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Gujarat Chariot Festival Finishes Without Incident

Posted on 2002/7/13 9:48:02 ( 1034 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, JULY 12, 2002: The Jagannath Rath Yatra, an annual religious event in which a chariot is drawn for eight miles through the streets of Ahmedabad, has been conducted peacefully, despite fears that it might trigger a resurgence of religious violence that erupted there earlier this year. Thousands of troops and police had taken up positions along the route in case of trouble. Senior police officer, Satish Sharma, said police in Ahmedabad had recovered a large cache of weapons on the route of the procession, including rocket launchers and hand grenades, allegedly stockpiled by a Muslim man whose son was killed in the riots. However, the hard work had paid off and there were no reports of clashes, he said. Local Hindu officials also scaled down the march into order to avoid tensions with the city's Muslim community. Mahendra Jha, coordinator of the Jagannath Temple, reported only 35 trucks, instead of the usual 125, and 15 Hindu organizations, instead of the 31 seen in previous years, were taking part. While the procession did pass through some Muslim areas, most of the inhabitants were reported to have left their homes for relief camps, fearing violence.

Iraivan Hindu Temple Featured in India Today

Posted on 2002/7/13 9:47:02 ( 933 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, July 12, 2002: India Today's recent edition carries a fine article on the Iraivan Hindu Temple being built here at Kauai's Hindu Monastery, home of Hinduism Today and Hindu Press International. The hand-carved, white granite, Chola-style ornate temple will be the first all-stone temple in America. The author visited the temple carving site located outside Bangalore. He was very impressed with the extremely well-run operation and exquisite craftsmanship of the temple workers. The temple's architect is Sri Ganapati Sthapati, who built the colossal Saint Tiruvalluvar statue located in the sea at Cape Comorin, the southern tip of India. View the entire article (at the bottom of the page) at "source" above.

Canada Zoo Gives Elephant Steel Tusks

Posted on 2002/7/13 9:46:02 ( 1066 reads )


CALGARY, CANADA July 6, 2002: A 20-year-old elephant called Spike at Calgary Zoo has had his tusks fitted with stainless steel caps. The elephant, had cracked his left tusk while playing with tires. About one third of the tusk broke off and there was a split almost up to the jawline. The Asian elephant would have been in great pain -- possibly even leading to death if the crack widened and got infected. Local organizations and businesses joined in to help the zoo protect Spike. The 31-pound, stainless steel tusk caps were designed using computer generated models at a donated cost estimated at around US$8,450. Vets sedated Spike and the caps were gently hammered onto tusks which had been filed down, and fixed with an adhesive.Though only the left tusk was damaged, his handlers decided both should be capped to keep the 12,000-pound mammal balanced.

Attack Thwarted at Thiruvavaduthurai Aadheenam in Tamil Nadu

Posted on 2002/7/12 9:49:02 ( 2550 reads )

Source: The Hindu

CHENNAI, INDIA, July 9, 2002: Four intruders to Thiruvavaduthurai Aadheenam were surprised by security guards and chased from the premises last night. A pair of gloves and a syringe with a white color liquid were found on the premises. Five persons have now been arrested by police, including a former employee of the 600-year-old aadheenam, a monastery-temple complex. The suspects have told the police that they were instigated by the junior pontiff of the aadheenam, Kasi Viswanatha Swami, to kill the head pontiff, Sivaprakasa Desika Paramacharya Swamigal. The junior pontiff has been admitted to the hospital after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. He denies involvement, but is expected to be arrested shortly.

Religious Leaders Demand Ban on VHP

Posted on 2002/7/12 9:48:02 ( 1063 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, June 25, 2002: Prominent saints and seers in this temple town today demanded a ban on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), saying that the VHP's decision not to abide by the court order on the Ram temple issue would "encourage the cult of religious terrorism." "The VHP's decision is violative of constitutional provisions and such open defiance of the Constitution and courts should not be allowed as it will encourage the cult of religious terrorism," Mahant Yugal Kishore Shastri, convener of a joint meeting of saints, seers and Muslim leaders in Ayodhya, told presspersons after the meeting. The meeting was held at the Hanumangarhi temple and presided over by the head of the Ramanand sect, Jagatguru Ramanandacharya Swami Haryacharya. Swami Haryacharya said there was no place for violence in the name of religion. For more information on this meeting, e-mail Swami Agnivesh at "source" above.

Mantra Helps Cardiac Care

Posted on 2002/7/12 9:47:02 ( 1061 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, July 8, 2002: Dr. Mitchell W. Krucoff, Director, Interventional Device Trials and Ischemia Monitoring Lab, Duke University Medical Center, is in the middle of a project MANTRA, which can change the way cardiologists look at cardiac care. In Bangalore en route to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi, he shared some details of his hypothesis that is being tested in the US. "In 1994, we formed the Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA), a project to systematically study the role of spirituality and human interaction in clinical outcomes for patients undergoing cardiac procedures. Noetic therapies include any methods that purport to engage human or divine life force, spirit or energy without the use of a tangible drug," he explains. MANTRA involves subjecting serious cardiac patients to additional therapy with prayer, energy healing, relaxation therapy and imagery, besides conventional treatment. Doctors and institutions in the US are showing interest in Dr. Krucoff's project. "The American College of Cardiology commissioned a consensus paper on spirituality that we were asked to author and the National Institute of Health (of the US government) requested for applications for clinical studies examining the role of prayer and spirituality in clinical outcomes," he says.

1,000-Year-Old Buddhist Monastery in Danger of Collapse

Posted on 2002/7/12 9:46:02 ( 999 reads )


SHIMLA, INDIA, JULY 8, 2002: Just after offering prayers, Sonam Norbu, main lama of the Sonam Norbu monastery, heard a creaking sound which he traced to the cracking of the main beam over the icon of Vairocana, located in the sanctum of the assembly hall. This thousand-year-old monastery in Tabo, located in the tribal Lahaul and Spiti districts of the state and often referred to as the 'Ajanta of the Himalayas,' is now under threat. Damage reports have been sent to the archeological departments in Chandigarh and Delhi although so far no one had arrived to get first-hand information on the damage. The monastery complex, founded in 996 AD, houses nine temples, 23 chortens (reliquaries), monks' chamber and an extension for nuns. This core area is surrounded by an earthen wall enclosing an area of 6,300 square meters. Besides the 40- by 28-foot icon of Vairocana, there are 32 stucco images on brackets along the walls with stylized flaming circles, known as Vajradhatu Mandala. Because of these images the monastery is often referred to as the "Ajanta of the Himalayas".

Sabarimala Needs a Clean-up

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:49:02 ( 1111 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA, INDIA, July 8, 2002: "Only God can prevent the breakout of an epidemic during the pilgrim season in Sabarimala," chairman of Assembly Environment committee, George J. Matthew said here on Monday. The eight-member committee which submitted its report on Sabarimala told reporters, the popular pilgrim centre was facing immense health and environment problems. Matthew said, in the two month pilgrim season, millions of devotees thronged the hill shrine temple, 1,200 ft. above sea level in the Periyar Tiger Project area. "However, the facilities to keep the temple and the route clear have been far from satisfactory, he added. On the role being played by the Devaswom Board (which is the temple administrator), the chairman said, "Surprisingly, the Board has not been able to do much despite the fact that the temple brings massive revenue to the Board and the Kerala government." "The biggest health hazard is the pollution of the holy river, Pampa, which skirts the temple hills. The customary bath by every pilgrim and discharge of sewage make Pampa, one of the most polluted rivers in Kerala. The water sample in Pampa has proved that it contains 1.5 lakh coliforms against the accepted 500," Matthew added. In its report, the committee has suggested a 32-point pilgrim-friendly action plan for the temple. It includes setting up of a satellite township in Nilackal, 10 kilometers away from the temple, ban on plastics, making traffic one-way, providing clean drinking water and economic and hygienic food packets.

Dr. Ambedkar Colloquium on Dharma Held in Canada

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:48:02 ( 1134 reads )


MONTREAL, CANADA, June 8, 2002: A colloquium was held on Saturday, June 8, 2002, at the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada to explore the possibility of employing indigenous dharma as an epistemic category to understand Indic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism) following the lead provided by Dr. Ambedkar. The following persons participated: Mr. Pavittar Singh Bhandari, Pandit Ramnarine Tiwari, Prof Sushil Mittal (Milliken University), Prof. T. S. Rukmani (Chair in Hindu Studies, Concordia University), Prof. Arvind Sharma (McGill University), Mr. Manjit Singh (Sikh Chaplain, McGill University), and Dr. Shrinivas Tilak. There are plans to make this as an annual event to discuss Dr. Ambedkar's contribution to a selected topic in Indology. For more information, e-mail Shrinivas Tilak, coordinator, at "source" above.

Temple Stay May Help People With Mental Disorders

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:47:02 ( 1081 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, July 9, 2002: A short stay in a temple or place of worship can actually improve your mental health, a study has shown. Researchers in India found that a six-week stay at a Hindu temple can produce the same improvement in people with severe psychiatric disorders as a month-long course of standard drugs. According to science journal New Scientist, a team led by Mr. Ramanathan Raguram of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore studied all 31 people who came for help and stayed at the Muthuswamy temple between June and August, 2000. The patients were evaluated by a trained psychiatrist. Six were diagnosed with delusional disorders, 23 with paranoid schizophrenia and two with bipolar disorder. At the end of their stay, their scores on a test called the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale had improved by an average of nearly 20 percent. No specific rituals or ceremonies intended to improve mental health were performed in the temple. The patients attended a simple morning prayer for 15 minutes, and then spent the rest of the day helping out with routine temple work. Mr. Assen Jablensky, an expert on mental disorders at the University of Western Australia, noted that such findings were not specific to India, or any particular faith. For example, he said that a "treatment protocol" in many ways similar to the healing temple of Muthuswamy has been practiced at the traditional therapeutic village of Aro in Nigeria.

India's Billionth Baby Born

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:46:02 ( 1121 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 11, 2002: We missed this one the first time around, but just two months ago, India's billionth citizen entered the world. The government decided that special baby was Ashtha ("faith"), born at Safdarjang Hospital in Delhi, May 11 to Anjana and Ashok Arora in Safdarjang Hospital in the Indian capital at 5:05 a.m. local time. India joins China as the only nations with more than a billion people. The government set up the billionth baby selection as part of a public campaign pressing Indians to have smaller families and rein in the country's spiraling population growth.

What Are the Grant-Giving Institutions for Hinduism?

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:45:02 ( 913 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, July 11, 2002: Hinduism Today requests HPI readers to send to "source" above the names and contact information for foundations or other charitable institutions who might give grants to Hindu institutions for religious-oriented projects. The organizations don't have to be Hindu in nature, but do need to include in their charitable purposes the ability to support a religious effort. For example, a foundation that gives grants to improve education in Hinduism among youth, supports the building of temples, training of priests or aspects of religious music. This request is part of research project by Hinduism Today to compile of list of organizations worldwide that could be approached for grants by Hindu institutions.

Catholic Church in Philippines Apologizes for Sexual Abuse

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:44:02 ( 1090 reads )

Source: CNS News

PHILIPPINES, July 11, 2002: The Roman Catholic Church in Asia's staunchest Catholic country, the Philippines, has apologized for cases of sexual abuse by priests over the past two decades. Following a weekend conference, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said up to 200 priests - of a total of 7,000 - may have been involved in "sexual misconduct" over that period. Some had been dismissed and most had voluntarily left the church. The church is drafting a "protocol" on dealing with future problems, including child abuse, romantic affairs and homosexuality. Offending priests may face rape or child abuse charges. The bishops' statement said, "Forgiveness and apologies must flow into a commitment to be purified and renewed. That is what we resolve to do." An estimated 85 percent of the 76 million people in the Philippines are Catholic. The only other Asian country that is predominantly Catholic is newly independent East Timor. The church has a large following in both Australia and New Zealand, and bishops in both countries have in recent months apologized for sexual misconduct by priests and other representatives. Police in Hong Kong are investigating several abuse complaints involving current or former Catholic priests, some going back almost four decades.

Pune's Women Priests in Demand

Posted on 2002/7/8 9:49:02 ( 915 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, July 7, 2002: As the demand for priests to perform certain rituals has increased, the supply of male priests has dwindled. Often young men do not follow in their father's footsteps and have taken up what they feel to be more lucrative careers. Hence in 1990, an organization call Jnana Prabodhini started training both women and men in the priestly arts. Over 800 people to date have completed the training. After completing a three-month priesthood training class, graduates from JP can perform rituals such as weddings, various pujas, and the rites of passage after death. Another organization called Shankar Seva Samiti has been training women to become priests since 1976. After one year of traditional training, SSS priestesses now numbering 7,000, serve all castes and are from all castes themselves. The two organizations have taken a different approach to their training, SSS a traditional one and JP a modern participatory one. Regardless of their training, women priests are very much in demand. As one patron put it, "They do not take short cuts while performing rituals, explain the meaning and always have time." See also next story.

Women Priests from Jnana Prabodhini Take a Different Approach

Posted on 2002/7/8 9:48:02 ( 1483 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, July 7, 2002: Jnana Prabodhini, a Pune-based organization, has been training women to become priests since 1990. With very little opposition from the public, JP has found that women priests have filled a demand, that priests graduating from their program perform rituals for all classes of people, and that women should have an equal opportunity in the profession. Yashwant Lele, who works for JP, says, "We have modified the rituals to suit the jet age where people have the inclination to perform rituals, but have less time and limited money." Lele points out that the modifications were done after consulting the Lonavla-based Dharmanirnay Mandal. JP priests also perform the last rites and have revived the sacred thread ceremony for girls, to emphasize their importance

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