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Tirupati Temple Plans to Auction Tonsured Pilgrim's Hair

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:46:02 ( 1235 reads )

Source: South China Morning Post

INDIA, July 27, 2002: One of the country's richest and oldest Hindu temples is planning a global hair tender in a move to cut out middlemen and get the best price for thousands of pounds of shorn locks donated daily by devotees. Authorities from the Tirupati temple, in Andhra Pradesh, said notices would be published in newspapers abroad, including Hong Kong, inviting international bids for tons of hair used by wig makers. This year, the temple has already earned several million dollars after selling over 450,000 lbs of hair to middlemen, who are regular suppliers to the booming business of false hairpieces in India and abroad. The hair offered to Lord Venkateswara by millions of pilgrims as penance or for fulfilling their prayers is exported to wig makers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the U.S. and Western Europe. The hair brings in huge profits and also makes a tidy sum for the middlemen. "We have been at the mercy of middlemen for far too long and now we have decided to eliminate them for good," Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams executive officer P. Krishnaaiah said. "Henceforth, we will float global tenders to get the best prices for the commodity in the international market." The hilltop Tirupati temple attracts 10 million devotees annually. Up to 1,200 temple barbers working around the clock shave the heads of about 15,000 pilgrims every day.

Paris Readies for Annual Ganesha Chariot Festival

Posted on 2002/8/10 9:45:02 ( 1110 reads )


PARIS, FRANCE, August 10, 2002: The Annual Chariot Festival of Sri Manika Vinayakar Alayam, will be held for the seventh year in succession on September 8, 2002, under the able guidance of the founder & president. The chariot festival, an ancient Hindu tradition followed through the ages in their motherland, has not been forgotten by the thousands of Hindus living in Europe and quite rightly chosen to celebrate this event in the most prestigious and flamboyant French capital of Paris. It is expected to attract well over ten thousand devotees from all over Europe. Saffron water will be sprayed before the chariot right through the whole journey and devotees and accompanied the chariot barefooted. As in the past, the ceremony will be officiated by three or five leading priests (Kurukkal) commencing at 9:00 am and the procession then goes through the 18th and 10th ward of Paris and terminates its journey around 3;00 pm. ''Kavadis'' take pride of place by leading the procession followed by the ''Nagaswaram & Drummers,'' and trailing the chariot will be mainly the women devotees carrying camphor pots on their heads and singing devotional songs. All are welcome to participate in this happy event, thus fostering and creating an atmosphere of cordiality and friendship among the various communities.

Amarnath Yatra Attack Results in Nine Deaths

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:49:02 ( 1259 reads )

Hindu Sect Strives Toward Inner Peace

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:48:02 ( 1185 reads )

Source: The St. Petersburg Times

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, June 29, 2002: In the classrooms of a small Episcopal church here, children are learning a philosophy that emphasizes respect for others, the virtue of looking beyond appearances and the importance of expressing gratitude to God. These children are not Episcopalian. They are Hindu, and are members of the Swadhyaya movement, a sect little more than 50 years old. On Sunday mornings, while their Christian hosts worship nearby, Hindus chant and study in adjacent buildings at St. Bede's Episcopal Church. It is relatively common in the US for liberal Christian churches to provide facilities to Hindu groups until they are able to build their own temples and meeting places. Shastri Athavale, founder of the Swadhyaya movement, was born in 1920 in a village near Bombay, India. He is known to his devotees as Dadaji, which means "elder brother." Athavale teaches that those who believe God is in others are able to develop a loving relationship with everyone around them. The benefit of their philosophy, Swadhyayees believe, is that social ills such as crime, prejudice and poverty are naturally reduced. Followers say that more than 20-million people, mostly in India, have been transformed by their spiritual leader's principles. The St. Petersburg Swadhyayees, one of 350 groups in the United States, have met since the late 1980's.

Public Appeals to Government to Ban Animal Sacrifice in Temples

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:47:02 ( 1120 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, July 27, 2002: Despite strict government regulations and a public interest petition appealing to the government to put a stop to animal and bird sacrifice, it stills continues at some temples in the state. However, a recent order by the Madras High Court to the Home Secretary and the DGP to enforce the Tamil Nadu Animals and Birds Sacrifice Prohibition Act 1957, in all temples in Tamil Nadu, may curb the practice. To date, the DGP has not initiated any action against violators of the act. Mr. A V Krishna Moosad of Trivandrums says, "I am praying for an interim injunction restraining the authorities from permitting or giving license to persons intending to give animal or bird sacrifice in temples in violation of these provisions."

What is Sanskrit's Status Today?

Posted on 2002/8/9 9:46:02 ( 1299 reads )

Source: Hindu Press International

MUMBAI, INDIA, August 5, 2002: A recent BBC report by their correspondent, Sanjeev Srivastava, begins, "One of the oldest languages in the world, Sanskrit, is in danger of becoming extinct in India, the country of its origin. Although most Indian languages still use the basic grammar of Sanskrit, no more than a few thousand people in a country of more than one billion can claim to read, write and speak it fluently." The article goes on to say that Mumbai's Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has few students for its Sanskrit courses, and that those students face poor job prospects upon graduation. The BBC article states that Sanskrit "lacks relevance," although it fails to mention that the Hindu scriptures are in Sanskrit or that Hindu temple worship is conducted in the language. The article states, "There is a school of thought which believes that teaching and learning Sanskrit is a complete waste of time and resources, especially as most Sanskrit colleges are publicly funded." HPI recalls the origin of this school of thought: the 1835 document entitled "Macaulay's Minute on Indian Education," in which Lord Macaulay argued successfully to curtail British government funding of Sanskrit colleges because "What we spend on the ... Sanskirt colleges is ... a dead loss to the cause of truth." Macaulay added that it would be wrong for the government to "encourage the study of a literature admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only because that literature inculcates the most serious errors on the most important subjects." But modern scholars worldwide find great value in Sanskirt. Click here to view a list of 53 major colleges and universities in the world which have departments of Sanskrit or offer courses in it. They include the great universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Leiden, Oslo, Kyoto (which has a large department), and more. Germany has more universities teaching Sanskrit, 14, than India itself, ten, at least according to this list. The BBC article shows the continued impact of Macaulay's plan set forth 167 years ago to, "form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern [in India]; a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect." And toward this end, Macaulay argued that ridding India of its great institutions of Sanskrit learning would be a significant step. As a result of his Minute, the British rulers closed all Sanskrit colleges in India except at Banaras. Hindus should not let the same thinking pervail today, rather, India should lead the world in the study of Sanskrit.

Support Grows for Scrapping Britain's Blasphemy Law

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:49:02 ( 1153 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

LONDON, ENGLAND, August 6, 2002: Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England have announced their support for scrapping the English law against blasphemy and replacing it with a more generalized law against incitement to religious hatred. The present blasphemy law only covers material denying the truth of Christianity, the Bible or the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer. Because it does not apply to non-Christian religions, for example, an effort in 1991 to bring Salman Rushdie's controversial novel "The Satanic Verses" before the courts as a blasphemy to Islam failed. Prosecutions under the current law have been rare. In 1922 a publisher was successfully prosecuted for publishing a pamphlet comparing Jesus' entry into Jerusalem with "a circus clown on a donkey." Since then, the only other prosecution was in 1977 when the editor and publisher of Gay News were successfully prosecuted for publishing a poem suggesting Jesus had been an active homosexual. On appeal, the blasphemy convictions were upheld but the jail sentence was lifted. A committee of the House of Lords is currently considering whether the law should be replaced by a new statute aimed at making "incitement to religious hatred" illegal. The same law, part of English Common Law, is in effect in Trinidad, and possibly other former British colonies, and protects only Christianity.

Standing Saint Propagates World Peace

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:48:02 ( 1088 reads )


BHOPAL, INDIA, July 31, 2002: Sant Ram Kishore Das Khade Shree Maharaj has never in the past nine years sat or lied down. Originally from Nepal, the 73-year-old saint has pledged to remain standing for at least 14 years for world peace. Sant Ram feels he can remain standing for more than 14 years or even through his entire life. He began his present sadhana, discipline, in Mehsana, Gujarat, in 1993. "The first two years had been excruciatingly tough with my feet swelling up with pain and itching," he said adding, "I keep standing on either foot alternatively through the day and night. And to rest, I place my hands on a swing-like contraption or lean on a pole behind me. The swing also serves as support to sleep." He prefers walking taking rest midway by supporting himself on tree branches on roadsides. Sant Ram annual calendar also includes other pledges like to not speak for five months in a year when he meditates indoors for 22 hours and meets people only for two hours.

Gujarat Prays to Lord Indra to Revive Monsoon

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:47:02 ( 1078 reads )


AHMEDABAD/VADODARA/RAJKOT, INDIA, August 3, 2002: On the first anniversary of the January 26 earthquake, the Narendra Modi government ordered special prayers to appease the dharti mata. Various organizations all over the state are praying for a revival of the monsoon. People are resorting to several methods to solicit divine intervention to avoid a drought. In Vadodara, plans are underway to bathe an elephant, in Rajkot a round-the-clock yagna, fire ceremony, is going on, and in Ahmedabad farmer leaders have given up food in hopes of bringing in the elusive showers. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation's water supply committee and the Satyam Shivam Sundaram Samiti will conduct Parjanya yagna -- a ceremony where an elephant will be bathed with pomp and fanfare -- while a group of brahmins will invoke Lord Indra.

Mayor Appalled by Lack of Hygiene in Temple Area

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:46:02 ( 1117 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, July 26, 2002: Heaps of garbage, overflowing drains and filth all around was what the Mayor, T. Krishna Reddy, got to see in the vicinity of the famous Ujjaini Mahankali temple even as the annual Bonalu festivities commence on Sunday. The Mayor warned of stringent action if the "mess was not cleared up immediately." Though officials maintained that elaborate arrangements were being made for the festivities, what the Mayor saw for himself belied those claims. The MCH Additional Commissioner, R.V. Chandravadan, said additional staff were being deployed to ensure sanitation in the vicinity of all the temples in the area. "The sanitary staff will work round the clock in three shifts during the festivities,'' he said. As many as 24 civil works were taken up at a cost of US$10,277.

NHRC to Study Burden on Schoolkids

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:45:02 ( 1080 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 26, 2002: Should corporal punishment be banned in schools? Is the curriculum too much for schoolchildren to bear? Why should children be deprived of the five-day week which their parents enjoy? National Human Rights Commission chairman, Justice (Retired) J. S. Verma, has decided to interact with school-goers at four regional schools run by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Parents of schoolchildren in the Naraina area of New Delhi filed a petition protesting the long school hours, curriculum load, excessive homework even during vacations and corporal punishment in the name of enforcing discipline. Rajendra Kumar, the Delhi government's Director of Education, said despite a total ban on corporal punishment in the capital region's schools, reports of cruelty on children kept coming in. "Teachers need to be trained, made sensitive and more humane towards the needs of children," he said.

Folk and Tribal Art Preserved at a Privately-Owned Museum

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:44:02 ( 1292 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 31, 2002: Precious folk and tribal art from the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh is being preserved and cared for at the House of Folk Art. Originally started by K. C. Aryan, well-known art historian, sculptor and art painter, the museum is now cared for by Mr. Aryan's son and daughter. According to the article, the museum houses a priceless range of folk bronze metal images, precious embroideries, tribal wooden sculptors, folk paintings, playing cards (Ganjifas), manuscript covers, play toys, and potteries in Indus Valley traditions. B. N. Aryan, son of the late K. C. Aryan, says, "My father was concerned with the vanishing heritage of the Indian folk art and initiated to preserve it. People were selling folk items to foreigners for the greed of money without realizing the real value of their national heritage. My father sensed it first and started collecting objects from all over India."

Hindu Professor to Discuss Religious Tolerance at Vatican

Posted on 2002/8/6 9:43:02 ( 1128 reads )

Source: The Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, June 8, 2002: Anant Rambachan, professor of religion at St. Olaf College, is one of ten religious experts worldwide invited to the Vatican to discuss religious tolerance. Rambachan wants to find constructive solutions to the world's violence by encouraging the world's major religions to find common ground, common voices and common values. When genuine interreligious dialogue begins to happen, he says, then much of the religious rationale for hatred and violence will end. Seven major religious traditions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and indigenous religions have been invited by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to gather at the Vatican. Rambachan is active in the World Council of Churches. Born in Trinidad, he has been a member of the St. Olaf faculty since 1985. According to its mission statement, "St. Olaf, a four-year college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, provides an education committed to the liberal arts, rooted in the Christian Gospel, and incorporating a global perspective."

New York Times Covers Amarnath Pilgrimage

Posted on 2002/8/5 9:49:02 ( 1173 reads )


KASHMIR, INDIA, August 5, 2002: This long New York Times report begins, "Shouting 'Hail Hail Shiva!' thousands of Hindu pilgrims crowded two narrow dirt tracks high in the Himalayan mountains of the disputed territory of Kashmir. Even though the pilgrimage is purely religious, it has not escaped the conflict in this battered territory. The threat of attacks by Muslim separatists who are fighting for an independent Kashmir has turned this once obscure pilgrimage into one of the most closely watched rites in ritual-filled India. In the past two years, Muslim militants have killed more than 40 Hindu pilgrims in attacks on the procession. This year, the Indian government has deployed thousands of policemen and soldiers to protect them."

Four Religions Plan for Multi-Faith School

Posted on 2002/8/5 9:48:02 ( 1129 reads )

Source: The Guardian (London)

LONDON, ENGLAND, July 8, 2002: The Church of England has thrown its weight behind an extraordinary proposal to unite Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Hindu children in the country's first multi-faith secondary school. The plans, backed by leading figures from all four of Britain's main religious groups, are aimed at transforming the image of faith-based education which has been criticized in the wake of last summer's race riots. They hope that the 1,000-pupil school planned for the London borough of Westminster will be the first of a series of similar ventures around the country. Few of the day-to-day details have yet been finalized, but the school's promoters are determined that children from the separate religious traditions will learn, eat and play side by side, although there will be some compromise over religious education and collective worship. Muslim and Hindu parents have long been keen to enroll their children at Anglican schools where they feel religion is taken seriously. A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "It's encouraging to see different faiths working together."

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