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South Indians Celebrate Pongal
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:49:02 ( 871 reads )


Source: Shri Rajarathna Bhattar





HOUSTON, TEXAS, January 13, 2001: The festival called variously as Pongal, Makara Sankranthi and Utharayana Punya Kala occurs on January 14 or 15. From the sun's entering Makara rasi, it is called Makara Sankranthi; from the sun's moving northwards, it is named Utharayana; and as the sun is worshipped with sweet rice pongal, it is called Pongal, a day for the worship of Surya (sun). Since agriculture, sun and rain are indispensible, one day is set aside during harvest for the worship of Devendra and celebrated as Bhogi, for according to the shastras, no rain will fall without Indra's command. The next day, thanks are offered to Surya with Pongal made of freshly harvested grain. The third day is Mattu Pongal, when cattle are worshipped with Pongal. On the fourth day called Kanu Pongal, unmarried girls and married women take the blessing of elders and pray for the welfare of the family. Unmarried girls pray to the Almighty in the expectation that in consonance with the Tamil adage, the next month Thai, would see them married.




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Holymen Take Five-Star Tents to Court
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:48:02 ( 822 reads )


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ALLAHABAD, UTTAR PRADESH, January 12, 2001: A luxury tour operator is forced to defend itself in court after it set up next a five-star tent city at the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival site. Irate Hindu sadhus demanded that British travel agent, Cox and Kings, wind up its 74 Swiss-cottage style tents as it went against the true Kumbh spirit. Local official, Mr. Sadakant said the camps were meant to cater to foreign tourists including international celebrities. Reports surfaced that the camp was serving alcohol and meat to its residents -- both taboo at the Mela. Local officials said the holy men's sentiments had to be respected. Organizers ordered the camp be moved using a statute that stated that anything which could affect the sanctity of the religious congregation could be banned. But Cox and Kings said they would fight the order in court, citing misunderstanding of company motives to cater to "spiritual seekers" rather than five-star tourists. The temporary resort has plush tents going for $489 for two nights -- the same as a five-star Delhi hotel. All 74 tents are booked for the entire 42-day duration of the Kumbh Mela.




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Kumbh Mela - A First Hand Account of a Personal Pilgrimage
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:47:02 ( 993 reads )


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ALLAHABAD, INDIA, January 11, 2001: "I was less interested in spiritualism and more in adventure." So recalls Vijay Rana of BBC Hindi Service as he describes his attendance at the great Kumbh Mela two decades ago. Vijay describes the sheer joy of participating in the wave of human bodies drawing each soul towards a sacred dip at the auspicious time in the "Sangam." In this engaging first-hand account, Vijay shares his final mystical moment when leaving Allahabad. "It looked as if a pall of human heads had covered the ground. For the first time I saw the earth and sky not meeting on the horizon. It is an image still imprinted on my mind."




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Monkey Rambo takes no prisoners
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:46:02 ( 873 reads )


Source: South China Morning Post





DELHI, INDIA, December 27, 2001: Authorities in Nirman Bhavan, the huge complex housing the ministries of Health and Urban Development in the Indian capital, have unleashed a specially trained monkey to keep an army of fellow simians at bay. Officials deployed four-year-old Raju to put an end to the monkey business that has been going on for years. The incredibly aggressive Raju, who sent nearly all his cousins packing in less than two months, has earned the nickname Rambo. His keeper, Shyam Kumar, pockets US$108 per month for his services.




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Parsis Community Struggling to Survive
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:45:02 ( 771 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, January 11, 2001: With dwindling numbers in a tight-knit community, the Zoroastrian faith has cause for concern. Most proponents of the religion originating from Iran, discourage conversion and interfaith marriage. As a result, only 125,000 Parsis live world-wide most of them in Bombay. Even though the community has prospered in India through business ventures and as professionals in other parts of the world, these past achievements are secondary. Community elders are primarily concerned with the population decline that in 20 years could leave the faith with as little as 25,000 followers.




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Bible Videos For All Mailboxes In Texas.
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:44:02 ( 810 reads )


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HOUSTON, TEXAS, January 4, 2001: A copy of the "Jesus" video will be placed in every mailbox in Texas. The mailing to 8.4 million homes is the largest ever for the 83-minute film. "We're not out to bug people, we're out to make a difference," Lee Miller, spokesman for the project, told The Dallas Morning News in response to questions about the aggressive and intrusive nature of the project. "People can either choose to look at the video or ignore it." The project is expected to cost $21 million, and $5 million has been raised from 400 churches. Organizers hope 4 million people will convert or return to Christianity after watching the film.




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Primates Used for Testing
Posted on 2001/1/12 22:43:02 ( 716 reads )


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OREGON, USA, January 11, 2001: In an attempt to discover vaccines for the prevention of disease and new medicines to cure an existing illness, scientists at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center have produced a genetically modified monkey. They intend to modify future monkeys to react more as humans do to disease, particularly HIV. With subjects closely related to humans, cures using molecular medicine could be tested and the results documented. Animal welfare groups such as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection are outraged. Spokeswoman for the group, Wendy Higgins, is reported as saying,"The end result is terrible suffering. For scientists to play God with primate genes is morally abhorrent." However Professor Schatten, a researcher at the Oregon Center, claim that monkeys will only be used for research when a cure is imminent for the disease the monkey is carrying. The success with the monkey also demonstrates how close we are to genetically modified humans.




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Budget Cuts For Kasi Viswanath Temple
Posted on 2001/1/11 22:49:02 ( 928 reads )


Source: The Pioneer





BANARAS, INDIA, January 6, 2001: The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led state government surprised Hindus by curtailing the annual budget of the famous Kashi Viswanath Temple. The curtailment may pose many difficulties to the management as the charges of various prayers and rituals may have to be hiked higher. According to sources against the proposal of US$434,782 for the year 2001, the state government has sanctioned only $89,630. Whereas the budget for the temple last year was $402,174. The temple pays more than $2,174 in the form of salaries to it's 40-odd employees every month and monthly expenditure on three officials posted at the temple was around $1,304 per month. Suspicions of corruption may be behind the cuts.




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VHP Cadres to Oppose New Year Celebration
Posted on 2001/1/11 22:48:02 ( 791 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 30, 2000: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has taken up the cause of convincing the masses that the Christian new year is no cause for celebration. VHP senior vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore told News Today: "The Hindu new year falls in Chaitra, the month of April, and that is when it should be celebrated. The VHP contends that Shristi (Earth) was created long before Jesus Christ was born and therefore it is the creation that should be celebrated and not a new year that has been thrust on India by the West. VHP cadres have been given instructions to oppose New Year's Eve celebrations and to educate the masses about the actual or the original Hindu new year. According to Sheshadri Chari, editor of the Organiser, "New Year's Eve, Valentines Day and other such festivals are increasingly being celebrated in India. These are essential platforms for multinationals to sell their wares." Chari maintains such celebrations are adversely influencing Indian culture and traditions and this is the reason the VHP is opposed to it.




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A Curry Pill May Prevent Cancer
Posted on 2001/1/11 22:47:02 ( 916 reads )


Source: Reuters





LONDON, ENGLAND, January 8, 2001: East Indian Amma's will be delighted to hear that a company in London has produced a curry pill whose main constituent is the beloved herb Turmeric.This pill, known as P54 by the company researching its benefits, has been tested on patients with colon cancer. Proven to help prevent bowel cancer, it will be on sale later this year as a food supplement. Or you can just buy the spice.




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Yoga for Healthy Body and Mind
Posted on 2001/1/11 22:46:02 ( 783 reads )


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TAMPA, FLORIDA: The tenth annual conference of "Yoga of Positive Health" was enthusiastically attended by doctors, scholars and practitioners in December, 2000. Collaborating to orchestrate the exchange of knowledge and philosophy were the University of South Florida, the College of Public Health's Center for Positive Health and Swami Vivekananda's Yoga Research Foundation. Highlights included such topics as the "Future of Yoga Therapy," the "Relationship of Yoga to Ayurveda," "Yoga for Cardiac Patients" and the "Gods Within."




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Helping Sindhi Research
Posted on 2001/1/11 22:45:02 ( 896 reads )


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After the partition of India in 1947, Sindhis from Pakistan immigrated to many countries of the world. If you have any information about this migration first or second-hand, it may be used for a new book called "Sindhi Jottings" or as reference material in the archives of India. Contact: hiroshroff@hotmail.com




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Shree Maa Ji On Tour To Spread Gospel Of Effective Prayer.
Posted on 2001/1/11 22:44:02 ( 725 reads )


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Inspiring devotees and instilling in them, the ideology that every home is a temple, along with the meaning of and method of effective prayer has been the basis of the teachings of Shree Maa Ji of the Devi Mandir located in California. Along with Swami Satyananda Saraswati, she will be will be on a joint lecture tour of Europe and the United States this summer of 2001. Her itinerary is at http://www.shreemaa.org.




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British Hindus Slam Coverage of Kumbh Mela
Posted on 2001/1/10 22:49:02 ( 793 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, January 11, 2001: Hindus in the United Kingdom slammed a London television channel's reportage of the Maha Kumbh as distorted and inappropriate. Footage included shots of naked ascetics performing acts of penance on the banks of the Ganges in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHT), which represents 600,000 Hindus and more than 140 temples in Britain, has reacted to last weekend's one-hour documentary of the Mela. A letter was being sent by NCHT to Channel 4 protesting the focus on bizarre practices which were not representative of the principles and tenets of mainstream Hinduism. "It's like depicting Christianity through the Inquisition," the NCHT declared. "That's not Christianity and what they're showing is not Hinduism." The NCHT says it does not deny the practices depicted in the television footage, but repeats this is not mainstream Hinduism, which has not been covered and deserves a proper hearing. "No explanation was given about what the Kumbh Mela is all about." A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said the footage broadcast was not representative of the overall coverage that would continue until the end of January. "What has been seen is a small part of what we are broadcasting," she told IANS. "All that people have seen is 58 minutes out of an entire month's programming. It's difficult to represent the Kumbh in that period of time."




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Maha Kumbh Militant Threat
Posted on 2001/1/10 22:48:02 ( 815 reads )


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ALLAHABAD, INDIA, January 11, 2001: Over 2,500,000 devotees and reports of a possible militant strike kept the police and mela authorities on their toes on the first day of the Maha Kumbh. The paush purnima snan (bath at full moon) at the Sangam attracted a record gathering of devotees, giving the police cause to worry over the scope of arrangements to be made for the two biggest bathing days yet to come. Tuesday's crowds were almost double the official estimates before the Mela began. Intelligence sources said they had received information about a possible subversive strike during the Kumbh. The Uttar Pradesh police officially denied any new threat, but stepped up their security to face any eventuality. A report from Lucknow said Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for a recent Army camp strike, had planned similar attacks at the Maha Kumbh. Allahabad has increased the number of police covering the event from 15,000 to 20,000 in the last two days. The force will be backed by 150 river patrol officers, 20 specially trained commandos and 10 Army teams specializing in anti-mine operations. Bomb disposal squads are also stationed at the mela complex.




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