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Sabarimala Needs a Clean-up

Posted on 2002/7/11 9:49:02 ( 1161 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 ( 1218 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 ( 1150 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 ( 1172 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 ( 974 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 ( 1152 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 ( 975 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 ( 1581 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

Three Thousand Attend Opening of Hindu Temple in Germany

Posted on 2002/7/8 9:47:02 ( 1054 reads )


HAMM, GERMANY, July 8, 2002: Around 3,000 Hindus on Sunday attended the inauguration of the largest Hindu temple in Europe, at Hamm in northwest Germany, police said. The 700-square-meter Sri Kamadchi Ampal temple took two years to build and cost US$990,000, most of it from donations. The building is built in an architectural style typical of southern India and includes 180 icons and altars, the architect Heinz-Reiner Eihorst said. The inauguration was marked by a party that was expected to continue late into the night. The Hindu priest Siva Sri Paskarakurukkal, who will officiate at the temple, expects around 300 devotees per day to worship there.

Medicinal Use of Cow Urine Receives US patent

Posted on 2002/7/8 9:46:02 ( 1498 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, India, July 3, 2002: Joint research conducted by the Scientists of Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, a Central Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory, and Go-Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra, Nagpur, has resulted in the granting of a US patent for a unique pharmaceutical composition, announced Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi. The research discovered the unique bio-enhancing activity in a specific cow urine distillate, which enhances the anti-microbial effects of antibiotic and anti-fungal agents. Cow urine has been used for its medicinal properties in India since ancient times and has been described as a substance/secretion with innumerable therapeutic values in ''Sushrita Samhita'' and ''Ashtanga Sangrah.'' This contemporary finding is the synergy of Indian traditional wisdom and modern science. The impact of this novel patent will be on reducing the dosage of drugs to get a given therapeutic effect. It will also reduce the cost of treatment and the side-effects due to toxicity, according to the details of the research paper. Joshi also believed the achievement would give impetus to the traditional researchers of the country. Details of the cow urine patent, entitled Pharmaceutical composition containing cow urine distillate and an antibiotic, #6,410,059, are available at the US Patent Office website: www.patft.uspto.gov/

Should We All Be Vegetarians?

Posted on 2002/7/8 9:45:02 ( 1072 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, July 15, 2002: Sporting the ubiquitous hamburger bun overflowing with vegetables, the July 15 issue of Time magazine carries a cover story on the merits of vegetarianism for everyone. For many, meat is an obscene cuisine. It's not just the additives and ailments connected with the consumption of beef, though a dish of hormones, E. coli bacteria or the scary specter of mad-cow disease might be effective enough as an appetite suppressant. It's that more and more Americans, particularly young Americans, have started engaging in a practice that would once have shocked their parents. They are eating their vegetables. Also their grains and sprouts. Some 10 million Americans today consider themselves to be practicing vegetarians, according to a Time poll of 10,000 adults; an additional 20 million have flirted with vegetarianism sometime in their past. Discussing a number of nutritional issues like calcium absorption and vitamin B12 to the ethical argument that vegetarianism is a much more environment-friendly diet than those revolving around meat, this lengthy article provides much food for thought.

Japanese DVD "RG Veda" Not About Our Rig Veda

Posted on 2002/7/8 9:44:02 ( 1100 reads )


TRINIDAD, July 8, 2002: HPI's local contacts here sent in a note that a Japanese-language DVD had appeared entitled "RG Veda." Our correspondent, Anil Mahabir, spoke with a distributor of the DVD who said, "The film is not about anything even remotely resembling Indian culture or Hinduism, although the name "RG Veda" might seem to suggest such." Intrigued, HPI tracked down a website on this DVD ("source" above). There we learned, "RG Veda was created by a group of female Japanese artists and writers who go by the name of CLAMP. RG Veda was one of their first creations, and they are also responsible for X (called X/1999 in the U.S.), Tokyo Babylon, Clover and a few others." The illustrations, apparently made some time ago, are in Japanese "anime," a stylized cartoon, and the plotline summarized on the website does indeed seem to have nothing to do with the Rig Veda. Concerned that Hindus might take offense at the cartoon, the Trinidad distributor, Hafeez Amin of Genesis Foundation (genesis@wow.net) has decided not to feature the DVD as part of their Japanese cartoon festival. He did ask our correspondent, "Should you do the necessary research and deem this movie able to be shown to general audiences in Trinidad & Tobago please do not hesitate to contact us." HPI readers who want to look into the cartoon are welcome to send Hafeez their comments.

Advani Disputes Forensic Report on Godhra

Posted on 2002/7/7 9:49:02 ( 1210 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, July 7, 2002: Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani has rejected a forensic report that contradicts the government's view that a Muslim mob had set a train on fire from outside, killing 58 passengers, in February near here. The contention of Ahmedabad-based Forensic Science Laboratory that the fire, which engulfed two coaches of Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station, was ignited from within them was untenable, Advani told reporters here on Sunday. "How could women, children and other travellers keep inflammable or explosives to take their own lives?" Advani asked during a day's visit here, while rejecting the laboratory's report. "The idea is frivolous." A report on the lab's method is posted at "source" above. The forensic lab parked a similar railroad car at the same place as the one burnt in Godhra. They tossed water at it from the outside, attempting to simulate the throwing of flammable liquid, but not actually causing a fire. The lab believed, for unstated reasons, that at least 60 liters of flammable liquid were required to start the fire, and concluded that such a large amount could not be thrown through the windows. They do not say why their theory contradicts numerous eye-witness accounts of the attack by a mob of Muslims numbering approximately 1,500.

Christian Minister Suspended for Worshipping With Hindu "Pagans" at 9/11 Memorial

Posted on 2002/7/7 9:48:02 ( 1101 reads )


NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, JULY 5, 2002: Lutheran pastor, Rev. David Benke, has been suspended from his duties and ordered to apologize to all Christians for participating with New York's Cardinal Edward M. Egan, other Christian ministers, Sikh and Hindu holy men, imams, rabbis and civic leaders in an interfaith prayer service hosted by Oprah Winfrey in New York's Yankee Stadium after September 11. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which has 2.6 million members and is the 10th-largest church in the United States, has ordered Rev. Benke to apologize or appeal by July 10 or he will automatically be removed from the Missouri Synod's clergy. The ruling against Benke illustrates the growing tension between two major trends in American religion: ecumenical or interfaith efforts, which have been bolstered by President Bush's calls for tolerance since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and back-to-tradition or "renewal" movements, which have taken hold among Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists as well as Lutherans. While the interfaith efforts emphasize common values, the renewal movements emphasize theological differences. The two trends can coexist, but sometimes they conflict, particularly over claims that only adherents of a particular creed will gain salvation and all others face eternal damnation. "By President Benke's joining with other pagan clerics in an interfaith service [no matter what the intent might have been], a crystal clear signal was given...while there may be differences as to how people worship or pray, in the end, all religions pray to the same God," the Rev. Wallace Schulz, the Missouri Synod's national second vice president, wrote in the suspension letter. "To participate with pagans in an interfaith service and, additionally, to give the impression that there might be more than one God, is an extremely serious offense against the God of the Bible," Schulz added. "The principle is, you don't want to do anything that would compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ," said the Rev. David H. Mahsman, editor of the Missouri Synod's newspaper, the Lutheran Witness. "The question is, does participating in an interfaith service after September 11 do that? Benke would say no. In fact, it honors Christ and shows that Lutherans are concerned about the well-being of the entire community. Others would say it placed Christ on an equal footing with Allah and Vishnu and whatever Gods are involved. Supporters of the Rev. David Benke say he will appeal his suspension as a district president -- the equivalent of a bishop.

Bihar and Jharkhand Temples Ban Animal Sacrifice

Posted on 2002/7/7 9:47:02 ( 1166 reads )


BIHAR, INDIA, JULY 4, 2002: Last month a group of Hindu activists from Bihar launched a campaign against animal sacrifice at the famous Lord Baidyanath temple at Deogarh in Jharkhand. It is estimated that about 100 animals are slaughtered at the Deogarh temple each month and the temple management spends about US$2,000 procuring goats for the sacrifices. Following a note sent Monday to the governor from Vice-Chancellor of Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University, Acharya Kishore Kunal, Mithilesh Kumar, Principal Secretary to Pande, sent a letter to the chief secretaries of the two states, saying sacrifice of animals was punishable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Raj Bhavan. Kumar, on behalf the governor, has urged the chief secretaries to find out if animal sacrifice is still going on in some temples and if so, steps be taken to stop it. Nothing is said in this report as to why the ban applies only to animals killed in temples and not to all killing.

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