2002: The idea of removing the cross from the badge of London's police force has been dropped -- almost as soon as it was raised. The police badge is surmounted by a crown with a tiny cross on the top, and it had been suggested to remove the cross in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of non-Christian recruits. But the head of the Metropolitan Police, Commissioner Sir John Stevens, said Wednesday (Aug. 14) that following informal consultations with the Metropolitan Police Authority, the body of local officials and magistrates that oversees London's police force; the Metropolitan Police Federation (which represents police officers up to the rank of inspector); and the Superintendents' Association, he had concluded there would be no change to the insignia. The proposal was first made when a Muslim traffic warden threatened to take the police to an employment tribunal for race discrimination on the grounds that he could not wear the symbol of another faith, but he later dropped his claim.

Pranic and Psychic Healing Retreat Announced

Posted on 2002/8/16 9:47:02 ( 962 reads )


MIAMI, FLORIDA, August 16, 2002: The Institute for Holistic Yoga of North America, Satyananda Ashram, Miami, Florida, announced today its "Pranic and Psychic Healing Spiritual Retreat for Inner Joy and Happiness," for September 27 to 29, 2002, at a camp in Homestead, Florida. The program is conducted by H. H. Sri Swami Brahmavidyananda Saraswati, a world-renowned spiritual master and authority on yogic science from India. For more information, click "source" above.

Hindu University of America Announces New Courses

Posted on 2002/8/16 9:46:02 ( 1045 reads )


ORLANDO, FLORIDA, August 16, 2002: The Hindu University of America has announced new degree programs at courses in Sanskrit and various aspects of Hinduism. For further information, click "source" above.

Marxist Magazine Proclaims Mother Teresa the "Greatest Indian"

Posted on 2002/8/12 9:49:02 ( 1031 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, August 12, 2002: This BBC article states, "Mother Teresa of Calcutta has been voted the greatest Indian since the country's independence in 1947 in an Indian magazine survey. The top ten Indians are: Mother Teresa, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Indira Gandhi, JRD Tata, BR Ambedkar, Dhibhai Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar, Jayaprakash Narayan and Atal Behari Vajpayee. She was the only one on the list not an Indian by birth, and led the tally in most of the states in India and across all age groups in the survey carried out by leading English-language magazine, Outlook. Mother Teresa was ranked ahead of independent India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as front-line independence leader Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who was instrumental in getting the princely states to join the Indian Union. "The response was beyond anything we had imagined," an editorial in the magazine said. The responses kept flooding in over e-mail, fax and snail mail till the last minute." Respondents who are 60 years and above seem to be more cynical about Mother Teresa's contribution than the rest. The poll did not include the leader of India's freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi, because the magazine decided "to keep the father of the nation above a voting process." The BBC fails to critique the poll, which was not a random sampling, but a request for readers to respond. It was therefore subject to "ballot-box stuffing." There is no way to determine if this result reflects the views of Indians. The decision to eliminate Gandhi, who plausibly would have won, is questionable. But the BBC reports this results as fact, failing to point out these weaknesses, or that the magazine, Outlook, is a Marxist-oriented publication.

World Bank Lauds India's Efforts To Reduce Poverty

Posted on 2002/8/12 9:48:02 ( 929 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 7, 2002: World Bank Vice-President, Gobind T. Nankani, during a recent visit to monitor World Bank-aided poverty reduction projects, praised India for its efforts in poverty reduction. However, he felt the country had to do more toward more effective program implementation. The two striking features of the poverty reduction programs in India today, Nankani said, are better access to credit and self-help groups who have been working well to empower the people.

Preserving the Life of the Sacred Cow

Posted on 2002/8/12 9:47:02 ( 993 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 1, 2002: Established in August, 2001, the National Commission for Cattle has recently submitted a 1,500-page report to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee advocating that cow slaughter be put to a stop in India. Presently, beef forms part of many peoples' diet and is a lucrative export product along with cow leather. Statistically, India has 200 million cattle. Ghuman Mal Lodha, acting chairman of the commission, says, "India is 85% Hindu. Killing cattle is worse than killing human beings as the animals cannot defend themselves." In the 1,500-page report, Lodha has recommended 51 different solutions such as, "Prohibition of slaughter of the cow and its progeny should be made a fundamental right, and a Central Cattle Protection Rapid Task Force should be set up with offices in each state."

Festival To Worship Snakes Is Causing Their Deaths

Posted on 2002/8/12 9:46:02 ( 1020 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 11, 2002: Naag Panchami, a festival for the worship of snakes, is gradually becoming the cause of their death. Snakes are often captured in suffocating bags, kept in tiny dark boxes, and given no food or water so that they can drink the milk offered on the holy day which falls this year on August 13. The milk offered to snakes often results in severe diseases and allergic reactions -- possibly because so much milk sold in India is adulterated. Snakes can also be blinded when the tikka applied to their hoods during the worship gets into their eyes. Added to this is the problem created by people who kill the snakes to sell their skins. "The festival has always left behind a trail of dead and mutilated cobras. Nowhere have we heard of many snakes being killed on one occasion," according to naturalist Vijay Awsare. Appealing to people to help in saving the snakes, People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) has drawn attention to the security offered by Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which also lay down provisions for punitive action against those indulging in cruelty. The Bombay High court has banned exhibition and procession of snakes in Battis Shirala village in western Maharashtra during the festival, following a public interest litigation filed by two environmental organizations.

US Deepavali Stamp Proposed by Congressman

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:49:02 ( 861 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., August 8, 2002: Possibly more than two million Hindus in America, from India, Africa, Caribbean, Fiji and native-born, now celebrate Deepavali (Diwali), the festival of lights, each year at the end of October or the beginning of November. Backed by these numbers from a 2000 census, Gary Ackerman, top Democrat on the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, is advocating that the U.S. create a postage stamp to honor Deepavali. In a letter to Dr. Virginia Noelke, chairperson of the U.S. Citizens Stamp Advisory Commission, Ackerman said, "For Hindus, the holiday of Diwali is comparable in magnitude to Christmas for Christians," Congressman Ackerman was prompted to introduce the idea of a Diwali stamp by the New York-based Federation of Indian Associations. Amitabh Sharma, president of the India-American Cultural Association in Atlanta says, "A Diwali stamp is a symbol that 2.5 million Hindus in the U.S. would be happy about. It should be welcoming -- an open namaste (hands in welcome) with the diya (deepa, lamp)."

India Schoolkids Block PM's Dream Project

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:48:02 ( 965 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, August 7, 2002: The Prime Minister's dream project of building a golden quadruple around Lucknow received a set back on Tuesday when 400-plus schoolchildren stood in the way of bulldozers, all set to raze three acres of green belt to ground near Gomtinagar railway station. The schoolchildren fought a battle of wits all day with officials of the Lucknow Development Authority, police forces, bulldozers of the National Highway Authority of India and some private contractors, who were to pull down over 2,500 trees, which these schoolchildren of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan had planted in the green belt and had nurtured for a decade. While government officials, accompanied by the latest machines and police security, had the task of beginning the US$65 million dream, the students and their teachers had only will and determination to save their efforts and the only green belt of the area, which supplies priceless oxygen. The impasse continued till late in the evening and both the parties have petitioned the governor.

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