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Now Swedish Furniture Maker Apologizes for Buddha Toilet Seat

Posted on 2002/4/29 9:46:02 ( 1184 reads )


STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, April 29, 2002: Swedish furniture maker Ikea has apologized for an advertisement showing a glittering toilet seat adorned with a meditating Buddha. The figure, incorrectly identified as the Hindu God Siva, appeared in a section with decoration tips in the latest issue of Ikea Family Magazine, sent to 700,000 households in Sweden. The article, headlined "Make the nicest toilet seat yourself," features a picture of Buddha, with legs crossed and eyes closed, glued on a toilet seat spray-painted in gold. The adjoining text refers to the figure as Siva. Many of the estimated 10,000 Hindus in the Scandinavian country complained and representatives from Hindu groups sent a joint protest letter to the company on Tuesday. Ikea apologized the next day. Protest organizer Shahsi Sharma said he was satisfied with the apology and considered the issue resolved. He added that Ikea conducts a much-appreciated education program to combat the use of child labor in India. Ikea spokesman Tina Paulsson said the company would pay closer attention to pictures with religious and cultural motifs in the future. Two years ago a small business in Seattle attracted Hindu outrage by painting Hindu Deities on toilet seats.

Indra Devi, First Lady of Yoga, Passes On at Age 102

Posted on 2002/4/29 9:45:02 ( 1222 reads )


BUENOS AIRES, April 26, 2002: Russian-born Indra Devi, known to followers as the ''first lady of yoga'' who taught Hollywood how to stretch its limbs in the 1940s, died at 102 yesterday in Argentina, her home for the past 17 years. Born in 1899, Ms. Devi went to India in 1927, drawn by its spirituality, and 10 years later was admitted to an ashram to study a discipline previously almost closed to women. She opened the first US yoga studio in California in 1947 and introduced the ancient Eastern practice, which blends strenuous physical stretches with spiritual balance, to stars like Gloria Swanson and violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Her popular books ''Forever Young,'' ''Forever Healthy,'' ''Yoga for Americans'' and five others are credited with helping spread hatha yoga, which emphasizes the physical exercises popular with stressed-out urbanites all over the world. Her organization, Fundacion Indra Devi, can be reached at mataji@uol.com.ar.

Honolulu School Returns Lord Siva Sculpture to Cambodia

Posted on 2002/4/25 9:49:02 ( 1164 reads )


HONOLULU, April 25, 2002: Two ancient sculptures stolen from a temple in Cambodia during the civil unrest of the 1970s and donated to the Honolulu Academy of Arts are back in their homeland. The 9th century, 15-inch stone head of Lord Siva and a 12th century, 19-inch head of a deva were flown from Honolulu on Tuesday and are expected to be presented during ceremonies Friday in Phnom Penh. After reading an article in a 1996 publication on looting in the Angkor area of Cambodia and extensive research, the academy confirmed that the two sculptures were among those stolen. George Ellis, director of the academy, and a group of about 25 academy officials and members accompanied the artifacts on the Cambodia flight.

UK Opens Doors to Indian Doctors

Posted on 2002/4/25 9:48:02 ( 987 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, April 19, 2002: Thousands of senior resident Indian doctors in Britain could benefit from an initiative launched by the UK government to induct medical specialists directly from India into top, permanent posts in British hospitals. The initiative to recruit doctors working in India directly to UK consultant posts in psychiatry, radiology, cancer and cardiology, will end years of alleged discrimination against Indians, whose training and experience back home has so far been disregarded when they applied for top jobs. The ending of the so-called "ethnic penalty" for Indian doctors, who make up nearly a quarter of Britain's state-funded National Health Service (NHS), comes with the launch earlier this month of the UK's first India recruitment drive for 1,000 consultants. One problem with this plan is that it drains India of skiled people, just as does the UK plan to hire teachers from India.

Racism in Europe

Posted on 2002/4/25 9:47:02 ( 1091 reads )


BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, April 25, 2002: The latest report from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) said that racism was on the increase across the continent. With the surprisingly strong showing of far-right politicians like France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, who will face off in the May 5 presidential polls with incumbent Jacques Chirac, ethnic minorities and immigrants fear they could be in for more difficult times. Apart from violence, threats and intimidation, they charge that racism and discrimination on the continent come in more subtle forms, such as in the labor market and the work place. The Belgian Centre for Equality of Opportunities and the Fight Against Racism said reports of discrimination increased by at least 10 per cent last year, and one-fifth were directed against the public services. But the EUMC does say that there are positive developments taking place in the European Union. It notes that anti-discrimination laws have been introduced and that governments and other agencies have increased efforts to protect minorities and immigrants.

Stay-at-Home Dads Face Health Risks

Posted on 2002/4/25 9:46:02 ( 1056 reads )


ATLANTA, GEORGIA, April 25, 2002: A study being released at a meeting of the American Heart Association found that men who decide to become househusbands and take care of children at home may be putting their health and hearts in danger. In fact, researchers conducting the study in Framingham, Massachusetts, for the National Institutes for Health found men who have been stay-at-home dads most of their adult lives have an 82 percent higher risk of death from heart disease than men who work outside the home. They also found the women in high-powered jobs were also much more prone to heart disease. CNN's Rhonda Rowland, in an April 24 American Heart Association report, says that potential health problems for role reversal parents are indicated.

Request for Toshio Yamanouchi's Books

Posted on 2002/4/25 9:45:02 ( 1147 reads )


USA, April 25, 2002: If anyone knows where to acquire the books by Toshio Yamanouchi and Hindu Gods in Japan, mentioned in HPI on April 22, kindly contact us at "source" above.

Ganges Priests Bless Foundation Stone for UK Temple

Posted on 2002/4/23 9:49:02 ( 1062 reads )


BRADFORD, ENGLAND, April 20, 2002: More than 1,000 people congregated in Bradford for ceremonial prayers at the construction site where a US$4.4 million Hindu temple is to be built. Among the number were priests of the Ganges shrine of Haridwar, who flew to Britain to bless the foundation stone of one of Britain's biggest and most unique temples. A monumental fundraising effort has secured half the total cost of the temple in just one month. Dayal Sharma, president of the Hindu Cultural Society of Bradford, says he is overwhelmed by the extreme generosity of the Hindu community in raising the money. The speed with which the donations were collected was attributed to a rebirth in interest in religion in the area. Mr Sharma said: "We are witnessing youngsters beginning to take a greater part in activities of the temple as well as the Hindu ceremonies and festivals. An increasing number of the Hindu population are reinforcing their faith." The new Leeds Road-based temple, which will house an exhibition center, conference and sporting facilities, is set to be one of the largest in the country when it is completed in 2004.

Christians Target Sikkim Hindus for Conversion

Posted on 2002/4/23 9:48:02 ( 1397 reads )

Source: Francois Gautier

GANGTOK, SIKKIM, April 23, 2002: A special program is being organized in Gangtok, in Northeast India, which is called "Gangtok Prayer Festival 2002." This is being conducted by Dr. Paul Dhinakaran (famous for his "miracle" prayer meetings all over India) and a team from Chennai at Gaurds Ground, Gangtok, from April 26 to 28, 2002. Christians from all around Sikkim are coming as well as others from North Bengal -- Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. Most of the big Christian schools in these areas are involved into it. This will be a show of strength for them. Gangtok is full of banners announcing the program. The Sikkim Government is unable to do much, as many Christian government ministers are involved. Conversions have been happening often this year. Earlier, the North District of Sikkim was targeted in places like Janghu where the Lepcha community lives. But it is happening now in all the districts of Sikkim (West-Sombaria/Soreng, South-Namchi, East-Gangtok). It is especially the Hindus living below the poverty line who are targeted. One such move in Sichey Busty in Gangtok was stopped by the Satya Sai Sammity organization of Gangtok. The Governor, Sri Kedar Nath Sahani, is very concerned about this, as is the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, but nothing much is being done.

Hindu Support Group Forms on Okinawa Base

Posted on 2002/4/23 9:47:02 ( 1251 reads )

Source: Stars and Stripes Magazine

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN, April 13, 2002: Okinawa's small American Hindu population meets twice a week on US military bases to get in touch with their spirituality. Chaturbhuj N. Gidwani helped establish a Hindu study group at Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster after moving to Okinawa, Japan, six months ago. "There are many people in the military with an Indian background. I felt they were missing their cultural heritage," said Gidwani, the chief mechanical engineer for the Marine base's Facilities Engineer Division. Gidwani, a lay religious leader, hopes one day the military will have Hindu chaplains to serve the 3,000 to 4,000 Hindu service members. Gidwani, 64, is a retired sergeant major in the Army reserve. He was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and immigrated to the United States when he was 28. He became a US citizen, and joined the Army Reserve when he was 35, just two months shy of the cut-off date for new recruits. "Back in 1997, the Pentagon agreed to give full support to a program of having Hindu lay leaders organize study groups on military bases," he said. He was instrumental in starting a group at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC, and then, three years later, at Masawa Air Base, Japan. Gidwani said there are about ten Hindu families on Okinawa, but the meetings are not just for those who follow the Hindu faith. "We are not preaching. We are a support group. Perhaps someday the military will have Hindu chaplains. What we are doing is providing support for Indians who are continuing their spiritual journey and sharing our beliefs with others who are interested," said Gidwani.

Singapore Recycles Its Cemeteries

Posted on 2002/4/23 9:46:02 ( 1023 reads )


SINGAPORE, April 20, 2002: L. F. Yong starts digging bodies just after dawn. On an average day, Yong and his team of 20 workers will have cracked open 40 graves and emptied them of their bones by noon. Yong is responsible for the hands-on work behind a government project to clear the Bidadari Cemetery, one of the largest Christian burial plots in Southeast Asia. The project will convert the tranquil resting ground for 58,000 dead into 12,000 centrally located, high-rise apartments for the living. The project is fueled by crowded Singapore's hunger for land. The tiny Southeast Asian island, nestled between Malaysia and Indonesia, covers 650 km and has 4 million residents. Another 68,000 bodies will be exhumed from a neighboring Muslim section and reburied elsewhere. All unclaimed Christian bodies will be cremated by the government and, unless the ashes are claimed within a year, they will be scattered at sea. Since March, 2001, Singapore has published numerous notices about the exhumation in newspapers here and in Australia, England and Malaysia, but only 9,449 bodies have been claimed. The remaining 48,551 bodies will be cremated.

Hindu-Muslim Violence Continues in Gujarat

Posted on 2002/4/22 9:49:02 ( 1022 reads )


AHMADABAD, INDIA, April 22, 2002: Two people were killed Monday in religious strife between Hindus and Muslims in western India, bring to 20 the number of dead in two days of clashes. At least 105 have been injured since Sunday. Several neighborhoods in Ahmadabad, the commercial hub of the state of Gujarat, were under siege Monday as Hindus and Muslims clashed and set homes and businesses on fire. Two Muslim men were killed in Ahmadabad. One was stabbed to death by a Hindu throng and the other died after a mob pelted him with stones, police said. An assistant commissioner of police, Keshav Kumar, said 14 people suffered bullet wounds when police opened fire to disperse a mob in Ahmedabad's old walled city of Shahpur. Those killed Sunday included 10 Muslims in Ahmadabad, when police fired into a swelling crowd on the Hindu festival of Ramnavami, the birthday of the religion's supreme deity, Rama. Eight other people were killed in clashes between the two groups -- including at least three Hindus. At least 91 people were seriously injured Sunday with burns and bullet wounds, police said. The two days of violence raised the death toll from India's worst religious rioting in a decade to 853. Some police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the firing at Muslims was a reaction to the killing of a police officer, who was stabbed by Muslims in the crowd.

A Link Between Hindu Gods and Japan

Posted on 2002/4/22 9:48:02 ( 1116 reads )

Source: Japan Times

TOKYO, JAPAN, April 10, 2002: An exhibition called "Gods Derived From India to Japan" is showing at the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts until May 26. The story behind the showing is a fascinating one. It all started 51 years ago when Toshio Yamanouchi's job took him to India as general manager for an iron importer company. His passion for religious art took him all across the country and in twenty-five years he built up his collection. In northern Uttar Pradesh, he discovered a miniature painting of "Govardhana Krishna." In Madhya Pradesh, he purchased a 18th century three-headed Ganesha made of ivory. A sandalwood Saraswati was found in the NW state of Rajasthan. Yamanouchi's entire collection, which he has donated to the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts, consists of 350 statues, sculptures, reliefs and paintings. Seventy of these pieces are part of the present exhibition. Indian law would now prohibit the export of any historical object more than 100 years old. This law was passed in the early 70's. However, by this time, the collection had already been brought back to Japan. Diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 73, Yamanouchi chose to utilize what he thought might be his final years to write three books about how India and Japan are bound by their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. The article says, "Yamanouchi identifies Benzaiten, the Japanese goddess of good fortune, with Saraswati; Seiten of the Jogan Period with Ganesha; and Enma, the Japanese lord of hell, with his Indian counterpart Yama." Interestingly, Yamanouchi was fascinated with the Hindu gods that he saw during weekly visits to Buddhist temples when he was a young boy. He recalls, "My parents were very religious. I saw many Buddhas at the temples, but I also noticed many Indian Gods protecting the central Buddha figure."

Hindu Society's Plans Thwarted

Posted on 2002/4/22 9:47:02 ( 1023 reads )


HALIFAX, CANADA, April 14, 2002: The Hindu Temple-Vedanta Ashram Society in Halifax is disheartened. Working in conjunction with the Interfaith Council of Halifax, the society had started a program to feed and clothe needy children in Halifax. After purchasing a van in June of 2000 and stocking it with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and clothes, the program called the Mobile Youth Assistance Program, was to be launched this summer. However, the van and its contents were stolen from the temple premises on Sunday, April 14. Vivek Swamy, past chairman of the Vedanta Ashram Society says, "We were storing those things in there and just getting ready to get things on the move. If the van is not returned, that would pretty much spell the end of the program." Small community relations programs such as this have proved very quite successful in integrating Hindu temples in the West with the surrounding community.

Study Promotes Sanskrit Revival in India

Posted on 2002/4/22 9:46:02 ( 1013 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, April 5, 2002: According to this article, Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas, is being neglected in its own motherland. Hema Kshirsagar who has been studying the problems in teaching Sanskrit in schools for the last nine years says, "There is hardly any emphasis on Sanskrit, either from the state education department or the boards." Reaching out to 655 schools with 1,234 Sanskrit teachers in 14 districts of Maharashtra, the nine-year study has found that 90% of teachers are not very familiar with updates to Sanskrit education, that the way the language is taught is boring and tedious, and that the number of students studying the language has declined. As part of the solution, Kshirsagar has recommended that educational agencies offer incentive programs to teachers and students in conjunction with more modern interactive and innovative programs. Kshirsagar further claims that, "Sanskrit is not only rich in different branches of knowledge, including philosophy, literature and various sciences, but it is also a powerful means of national integration besides promoting international understanding."

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