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Reclaiming the Real Hinduism

Posted on 2002/9/3 9:47:02 ( 999 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, August 17, 2002: This opinion piece by Vijay Rana reads in part, "The first time I was forced to declare myself as a devout Hindu was when I approached one of the finest schools in London for the admission of my daughter. The priest lectured me on the advantages of regular temple visits. He reluctantly signed the form the school required on my religious practice, putting a tick in the last category of occasional visitors. That day a vital part of my Hinduism was taken away from me -- my freedom to be a Hindu without going to the temple. Until now I had freedom to pray where I wanted. I had freedom to choose among the numerous Hindu gods. When rampaging mobs, chanting the name of my Lord Rama, kill innocent women and children. I say, "No! That's not the Hinduism I was taught. My Hinduism promised to ensure freedom from fear, not for Hindus alone, but for all living being." The Hinduism I knew was a compassionate creed, a set of values caring for all the living beings, including plants and animals. Gandhi's tolerance was written on his heart. Benevolence, generosity, compassion were the central traits of his mental make up. That was the Hinduism I grew up with. Yes, I would welcome a Rama temple in Ayodhya, a temple of compassion and social harmony. I do not need a temple made with the shilas (bricks) of hatred, a temple that is cemented by communal intolerance. In a democratic, forward-looking, modern, 21st century India the hijacking of Hinduism must not be allowed. Let sane and sensible Hindus speak. Let us reclaim the real Hinduism."

Sex Workers Oppose Derogatory Festival Custom

Posted on 2002/9/3 9:46:02 ( 1048 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

KOLKATA, INDIA, August 28, 2002: While Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas dedicated generous celluloid space to the Bengali tradition of procuring earth from a prostitute's threshold for Goddess Durga's idols, the country's largest body of sex workers has declined to yield to the pre-puja custom this year. For the first time, the conglomerate Durbar Mahila Samanvaya Committee has opposed the age-old tradition, saying it was "disrespectful" for the community. "We are not going to be part of such a tradition which is based on the principle that customers come to us and shed all their sins, and in turn take away earth, signifying piety, from outside our doors. We refuse to be treated as society's dustbins," the DMSC president, Swapna Gain, told Press Trust of India. The decision to spread public awareness against the "derogatory" custom was taken at DMSC's two-day workshop on rights of sex workers that ended last Saturday, she said. Gain, who leads the committee of over 60,000 sex workers across West Bengal, said that the myth portrayed sex workers as the lowest strata of society who were elevated to the mainstream only for a day when sculptors came to their doors for the earth, called "veshyadwar mrittika."

Kolkata to Impose Fines for Littering During Festival

Posted on 2002/9/3 9:45:02 ( 1530 reads )

Source: The Telegraph

KOLKATA, INDIA, August 29, 2002: The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has embarked on a clean-puja (festival) campaign. Around 500 trash bins will be placed on main thoroughfares for passersby to dump their trash. The conservancy department is investing over $30,000 for the fiberglass bins and the civic authorities mean business. They will make the errant Calcuttan pay for the litter, if they bypass the bins. According to CMC estimates, city roads and pavements are littered with about 100 tons of trash every day, with substantially more on puja days.

Mumbai Temple Enforces Dress Code

Posted on 2002/9/3 9:44:02 ( 2589 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA July 18, 2002: The next time you visit the Siddhivinayak (Ganesha) temple, Prabhadevi, and the temple guard finds your dress inappropriate for the holy environs, you could be given a lesson in modest dressing and the temple guard will advise you not to wear such clothes the next time you visit there. A guard says, "Many of them could be first-time visitors unaware of the rules. We do not stop them from entering, but we tell them gently not to wear such dresses the next time they are here." The temple administration has put up a board of requests in Marathi at one of the gates. The temple, consecrated in 1801, is the city's most popular, with over two hundred thousand devotees on Tuesdays. Lately, it has also become popular with the young, especially college students who seek Ganesha's blessings for success in exams. Commenting on the restrictions on clothing, Hegde says, "This is a temple, not a picnic spot." Sharayu Thakur, chairperson of the managing committee, says that most devotees of Siddhivinayak support the dress code. Goregaon resident Aparna Joshi says, "This is a sacred place. The authorities have done right by issuing instructions on dress. Limits of decency must be maintained."

Merrymaking Marks Lord Krishna's Birthday in Maharashtra

Posted on 2002/9/2 9:49:02 ( 1037 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 31, 2002: In the narrow lanes of Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra, groups of youngsters formed human pyramids and brought down earthen pots brimming with curds and milk on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami on Saturday. Pots, filled with fresh white curds, home-made butter milk, bananas and a coconut were hung several feet above ground level with the help of thick ropes, decorated with green mango leaves and bright orange marigold flowers in various sections of Mumbai. Scores of spectators lined up to view the pot breaking ritual, organized annually to mark Krishna's favorite prank of robbing his favorite dish, home-made curds, by forming a human pyramid to reach the pot hung high up. In various parts of Mumbai, professional groups who had undergone several weeks of training, participated in pot breaking competition with pyramids of six people high made up of dozens on youth.

Mumbai Offers City's First Carnatic Music Degree

Posted on 2002/9/2 9:48:02 ( 1090 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 30, 2002: The Shanmukhananda Sangeet Vidyalaya will offer a University of Mumbai-recognized degree course in the Indian classical Carnatic music as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of its parent body, the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, located in Sion. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Carnatic) to be offered by the Vidyalaya will be the first degree course in Carnatic music offered outside Chennai. The course is part of the sabha's plan to popularize the learning and appreciation of classical music in Mumbai, say members. The Vidyalaya presently offers diploma courses in Carnatic music and teaches instrumental music in the Hindustani style to nearly 730 students. According to members of the sabha, there has been a gradual decline in the popularity of classical music in the city though several organizations have been working hard to change that. "There has been a revival of classical music in South India with more youngsters learning it, but Mumbai has been unaffected. We want to play the role of a catalyst here," said V. Shankar, president of the sabha.

Maneka Gandhi Promotes Animal Rights During Puerto Rico Visit

Posted on 2002/9/2 9:47:02 ( 1088 reads )

Source: San Juan Star

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, August 27, 2002: Member of the Indian Parliament Menaka Gandhi participated in a International Conference on Peace and Development in San Juan,capital city of Puerto Rico during the second week of August. held on the second week of August. Though she raised many eyebrows here by her comment on India's population growth by referring it "fungus growth" she scored a point for her animal welfare movement in India. "Cows have not been sacred in India since the dairy industry took over, "she said, and added "I'd love to make them sacred in our minds." She runs a shelter in India for 2,000 cows and other abandoned or hurt animals. She is also a founder of an animal welfare ministry in India.She claims that she with her supporters went to 590 laboratories to stop what she called "illegal and cruel" testing on rats, dogs, cats and other animals.There is a huge reform movement in India, she claims, stating that no new drugs has been developed by animal testing in the last 55 years in her country. She also said that anyone who kills any living things kills a human being.

UK Minister Bans Yoga Classes In Church Hall

Posted on 2002/9/2 9:46:02 ( 1036 reads )


LONDON, UK, August 27, 2002: An Anglican minister said Tuesday that he has banned yoga classes from his church because he feels the practice is incompatible with Christianity. The Rev. Derek Smith has angered yoga practitioners by barring a weekly yoga class from meeting in the hall of St. Michael's church in Melksham, 100 miles west of London. Smith said that his decision to stop the classes is because of yoga's association with Hinduism. In London a spokesman for Britain's Anglican Church backed the right of clergymen to take a stand against any practices which "do not square with Christian teachings." He said other ministers share the concerns about the spiritual basis of some versions of the exercise regime, since many church halls across the UK accommodate yoga classes. The spokesman added: "Yoga is used as a kind of generic term for exercise and stretching, but there are many different types of yoga. Some have a more spiritual basis as handed down from Eastern religions."

Parallel Hindu Body Created to Build Ayodhya Temple Peacefully

Posted on 2002/9/2 9:45:02 ( 997 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, August 30, 2002: A parallel body of Hindu saints on Thursday resolved to work out an amicable solution to the centuries-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masj dispute in Ayodhya. Drawn from local congregations and a few other north Indian religious centers, these saints met formally for the first time on Thursday under the banner of the Vishwa Dharam Raksha Parishad. "We want to see a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram, but we do not want the foundations of this temple to be laid on violence and communal disharmony," said Baba Dharam Das, who is the caretaker of Ayodhya's oldest temple, Hanuman Garhi. Brahmaswaroop Brahmachari, a prominent Hindu seer from Haridwar, was critical of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. "[The] VHP has only exploited sadhus and played with their religious feelings and sentiments," he said. "I find that Hindus and Muslims enjoy utmost cordial relations in Ayodhya, but communal trouble is fomented by people sitting in New Delhi." Another saint from Haridwar, Hans Das, who is also the general secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti said, "India is not a nation of Hindus alone -- it is a land of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians who have equal right over this soil."

Monkey Trapped in Hanuman Temple Dies

Posted on 2002/9/1 9:49:02 ( 1082 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, September 1, 2002: An earlier story carried in HPI regarding the monkey staying in the Hanuman Temple here being of good health was erroneous. On Saturday the monkey died of starvation after devotees resisted attempts by a team of veterinarians to shift it out for treatment. The monkey, which had strayed into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at Thimmannagaripally was found sitting atop the icon of Lord Hanuman on August 1. Since then, a large number of devotees had been thronging the temple to offer garlands and fruits to the monkey and seek its blessings and forgiveness. The monkey stopped eating after a few days and its health deteriorated. Following the court's intervention, two veterinarians conducted a check-up on the monkey on Friday. But the devotees prevented them from moving him to another place for treatment and a day later the monkey died. The temple committee performed the last rites of the monkey on Saturday evening. Thousands of devotees, who considered the monkey an incarnation of Hanuman, attended the funeral.

Swami Protests Indian Government Support for Meat Production

Posted on 2002/9/1 9:48:02 ( 955 reads )

Source: HPI

VIENNA, AUSTRIA, August 21, 2002: Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, from the International Sri Deep Madhavananda Ashram Fellowship, Vienna, Austria, has voiced his concern to Indian Prime Ministers regarding the Indian government's support of meat production. Swami writes, "It has been brought to our attention by The International Theosophical Order of Service (Sevran, France) that the government of India is currently formulating a policy in support of large scale slaughter of animals and the promotion of meat-eating by Indians, as part of its tenth five-year plan, to boost foreign exchange and encourage economic development." HPI asked Maneka Gandhi, an animal-right activist and former government minister, for her comments. She responded that this was indeed the case. "There is an official plan of the Planning Commission as the Committee for increasing meat export (that) was started at the behest of Shri KC Pant.... The tussle is not between vegetarians and nonvegetarians but between what is good for India or not. Meat export is draining money out of India and each animal killed costs India approximately US$1,224. No meat exporter pays any taxes in India as they have dummy companies abroad that register losses which are transferred to India. Most of them are in court for not paying water or electricity bills. However this policy of increasing exports has been government policy for the last 4 years as you will see from the APEDA (The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) corporation itself. One attempt by me to stop the illegal cutting of meat in government owned slaughterhouses -- as this is strictly forbidden by municipal law -- was notified by APEDA on July 15, 1999. This would have immediately stopped 70% of the meat from being exported. However the notification, after it came out, was withdrawn by the Ministry on the same day at the orders of the Prime Minister's office."

Colorado Classroom Yoga Questioned

Posted on 2002/9/1 9:47:02 ( 1207 reads )

Source: Yahoo.com

ASPEN, COLORADO, August 28, 2002: Plans for a classroom yoga program were put on hold so administrators and parents could decide whether it would bring religion into the school. Some families at Aspen Elementary said the chanting that often accompanies yoga techniques might challenge the constitutional separation of church and state. The program, called Yoga Ed, would use breathing and stretching to help children adjust to the return of classes and to calm rowdy students after recess. School officials plan a meeting to address the parents concerns. "If there is significant number of parents, after gathering information, that are still concerned about it, we don't necessarily have to go forward with it," Principal Barb Pitchford said.

Sanatan Society Encourages a Spiritual Celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi

Posted on 2002/9/1 9:46:02 ( 1035 reads )


September 1, 2002: As Ganesha Chaturthi approaches, devotees are encouraged to check out the web site created by the Sanatan Society. A comprehensive "Campaign for awareness of spiritually correct way of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi" details nine points including the history of Ganesh Chaturthi, the science behind the rituals, interesting facts about Lord Ganesh, and the science behind sculpting murthis. Inspiring pilgrims to worship with intense devotion and faith, the Sanatan Society discourages the often current practices where the festival surrounding Ganesha Chaturthi has turned into a massive social event and an advertising event for some businesses. Loud non-religious music may be played while adults and children ignore the celebration and turn to socializing. In 1894, Lokmanya Tilak started the public celebration of Lord Ganesh by placing an icon of the Lord in Vinchurkar Wada, Maharashtra. A revival in the population was started and the festival took on a highly spiritual significance for many years.

Planned 9/11 Interfaith Observances Prompt Tensions

Posted on 2002/8/29 9:49:02 ( 1049 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

USA, August 29, 2002: As diverse communities across America prepare to solemnly remember the day last year when thousands died and millions cried out to God, yearnings abound to see believers of all types mark the occasion by praying together. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, for instance, in July called on "all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers ... to foster national unity and religious tolerance." Yet while some faith communities adapt easily to interfaith worship, the more theologically conservative ones are feeling torn by an intense dilemma. As Americans, they aspire to demonstrate their country's tolerance of differences. But as believers, they feel compelled to be clear that all paths do not in fact lead to the same God. When that subtle, dual message feels obscured by a public event that mixes prayer and politics, interfaith worship can cause a crisis of integrity. Nowhere has that strain played out more painfully in the past year than for the 2.6 million-member Missouri Synod. After taking part in a highly acclaimed interfaith service at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 23 last year, the Rev. David Benke was suspended indefinitely from his job as president of the church's 45,000-member Atlantic District. A church investigation had found him guilty of "syncretism" and "unionism" because "The signal (sent by his presence there) was: While there may be differences as to how people worship or pray, in the end, all religions pray to the same God." "Joining in prayer with pagan clerics in Yankee Stadium was an offense both to God and to all Christians," said the June 25 report by the Rev. Wallace Schulz. "What's the purpose of an interfaith service?" asked one Baptist minister. "It's to show everybody that we can all get along. But not until everything and everyone is brought together under Jesus Christ, until everyone bows the knee to Christ, will there be a peaceful world. (In the meantime), to use worship as a means of promoting something else is wrong."

VHP Reconversion Drive in West Bengal District

Posted on 2002/8/29 9:48:02 ( 1231 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

WEST BENGAL, INDIA, August 22, 2002: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday brought back to Hinduism one Muslim and six Christian families at a paribartan ("transformation") ceremony in the West Bengal's Malda district. The ceremony, which took place in Bharat Sevashram Sangh's ashram at Tajpur, kicks off a reconversion program planned by the VHP in the adivasi (tribal) belt of the district, claimed senior VHP leaders. The families all filed affidavits before a local Malda court last week swearing that they were converting to Hinduism of their own free will. VHP spokesman Ajoy Kumar Nandi said, "We'll be intensifying our paribartan program to bring back people who were lured into Christianity and Islam." The reconverted families confirmed Nandi's charges. "We were lured into Christianity by offers of food, medicines, education, money and building materials. But the promises did not materialize. We then realized it was wrong to have embraced Christianity, and so we are coming back to our religion,"said Raja Hansda of Srirampur village.

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