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Himachal Government to Introduce Astrology Course

Posted on 2002/5/23 9:49:02 ( 1095 reads )


SHIMLA, INDIA, May 19, 2002: The Himachal Pradesh government proposes to introduce astrology as a subject in regular classes at various levels of learning, said Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. Introduction of astrology would help preserve the ancient system of knowledge so that the younger generation could know more about India's rich culture and traditions as well as Hinduism, he told a religious congregation. Dhumal added in his address that no religion teaches hatred against humanity and there should not be any restriction on following a particular religion. "Religion should be equated with duty such as son's duty to look after his parents, teachers' duty to guide his students and rulers duty to provide protection to his subjects," he said. Dhumal also spoke on the relevance of the Vedas.

American Megachurches as Minitowns

Posted on 2002/5/23 9:48:02 ( 1248 reads )


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, May 9, 2002: Southeast Christian Church is an example of a new breed of magachurch -- a full-service "24/7" sprawling village, which offers many of the conveniences and trappings of secular life centered around a spiritual core. While unusual for America, it is similar to the temple towns of India, and represents the impulse of humans to live in a spiritual environment. In this American version, it is possible to eat, shop, go to school, bank, work out, scale a rock-climbing wall and pray there, all without leaving the grounds. These churches are no longer simply places to worship, they have become part resort, part mall, part extended family and part town square. In Glendale, Arizona, the 12,000-member Community Church of Joy, which has a school, conference center, bookstore and mortuary on its 187-acre property, has embarked on a $100 million campaign to build a housing development, a hotel, convention center, skate park and water-slide park, transforming itself into what Dr. Walt Kallestad, the senior pastor, calls a "destination center." The churches have even become alternative employers. At the Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston, a McDonald's will open this month. Part of its goal is to provide jobs for young people and create a controlled, protective setting for kids. By making it possible to inhabit the church from morning to night, cradle to grave, these full-service churches can shelter congregants, said Dr. Randall Ballmer, a professor of American religion at Barnard College, from "a broader society that seems unsafe, unpredictable and out of control, underscored by school shootings and terrorism." This lengthy article goes on to discuss the pros and cons of these new communities including tensions between church and state that have arisen.

Book, "Hindu Temples of North America," Released

Posted on 2002/5/23 9:47:02 ( 1190 reads )


WINTER PARK, FLORIDA, May 23, 2002: The Hindu University of America announced the release of "Hindu Temples of North America." The book covers Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh Temples located across the United States and Canada. Architecture, iconography, art work and history of temples are featured. It contains 320 full-color pages with rare photographs and line drawings at a cost of $65 if ordered before July 27, 2002. The book is published jointly by Hindu University of America, Council of Hindu Temples of North America and Titan Graphics and Publications. For more information, e-mail "source" above.

Fiji PM's Coup Claim Sparks Row

Posted on 2002/5/22 9:49:02 ( 1115 reads )


FIJI, May 22, 2002: Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has sparked a furious row by claiming a coup two years ago was part of a plan by God to depose the country's Indian-led government. Critics claim his remarks amount to blasphemy. "The SDL coalition won because it was God's plan," Qarase said. "I believe God wanted to terminate that government." In the coup, Speight and a gang of soldiers stormed parliament and took Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji's first ethnic Indian leader, and his government hostage. The military later intervened and installed Qarase as prime minister before eventually organizing elections last year, which Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavatani Lewenivanua (SDL) party won. Indigenous Fijians, the bulk of them Methodists, make up 51 per cent of Fiji's 800,000 people. Indians, predominantly Hindu, account for 44 per cent, and racial tension has been a constant source of political instability in the Pacific nation.

Gill Sees No Remorse for Riots in Gujarat

Posted on 2002/5/22 9:48:02 ( 1077 reads )


GANDHINAGAR, GUJARAT, INDIA, May 22, 2002: Calling it a "Kalinga effect," where a remorseful Emperor Ashok (circa 270 bce) became a messiah of peace seeing the death and destruction caused by war, "supercop" K. P. S. Gill regrets that he has not seen such a trend in Gujarat after all the violence. "I do not see this happening here. Ordinarily, this happens in the society within 10 days. Even two-and-a-half months later, this is yet to begin (here)," he told reporters here. Gill said in bewilderment, "Generally, there is a sense of repentance after violence. Unfortunately, I do not find that here." Gill claimed that communal violence in Gujarat has already been contained. "one cannot now roam about freely with a dagger in hand on any Ahmedabad street," he remarked.

Pakistan Editorials Turn Alarmist

Posted on 2002/5/22 9:47:02 ( 1129 reads )


PAKISTAN, May 22, 2002: The Times of India provided an informative roundup of editorial comment in the Pakistan press on the current high level of tension between India and Pakistan. One sample, from the Pak News, is indicative of the kind of thinking going through the nation: "From the recent turn of events it is becoming clear that despite being the frontline state in the global war of terrorism, the Americans and the Indians are both planning a joint attack on Pakistan. On the surface it will be India but with full backing, material and logistics support of coalition forces. US are having joint army exercise in India and India just concluded its own war games. US Assistant Secretary of States for South Asia Christina Rocca was in New Delhi not for peace talks but for strategy on how and when to do launch such an attack. She visited Pakistan just to put Pakistan off guard. It is not a surprise that immediately after her visit firing by India across all of Kashmir Line of Control started. The 'green signal' to go ahead for this action and expelling of Ashraf Jehangir Qazi Pakistan's Ambassador to India appears to have come from the Americans."

First Buddhist High School Opened on Oahu

Posted on 2002/5/22 9:46:02 ( 1222 reads )


HONOLULU, HAWAII, May 15, 2002: The Pacific Buddhist Academy will open its doors in August of 2003 and will offer Buddhist education from pre-kindergarten through Grade 12. Under the umbrella of the Honpa Hongwanja Mission of Hawaii, the school presently offers education for pre-school through the eighth grade. With a US$1.5 million contribution from church headquarters in Kyoto, the academy will focus on a peace curriculum with the integration of Buddhist values of compassion and community service. Temple president Mary Tanouye says, "It will be peace as a subject and peace as a way of behaving. We will have teachers who are imbued in the teachings of Buddhism." In collaboration with the Spark Matsunaga Institute for Peace at UH and the United Nations Peace Project, the academy wants to produce a faculty team similar to the system used at universities. The Buddhist school has a long history in Hawaii. It first started in 1902, was closed during World War II, but in 1949 it opened its doors to elementary age students. In 1994, the school was able to offer a curriculum up to grade eight. Hindus could use this model to start creating Hindu schools across the nation.

Music Training Center to be Inaugurated

Posted on 2002/5/22 9:45:02 ( 1078 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 20, 2002: Coinciding with the birth anniversary of saint-poet Annamacharya, a temple-cum-auditorium complex, Annamacharya Sadanam, will be inaugurated by chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on May 24 at Madhapur. The complex, which is part of the Annamacharya Bhavana Vahini (ABV) project, a spiritual and cultural organization, will be used for training singers in music along with training in yoga, meditation, naturopathy, philosophy and Sanskrit. Addressing reporters on Saturday, ABV founder president Dr Shobha Raju said the first phase of the complex was completed at an estimated cost of US$2.5 million The land for the project was leased by the state government to the ABV in 1998 for propagating devotional music, she said.

Eminent Astrologer Predicts Tough Times Ahead

Posted on 2002/5/21 9:49:02 ( 1294 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, April 25, 2002: An infrequent and distinctive configuration happening only once in a century where five planets ( Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) are grouped together on the same side of the Sun, has an eminent Indian astrologer predicting tough times in the world. Gayatri Devi Vasudev, who correctly interpreted the science of astrology to foretell the September 11 tragedy, says, "The months of May and June, 2002, will not be peaceful for the world." She predicts that India will face harsh criticism for not putting a stop to the violence in Gujarat state, that Pakistan's military ruler will soon exit his office and that the United States will suffer a setback in its war against terrorism. Gayatri Devi further says, "The charts only indicate trends that can be countered by faith in God and in the inherent divinity of fellow humans."

Special Chariot for Lord Ganesha Carved by Sri Lankan Sculptor

Posted on 2002/5/21 9:48:02 ( 1182 reads )


TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, May 10, 2002: With a fellowship of over 10,000 Hindus, the Richmond Hill Temple in the Toronto area is in the middle of a 15-day long festival honoring Lord Ganesa, the remover of obstacles. In the midst of it all, Saravanamuthu Jeyarajah, a talented sculptor from Sri Lanka, is carving a three-ton chariot to carry Lord Ganesha in a three-hour procession around the main temple on May 24th. Measuring 10 meters high and 6 meters in diameter, the chariot is shaped like a lotus and is made of wood. When asked about the design Jeyarajah replies, "I have no blueprint. It comes out of my head. God has blessed me with the ability to do this. My family has been doing this for generations." After completion, the chariot will be the largest in North America. The 15-day festival called "Rathotsavam," or chariot festival, is one of the three major festivals celebrated at the Richmond Temple. Hindus around the world have been observing chariot festivals for thousands of years. On May 24, the height of the festivities, the article says, "A tiny intricately fashioned bronze and copper icon of Ganesha will be placed inside the heart of the chariot." Temple executor director Taguram Thiagaraja explains, "The festival is significant because the Lord Ganesa bestows all blessings on the people who see him. It is a time when Ganesa is among the people."

Mass Marriages Encouraged in Lucknow

Posted on 2002/5/21 9:47:02 ( 1008 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, May 19, 2002: More than 300 girls and boys in the city submitted applications for the match-making process which was conducted at the Sahu Shital Dharmasala on Sunday. The program, organized by the Sahu Rathod Mahila Chetna Samiti, aims at making the marriage ceremony less expensive though the holding of mass marriages. For parents with low incomes, marriages are a big economic problem. The Samiti has organized trips to rural and semi-urban areas of the state to motivate families to save on unnecessary expenditures during marriages and to enroll them in the program. The Samiti charges US$167 from the boy and the girl to arrange for the ceremony, ornaments, bridal wear, furniture and other essentials. Last year, the Samiti arranged eight marriages. This year they made a decision to invite more boys than girls to submit their names for match-making, in order to provide the girls a better selection for a life-partner. As a result, about two hundred boys and one hundred girls applied.

Karnataka Temple Priests Face Exams

Posted on 2002/5/18 9:49:02 ( 1308 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, May 12, 2002: Hindu temple priests in Karnataka have to now qualify by passing an examination in Agama Shastra, including Sanskrit chanting and performance of rituals. This is according to the new rules drafted by the Muzrai officials under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Trust Act of 1997 which received presidential assent in December. The Muzrai department is in charge of Hindu temple trusts in the state. Muzrai Minister Suma Vasanth told The Times of India that the draft rules have been referred to the law department and the opinion of the association of priests is also being sought. Priests are required to undergo an orientation course in chanting of mantras conducted by any private Veda school and obtain a certificate. "However, those who have crossed 40 years of age are exempted from these rules,'' she added. Asked what prompted the department to come out with such a rule now, Vasanth said experts noticed some discrepancies on the part of some priests in a few temples in chanting of mantras.

Kedarnath and Badrinatha Temples Open After Winter

Posted on 2002/5/18 9:48:02 ( 1100 reads )

Source: The Hindu

GOPESHWAR, UTTARANCHAL, INDIA, May 17, 2002: The shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath in the Garhwal Himalayas opened today after winter amid chanting of Vedic hymns and blowing of conches. This is the first time that the doors of the two shrines were opened on the same day for pilgrims. The famed temples, high in the Himalayas, are closed off during winter because of heavy snowfall.

Non-Resident Indian Meeting in New York Seeks Peace in Gujarat

Posted on 2002/5/18 9:47:02 ( 1155 reads )

Source: Press Release

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, May 12, 2002: A group of thirty-five non-resident Indians from all parts of the United States met for three days from Friday, May 10, to Sunday, May 12, to discuss the massacre of thousands of people in Gujarat and how to restore peace and end to killings in their motherland. The meeting was attended by delegates from California, Michigan, Washington D C, Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. A highlight of the meeting was a presentation of first hand testimony with slides of Gulbarg society of Ahmedabad, where 160 innocent men, women and children were burnt alive by a Hindu mob. The group condemned the killing of all innocent people in the Godhra train burning incident as well as the massive attack on Muslim population and property in Ahmedabad, Baroda and elsewhere in the state. They have vowed to work for restoration of communal harmony, reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims and members of all faiths and not rest until the guilty are brought to justice and secular values are restored in the country. They have announced the goal of raising US$1 million to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to the over 100,000 survivors herded in over 100 refugee camps in cities and villages of over 20 districts in Gujarat. A national steering committee will coordinate the activities of five separate working committees for fundraising, media, community outreach, research and long-term planning committee from New York and Washington D C. For further information, contact: Najrna Sultana, East Lansing, Michigan 48826-0707 USA. Phone: 212-319-3233.

VHP Recruits Preachers in Kerala

Posted on 2002/5/18 9:46:02 ( 1160 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, May 9, 2002: The VHP is recruiting dharma pracharaks (preachers) in Kerala to offset the work of Christian missionaries in the area. Interested parties are requested to apply to the VHP's Kochi office. "There are around 29,000 Christian missionaries in Kerala, while Hindu sadhus and sants add up to only around 400," VHP organizing secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan said. "There is a cultural and spiritual vacuum we want to fill." The VHP plans to begin by recruiting 100 pracharaks, each of whom would be sponsored. After being trained for a month in the epics, Vedas and Upanishads, the missionaries will fan out to the state's remote corners.

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