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US Deepavali Stamp Proposed by Congressman

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:49:02 ( 865 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.

London Trinity College to Give Indian Music Degree

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:47:02 ( 983 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, August 11, 2002: Bestowing high recognition on Indian music, Trinity College, London has tied up with the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to provide a degree course in Indian music. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Dartington College of Music have also shown interest in collaborating with the music Department of the Bhavan and Pandit Ravi Shankar has promised to extend his assistance in ensuring that the new venture becomes a success, Chairman of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, UK, Manik Dalal, said at a function organized in connection with India's Independence Day Celebration.

A City Hooked on Vastu Feng Shui

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:46:02 ( 1011 reads )

A HREF="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?artid=18605523"GO TO SOURCE/A/P

PATNA, INDIA, August 10, 2002: Want money? Praying for health? Having trouble in your marital life? Driven by anxieties and apprehensions of modern lifestyle, Patnaites are now trying to find one-stop solutions to their problems in ancient practices of Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui. Feng Shui, a Chinese set of principles of spatial arrangement and objects, with its aesthetic value, is enjoying growing popularity in the state capital. However, what has left architects in the city squirming is the newly-acquired fame of Vastu Shastra, a set of ancient architectural rules. "Vastu is enjoying so such popularity in the city that we are forced to incorporate Vastu elements in our plans. Seventy per cent of my clients want Vastu designing elements," says Neeraj Saunik, an architect. Another architect, Ashesh Kumar, has lost out on clients on his refusal to toe the lines of Vastu Shastra. "Often it clashes with architectural sense...." But the mushrooming of fake Vastu consultants and the entry of black sheep in their profession, is not going down well with city architects. Says Kumar, "People from Patna, Muzaffarpur and Begusarai are calling expensive Vastu consultants from Mumbai and Delhi. Today such consultants are flourishing in the city and earning anything between US$204 and $1,000," he says. "Even pundits and purohits have extended their services to include Vastu consultancy," he adds. "Are these Vastu Shastris backed by a degree or a course? Many of them just read books on the subject and start advising," says Saunik.

NY Times Columnist on Why India and Pakistan Backed Off War

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:45:02 ( 1006 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, August 8, 2002: When the State Department issued a travel advisory on May 31 warning Americans to leave India because the war prospects had risen to "serious levels," global firms like Nortel Networks, Reebok, Sony, American Express, HSBC and GE Capital, who had moved their back rooms to Bangalore went nuts, according to this opinion column in the New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman. "That day," said Vivek Paul, vice chairman of Wipro, "I had a C.I.O. [chief information officer] from one of our big American clients send me an e-mail saying: 'I am now spending a lot of time looking for alternative sources to India. I don't think you want me doing that, and I don't want to be doing it.' I immediately forwarded his letter to the Indian ambassador in Washington and told him to get it to the right person." For many global companies, "the main heart of their business is now supported here," said N. Krishnakumar, president of MindTree. "It can cause chaos if there is a disruption." While not trying to meddle in foreign affairs, he added, "what we explained to our government, through the Confederation of Indian Industry, is that providing a stable, predictable operating environment is now the key to India's development." This was a real education for India's leaders in New Delhi, but, officials conceded, they got the message: loose talk about war or nukes could be disastrous for India. This was reinforced by another new lobby: the information technology ministers who now exist in every Indian state to drum up business. Friedman's column concludes: "In the meantime, this cease-fire is brought to you by G.E. -- and all its friends here in Bangalore."

Sculptors Abstain From Drinking Meat to Build a Temple

Posted on 2002/8/11 9:44:02 ( 1011 reads )

A HREF="http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/Mei/22.5/leisure1.htm"GO TO SOURCE/A/P

BANGALORE, INDIA, May 22, 2002: While HPI usually abstains from reporting on its own Kauai home, others are doing so at an unusual pace these days. This report is just one of several recent ones. It states that more than 80 sculptors in India have given up smoking, drinking and eating meat while they carve exquisite designs on granite pillars destined for a Hindu temple on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The San Marga Iraivan Temple, dedicated to Lord Siva, is being funded by a US-based Hindu organization, Saiva Siddhanta Church. Most of the sculptors are from the state of Tamil Nadu, famous for its ancient temples, and they have vowed not to touch alcohol, cigarettes or meat while they work on the pillars in Madanayakanahalli village, in the state of Karnataka. One of the workers, V. Chelliah, a stone carver with 13 years of experience, said he hoped to be able to go to Kauai one day to see the finished temple. "I have worked in other temple projects but the amount of divinity involved in this temple was quite clear from day one," said Chelliah, wearing a religious red thread around his wrist. "I used to eat meat earlier, now I have become a full-time vegetarian," he said. The US$16 million dollar project, conceived by late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami was initiated a decade ago when a trust was formed to build a 11-acre village in Madanayakanahalli to house the stone carvers and their families. "This is the first hand-carved temple to be built outside India," said Jiva Rajasankara, coordinator of the project in Bangalore, the state capital of Karnataka, 12 miles from the village."All the pillars and beam stones and capstone, everything, will be carved by hand." Rajasankara said 75% of carvings of the pillars, entrance towers, capstone and floor stones was completed. But he said only 10% of the sculpted stone had been shipped to Hawaii because of a lack of funds. "There are about 250 more containers each costing $7,000 waiting to be shipped. Fund raising is a massive effort," he said. Hindu devotees in 45 countries were working to raise funds for the project including Australia, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States, he said. "Eight million dollars to be collected from various devotees will be saved in an endowment for future repairs and renovations and the aim is to build it with no loans or debts," Rajasankara said.

Kauai's Hindu Temple Project on India TV!

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:49:02 ( 1151 reads )

Source: Hindu Press International

KAUAI, HAWAII, August 10, 2002: An important TV documentary on the Iraivan Temple carving site in Bangalore is to be shown in India, and we urge you to watch, and to tell others as well. Called "India's Gift to the West," the massive all-stone granite temple is being carved in Bangalore and shipped to Hawaii where it is now being assembled. It is the first all-stone Hindu temple ever to be built in the West, and one of the few all-stone temples built anywhere in the last century. The Hindi show is being broadcast August 11, Sunday and 10:30 pm and repeated on Monday. The program is Desh Ravivaar on the Aaj Tak channel.

Kerala Government Plans Austere Onam Celebrations

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:48:02 ( 1007 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, August 4, 2002: The July 27 Kumarakom boat tragedy in which 29 people were killed has resulted in Kerala Chief Minister A .K. Antony announcing that this year's Onam celebrations -- August 18-24 -- would be simple and without the usual revelry. The pageantry that takes place on the main street of capital Thiruvananthapuram in a grand finale for Onam, a festival celebrated by all Malayalis irrespective of caste, creed or religion, has been cancelled. Another decision to see that the 50th Nehru Boat Race at Alappuzha takes place but without any of the grandiose celebrations may further dampen the festivities for Onam, in which August 20, 21 and 22 are important days. Antony said it had been decided that Onam would also be a low-key affair with very little illumination in the view of the looming power crisis, as "Kerala is in a serious spot as far as electricity generation is concerned," said Antony.

Yoga Fans Find Peace in Chants

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:47:02 ( 1071 reads )

Source: The Toronto Star

TORONTO, CANADA, June 29, 2002: At a recent event at the popular downtown yoga studio Downward Dog, local musicians performed their unique blend of ancient Sanskrit prayers and modern Western music to a small crowd of yoga enthusiasts who sat cross-legged on the floor singing along in the ancient Hindu call-and-response tradition. While most Westerners know yoga to be the form of deep stretches known as asanas, or poses, as an aspect of Hindu religious tradition, it also encompasses other forms of practice, including chanting. As yoga has become popular among active people looking for a more deeply satisfying form of exercise, so is chanting slowly becoming a bit of a trend among those looking for a more satisfying way of experiencing music. Over the last two years at Downward Dog, music has gradually been creeping into yoga classes and workshops. Other yoga studios are also getting into the act. "It's just the local extension of a North American trend toward the more spiritual aspects of yoga," says Clea McDougall, the editor of the Montreal-based yoga magazine Ascent. "The first things we picked up on in North America were the physical forms of yoga, and that's been steadily gaining in popularity," she says. "Now people are sort of interested in the things that surround yoga, and music is one of the main things."

Tirupati Temple Plans to Auction Tonsured Pilgrim's Hair

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:46:02 ( 1074 reads )

Source: South China Morning Post

INDIA, July 27, 2002: One of the country's richest and oldest Hindu temples is planning a global hair tender in a move to cut out middlemen and get the best price for thousands of pounds of shorn locks donated daily by devotees. Authorities from the Tirupati temple, in Andhra Pradesh, said notices would be published in newspapers abroad, including Hong Kong, inviting international bids for tons of hair used by wig makers. This year, the temple has already earned several million dollars after selling over 450,000 lbs of hair to middlemen, who are regular suppliers to the booming business of false hairpieces in India and abroad. The hair offered to Lord Venkateswara by millions of pilgrims as penance or for fulfilling their prayers is exported to wig makers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the U.S. and Western Europe. The hair brings in huge profits and also makes a tidy sum for the middlemen. "We have been at the mercy of middlemen for far too long and now we have decided to eliminate them for good," Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams executive officer P. Krishnaaiah said. "Henceforth, we will float global tenders to get the best prices for the commodity in the international market." The hilltop Tirupati temple attracts 10 million devotees annually. Up to 1,200 temple barbers working around the clock shave the heads of about 15,000 pilgrims every day.

Paris Readies for Annual Ganesha Chariot Festival

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:45:02 ( 949 reads )


PARIS, FRANCE, August 10, 2002: The Annual Chariot Festival of Sri Manika Vinayakar Alayam, will be held for the seventh year in succession on September 8, 2002, under the able guidance of the founder & president. The chariot festival, an ancient Hindu tradition followed through the ages in their motherland, has not been forgotten by the thousands of Hindus living in Europe and quite rightly chosen to celebrate this event in the most prestigious and flamboyant French capital of Paris. It is expected to attract well over ten thousand devotees from all over Europe. Saffron water will be sprayed before the chariot right through the whole journey and devotees and accompanied the chariot barefooted. As in the past, the ceremony will be officiated by three or five leading priests (Kurukkal) commencing at 9:00 am and the procession then goes through the 18th and 10th ward of Paris and terminates its journey around 3;00 pm. ''Kavadis'' take pride of place by leading the procession followed by the ''Nagaswaram & Drummers,'' and trailing the chariot will be mainly the women devotees carrying camphor pots on their heads and singing devotional songs. All are welcome to participate in this happy event, thus fostering and creating an atmosphere of cordiality and friendship among the various communities.

Amarnath Yatra Attack Results in Nine Deaths

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:49:02 ( 1102 reads )

Hindu Sect Strives Toward Inner Peace

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:48:02 ( 1022 reads )

Source: The St. Petersburg Times

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, June 29, 2002: In the classrooms of a small Episcopal church here, children are learning a philosophy that emphasizes respect for others, the virtue of looking beyond appearances and the importance of expressing gratitude to God. These children are not Episcopalian. They are Hindu, and are members of the Swadhyaya movement, a sect little more than 50 years old. On Sunday mornings, while their Christian hosts worship nearby, Hindus chant and study in adjacent buildings at St. Bede's Episcopal Church. It is relatively common in the US for liberal Christian churches to provide facilities to Hindu groups until they are able to build their own temples and meeting places. Shastri Athavale, founder of the Swadhyaya movement, was born in 1920 in a village near Bombay, India. He is known to his devotees as Dadaji, which means "elder brother." Athavale teaches that those who believe God is in others are able to develop a loving relationship with everyone around them. The benefit of their philosophy, Swadhyayees believe, is that social ills such as crime, prejudice and poverty are naturally reduced. Followers say that more than 20-million people, mostly in India, have been transformed by their spiritual leader's principles. The St. Petersburg Swadhyayees, one of 350 groups in the United States, have met since the late 1980's.

Public Appeals to Government to Ban Animal Sacrifice in Temples

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:47:02 ( 970 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, July 27, 2002: Despite strict government regulations and a public interest petition appealing to the government to put a stop to animal and bird sacrifice, it stills continues at some temples in the state. However, a recent order by the Madras High Court to the Home Secretary and the DGP to enforce the Tamil Nadu Animals and Birds Sacrifice Prohibition Act 1957, in all temples in Tamil Nadu, may curb the practice. To date, the DGP has not initiated any action against violators of the act. Mr. A V Krishna Moosad of Trivandrums says, "I am praying for an interim injunction restraining the authorities from permitting or giving license to persons intending to give animal or bird sacrifice in temples in violation of these provisions."

What is Sanskrit's Status Today?

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:46:02 ( 1129 reads )

Source: Hindu Press International

MUMBAI, INDIA, August 5, 2002: A recent BBC report by their correspondent, Sanjeev Srivastava, begins, "One of the oldest languages in the world, Sanskrit, is in danger of becoming extinct in India, the country of its origin. Although most Indian languages still use the basic grammar of Sanskrit, no more than a few thousand people in a country of more than one billion can claim to read, write and speak it fluently." The article goes on to say that Mumbai's Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has few students for its Sanskrit courses, and that those students face poor job prospects upon graduation. The BBC article states that Sanskrit "lacks relevance," although it fails to mention that the Hindu scriptures are in Sanskrit or that Hindu temple worship is conducted in the language. The article states, "There is a school of thought which believes that teaching and learning Sanskrit is a complete waste of time and resources, especially as most Sanskrit colleges are publicly funded." HPI recalls the origin of this school of thought: the 1835 document entitled "Macaulay's Minute on Indian Education," in which Lord Macaulay argued successfully to curtail British government funding of Sanskrit colleges because "What we spend on the ... Sanskirt colleges is ... a dead loss to the cause of truth." Macaulay added that it would be wrong for the government to "encourage the study of a literature admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only because that literature inculcates the most serious errors on the most important subjects." But modern scholars worldwide find great value in Sanskirt. Click here to view a list of 53 major colleges and universities in the world which have departments of Sanskrit or offer courses in it. They include the great universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Leiden, Oslo, Kyoto (which has a large department), and more. Germany has more universities teaching Sanskrit, 14, than India itself, ten, at least according to this list. The BBC article shows the continued impact of Macaulay's plan set forth 167 years ago to, "form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern [in India]; a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect." And toward this end, Macaulay argued that ridding India of its great institutions of Sanskrit learning would be a significant step. As a result of his Minute, the British rulers closed all Sanskrit colleges in India except at Banaras. Hindus should not let the same thinking pervail today, rather, India should lead the world in the study of Sanskrit.

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