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British Hindus Seek Symbolic Local Ganges

Posted on 2002/8/27 9:49:02 ( 1012 reads )


BRADFORD, ENGLAND, August 26, 2002: The 6,000-strong local Hindu population is seeking permission from Bradford City Council to turn the River Aire into a "symbolic" Ganges -- India's holiest river, which is believed to wash away sin and release the soul from the body for its heavenward journey. "Many families cannot afford the journey to India,'' said Morani Gupta, chairman of the World Council of Hindus in Yorkshire. "We wanted a site where we can say farewell to our loved ones with grace and dignity.'' The local council is approaching the application to immerse ashes in the river cautiously. "I can assure people that no decision on such an issue would be made without the fullest possible consultation with the local community,'' said Anne Hawkesworth, the council's environment executive.

International Saiva Conference in October

Posted on 2002/8/27 9:48:02 ( 1100 reads )


LONDON, UK, August 19, 2002: The 5th International Saiva Conference will be held in London on October 26 and 27, 2002. The conference is being organized by The Federation of Saiva (Hindu) Temples, UK. Prospective authors are invited to submit papers on Saivism on such subjects areas as: Saints of Saivism, History of Saivism, The Holy Scriptures of Saivism, Importance of Saiva Temples and Saivism in the East and/or the West. Abstracts should be 300-400 words and provide information on the topics which are to be addressed in the final papers. They should be submitted to the Conference Program Committee by August 25, 2002. For a complete list of presentation subjects and deadlines e-mail "source" above.

Bad Economic Outlook Doesn't Dampen Ganesha Celebrations

Posted on 2002/8/27 9:47:02 ( 1078 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 26, 2002: While the money-market may be tight, it's not dampening the spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesha Mandals are gearing up for the festival beginning September 10. "No Mandal (temporary festival temple) has opted out or scaled down its celebrations," says Jayant Salgaonkar, President of All Maharashtra Ganeshotsav Mahamandal. "No doubt the economy is bad but this is a festival which comes just once a year. The celebrations will be held as usual." "Overall, rough estimates of the last few years indicate that the total expenditure in Mumbai on the Ganapati celebrations is about US$10,200,000. In Maharashtra, it is around $40,800,000," says Dahibawkar.

Ganesha Needs Environmentally Friendly Paint

Posted on 2002/8/27 9:46:02 ( 1158 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, August 25, 2002: Come September 10 and most households will celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi. And even as they wait to buy Ganesha idols which have already hit the market shelves, the next step is to immerse them in water bodies in and around the city. However, according to Dr. Venkatesh, director of National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India and professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at St. John's Medical College, if painted Ganesha idols are immersed in water, they will cause an increase in lead levels. This is because most paints used to decorate these idols contains high levels of lead. Water holes in which these idols are immersed get contaminated. Water from these tanks is consumed by cattle and other animals. In turn, by consuming their milk and flesh, harmful lead gets into our system. Devotees should seek out lead-free paint.

Evangelism as Military Assault

Posted on 2002/8/27 9:45:02 ( 1340 reads )


INDIA, February 26, 2000: This article by David Kostinchuk details the plans of Christian evangelists and their assault on India. Kostinchuk begins, "The evangelism of India is done in a model similar to a military model used to invade, occupy, control or subjugate a population of a given country. Intelligence is considered essential to invading a country; language, religion, culture, etc. are some of the variables considered. Division among the given population is considered essential to gain political control once inside the country. Religion can be the key variable to accomplish this. Division of wealth, social status, ethnic diversity, etc. are also variables that influence division of the population of a given country." The article lists several groups and their plans, most funded with foreign money. The Indian Prayer and Fellowship Association has contacted over 16,000 houses. Their goal is to start cell groups, then attach a full gospel group or plant a church if needed. Partners International has the goal of training indigenous people to evangelize others. The Southern Baptists plan to have 4,700 Southern Baptists working with millions of international partners. Their goal is to have 15,000 career missionaries, 50,000 volunteers, and 1,000 Southern Baptist college grads every year. Native missionaries now do 90% of the work in starting churches. These people are more effective in converting people because they understand the language, customs, culture, etc. Many evangelist groups also establish schools, orphanages and medical centers where they carry their message, states this article.

Domestic Violence Shatters Bangalore's Glittery Veneer

Posted on 2002/8/26 9:49:02 ( 1211 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, August 23, 2002: Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley and fastest growing city, was once a safe haven for women. While women are no longer safe on the streets of the city, now they are often not safe within their own homes, too. Domestic harassment is on the rise and 100 women on an average are said to die in Bangalore of unnatural causes every month. Many of these cases are attributed to dowry harassment. The Sampath family is still mourning the death of their daughter. They say she was murdered by her doctor husband and his parents over demands for more dowry. "We got her married on April 20, 2000. She gave birth to a child on January 8, 2001, and January 20, 2002, they murdered her," says her father Ramamurthy Sampath. A well-documented study by Vimochana, a woman's organization in Bangalore, on the number of unnatural deaths of married women between the ages of 18 and 40 in the city, revealed disturbing statistics. The study showed that 786 married women died unnatural deaths in Bangalore in 1999. the number of such deaths was 714 in 2000 and 660 last year. A visit to the burn ward in the city's public hospital shows that in most cases the victims attribute their burn injuries to "stove bursts" while actually in most cases they have simply been set on fire.

Amarnath Yatra Ends: Eleven Pilgrims Killed This Year

Posted on 2002/8/26 9:48:02 ( 1221 reads )

Source: The Hindu

SRINAGAR, INDIA, August 23, 2002: Undeterred by the inclement weather and two deadly militant strikes, over one hundred thousand pilgrims had darshan of the ice Siva Lingam during the month-long Amarnath yatra which concluded with the Chhari Mubarak (holy mace of Lord Siva) reaching the cave shrine of Amarnath in the Kashmir Himalayas today. During the pilgrimage, militants killed 11 devotees and injured several in two separate strikes to disrupt the yatra, which commenced on July 22 amid tight security arrangements.

Temple Idols Desecrated in Jalalabad

Posted on 2002/8/26 9:47:02 ( 1235 reads )

Source: Times of India

MEERUT, INDIA, August 22, 2002: Tension prevailed in Jalalabad on Wednesday as news spread that some unidentified persons desecrated the idols of Lord Siva, Nandi Gai and Hanuman, as well as vandalized the temple's property on Tuesday night. The temple, which is visited by pilgrims from different parts of the country, is located on the bank of the Krishna Nadi (a tributary of Ganga), 35 km from Muzaffarnagar. Angry residents of Jalalabad and its nearby villages blocked the main road in protest against the incident. They said that two similar incidents had occurred in the town in the recent past.

Hindus Detained in Belarus

Posted on 2002/8/26 9:46:02 ( 1460 reads )

Source: Belarusian News Agency, Belapan

MINSK, RUSSIA, August 24, 2002: Twelve members of the unregistered Hindu Siva-Sakti community, the Light of Kailash, held an unauthorized picket between 13:00 and 13:40 on August 17 at the intersection of Frantsysk Skaryna Avenue and Lenin Street and then in October Square in Minsk. They protested against religious oppression, singing mantras (prayers) and holding slogans "No to state Orthodox terror," "Freedom for religious minorities," "Freedom for Hinduism," "Hands off religious minorities" and "Praise Siva and Sakti." As the leader of the Light of Kailash community, Tatstsyana Akadanava, told Belapan in an interview, the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus enshrines freedom of religion. Nevertheless, their community is being subjected to persecution. Thus, on August 13 they tried to hold a religious service in a park in Matusevich Street in Minsk, but the police arrested 19 of their members. For almost 48 hours, 14 of them had been held in the remand centre of the Minsk city executive committee's directorate of the interior. Then a trial took place. Fifteen members of the community were found guilty of holding an unauthorized march and fined a total of $3,000. Tatstsyana Akadanava said that only five traditional religions can develop freely here, while all the others have been labeled sects, including Hinduism. According to her, the community has been trying to register for five years, but has failed. "The main reason for the refusal is that we have no church. But we cannot build a church because we are not registered," the community head said.

Sleuths Discover the Rite Mantra

Posted on 2002/8/25 9:49:02 ( 1174 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 18,2002: The police crime branch has commissioned new weapons for its crime-busters: prayers and vaastu shastra (sacred architecture). As cases pile up and leads are hard to come by, police are going in for shuddhi pujas (purification rites) at various crime branch offices. During the last fortnight, puja was carried out in at least two crime branch offices, Adarsh Nagar and R. K. Puram, to drive out evil influences affecting their work. Apparently it worked. The havan (fire ceremony) at the Adarsh Nagar office was held on July 28 and the first arrest in the complicated Shivani Bhatnagar murder case was made on July 29. "The case was cracked after the Gods accepted our prayers," said an officer. The havan at Crime Branch's R. K. Puram office was held on August 11. Two days later his team hunted down Pitamber, wanted in 25 cases. Tewari, incidentally, changed the vastu of his office a few days ago. Invoking the Gods for professional reasons, though, is no new trend among Delhi's policemen. A senior officer is convinced he was able to solve 29 bomb blast cases while posted with the ISC unit only because of a havan he conducted in his office. And another said he had had 35 havans in the anti-extortion cell during his tenure there, saying, "We solved the diamond merchant kidnapping case, the Bengali Market kidnapping and the Tarun Puri case."

105 Kids Buried for a Minute in Temple Ritual

Posted on 2002/8/25 9:48:02 ( 1247 reads )


MADURAI, INDIA, August 21, 2002: At least 105 children were "buried alive" for one minute in Perayur village, near Madurai, on Wednesday to propitiate two female deities even as a government minister watched. The children -- who were first rendered unconscious -- were sunk into makeshift graves, covered completely, kept there for 60 seconds and then pulled out. Perayur has been following this tradition for years. The Kuzhi Maatru Thiruvizha -- or the festival of the pits -- is observed every five-seven years. All villagers participate in the ritual, burying their children in the hope that their wishes will be granted. Only pre-pubescent girls are chosen for the ritual, while no such condition is imposed in the case of boys. Family members first sprinkle holy ash on the child's head and then spray his or her face with turmeric water, after which the child falls unconscious. The child is then wrapped in a yellow cloth and taken to the burial ground in front of the temple. After the child is buried, his or her parents break a coconut and offer prayers. The entire episode lasts for a minute, after which the priest signals for the pit to be opened. The cloth around the head is unwrapped and the child is taken away by his or her relatives. Kaliraj, former president of the Perayur Town panchayat, says there has never been any mishap in the ceremony, which will be held again in seven years.

Armitage Says Devastation in Jaffna Reminds Him of Vietnam

Posted on 2002/8/25 9:47:02 ( 1354 reads )


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA August 22, 2002: After touring the heartland of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said what he saw reminded him of the devastation of the Vietnam War. Armitage's visit was the first to Sri Lanka by a senior U.S. official since the war began in 1983 and reflects Washington's support for ending one of Asia's longest running conflicts. "I am here to physically demonstrate the U.S. support for this process toward peace," Armitage said after a 30-minute meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the capital, Colombo. The jungle-cloaked Jaffna Peninsula is the center of the 19-year insurgency by Tamil Tiger rebels for a homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority. The fighting has killed more than 64,500 people. He said he was in Sri Lanka at the request of President Bush, who had said he "was moved" by a meeting with Wickremesinghe in Washington last month. The rebels claim the island's 3.2 million Tamils are denied equal opportunity in jobs and education by the Sinhalese, who make up 74 percent of Sri Lanka's 18.6 million people. Armitage did not meet with officials of the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, which is outlawed as a terrorist group in the United States. But he met with moderate Tamil, Muslim and opposition representatives on his return to Colombo. "The international community expects the government and LTTE to move forward in the negotiations toward a permanent settlement ... and keep the country united," Armitage said.

Snakes Get a Breather on Naagpanchami

Posted on 2002/8/25 9:46:02 ( 1206 reads )


MAHARASHTRA, INDIA, August 13, 2002: The age-old tradition of naagpanchami celebrations at Batis Shirala may never quite be the same again. The Mumbai High Court has banned the use of snakes in any procession or competitions. This has angered the villagers, as they are left with no option but to follow the court orders under the supervision of the district administration. Villagers like 57-year-old Dadasao Ghatge, who capture cobras every year, say they have caught snakes this time too because these processions and worships are part of tradition. "For over 700 years, this village has been practicing this ritual. We worship these snakes. We treat them like children in the house and a day after the festival, they are all released," maintained K Y Mullah, Member, Gram Panchayat Batis Shirala, Maharashtra. Animal rights activists argue that their objection to the snake melas is because of the inhuman conditions in which the animals are forced to perform to entertain thousands who pour into the village for naagpanchami.

The Changing Face of Sikkim

Posted on 2002/8/25 9:45:02 ( 1157 reads )


SIKKIM, INDIA, August 22, 2002: In the last ten years Sikkim, a state in NE India sheltered in the Himalayas, has undergone changes. A senior bureaucrat in the Sikkim government says, "Our religio-demographic pattern has undergone such a change in the last decade that Sikkim is no more a land of Hindus and Buddhists." The article says, "In 1975, when Sikkim merged with India there were few Muslims and Christians. Now they account for 14.8% of the population. And even before Sikkim can absorb such a big change, it is being threatened by incursions by Nepalese Maoists from across the western border." Borders of Sikkim are manned by New Delhi's Special Security Bureau. Their task is to keep Maoist rebels out of Sikkim. But it is a thankless task. Most of the rebels look, eat and speak the same language as the Sikkimese and are often related to someone in Sikkim. When Chief Minister Chamling started projects in the field of power, roads, and tourism; trained masons, carpenters, and plumbers have flooded the country. Many of these artisans have stayed in Sikkim. With the influx of trained artisans, Sikkim's backward castes and Lepchas have suffered economically. Many Lepchas, the original inhabitants of the state, have converted under the lure of money to Christianity. A senior leader of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front says, "Sikkim is now being threatened within and outside and it is very important to tackle the triple threat of Maoism, Islamization and Christianization."

Swami Satchidananda Attains Mahasamadhi at 87

Posted on 2002/8/25 9:44:02 ( 1219 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, August 21, 2002: Swami Satchidananda, initiated into the sannyasa (Hindu monasticism) by Swami Sivananda on the banks of the Ganges River, July 10, 1949, died Monday in Madras (Chennai), South India. Swami arrived in America on the crest of a wave of fascination with India in the 1960's, as sitar music, meditation and incense became standard features of college dormitory life. With a gift for irony, a mischievous sense of humor and a disarming way of ending his sentences with a slight "hum," he gave lectures that were part of the fun. Peter Max, the artist of psychedelia, invited him to the United States in 1966, and his disciples included celebrities like the singer-composer Carole King, the jazz musician Paul Winter and the actors Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern. The article goes on to detail the swami's work in America.

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