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Wicca On The Rise
Posted on 2001/1/18 22:46:02 ( 886 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 2001: Wicca, also known as the Goddess movement, Goddess spirituality, or the Craft, appears to be the fastest-growing religion in America, according to this article in The Atlantic. It is estimated that there are now more than 200,000 adherents of Wicca and related "neopagan" faiths in the United States. Wiccans often call themselves Witches, using a capital W to distinguish themselves from the word's negative associations of Satan worship and malicious magic, or just plain pagans. They tend to be white, middle-class, and highly educated. About a third of them are men. Wiccan services have been held on at least fifteen U.S. military bases and ships.




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Makara Sankrati Comes to Houston
Posted on 2001/1/18 22:45:02 ( 882 reads )


Source: Vishwa Hindu Parishad Press Release





HOUSTON, TEXAS, January 15, 2001: More than 2,500 of Houston's Hindu children women, and men, a record number, turned out for the annual Makara Sankranti Kite Flying Celebration sponsored by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America's Houston chapter members, Gujarati Samaj of Houston and Leuva Patidar Samaj. The event correspondents to Pongal in South India and this year coincided with Swami Vivekanada's birthday. A famous kite festival occurs in India on this date.




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The Kumbha Mela Of Allahabad: A Freak Fair?
Posted on 2001/1/17 22:49:02 ( 931 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today, Francois Gautier, Correspondent





PONDICHERRY, INDIA, January 17, 2001: The Kumbha Mela, which is taking place at the moment in Allahabad, demonstrates once again to what extent Western journalism, when it is applied to India, harps on the anecdotal, the superfluous, the derogatory, deforms everything and transforms what is beautiful and noble into a show of freaks and fanatics. And wasn't that the headline of the Independent of London "A freak fair"? News agencies in Europe and the US are only interested in the photos of Hollywood stars (Madonna, Demi Moore, Richard Gere, Pierce Brosnan, etc.) who are going to descend on the Kumbha Mela, even if they will be totally lost amongst the millions of (real) devotees. Western newspapers and magazines do not know by which end to take this gigantic mela and and are content to talk about uninteresting angles: sadhus and mobile phones, luxury tents for foreigners in search of spirituality, or the "Indian nationalists" trying to capitalize on the mela. Isn't it strange that at the time of globalization and standardization of the whole world, at a time when the civilization of Coca-Cola and MTV reigns supreme from Rio de Janeiro to Manila, from Paris to Shanghai, at a time when man's collective consciousness is universally lowered to an idiotic level by American TV Soaps -- Bold and Beautiful, or Friends -- nobody in the West finds it extraordinary that eighty million souls converge by plane, by car, on horseback, on foot towards a place which they consider sacred, to pray to That which is beyond us, to this immanent Force towards which men have aspired to since millenniums? But not at all! What does the Western press do? It publishes photos of naked sadhus, or stretched out on beds of thorns; it harps on the ban of Cox & Bains unethical marketing of the mela, or speaks of the VHP's fundamentalism. Always these images which denigrate India, always this colonial superior spirit which perpetuates itself in the negative vision which Western journalists have of the Indian subcontinent.




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IIT Delhi To Begin Sanskrit Studies
Posted on 2001/1/17 22:48:02 ( 1059 reads )


Source: Indian Express





NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 9, 2001: Students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, will soon have the option of studying Sanskrit texts and the precise science of Sanskrit grammar. Following a directive from the Ministry for Human Resources and Development sent to over 40 institutes in the country, IIT Delhi was the first to draft a curriculum. While the HRD Ministry wanted a full-fledged center, IIT plans to "integrate Sanskrit studies into the IIT system of education." "The idea is to remove the impression that Sanskrit is just a language. Sanskrit is on the lines of mathematics and linguistics," said Wagesh Shukla of IIT's math department, who is also a Sanskrit scholar and has spearheaded the effort. The Sanskrit program will be an elective course and has drawn mixed reaction from faculty and students, with some concerned about the utility of the course.




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New Breed of Yoga
Posted on 2001/1/17 22:47:02 ( 892 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 7, 2001: In this recent article in the New York Times, Ilene Rosenzweig notes the rapid changes taking place in yoga classes. Once associated with hippies and granola, yoga classes are now packed with students and are held in state-of-the art yoga centers. A new yoga generation has come up over the last few years as yoga studios pop up everywhere. Even fitness clubs are offering an increasingly sophisticated variety of classes as yoga outpaces the previous mainstays like spinning and step aerobics. The average New York yoga student has achieved a high level of proficiency in the physical practices and the spiritual teachings, claims Rosenzweig, creating a super breed of yogis with a command of Sanskrit lingo and expert pretzel poses. Classes often begin with ancient Hindu chants and you may even see an altar to Siva set up in the corner. Some teachers put in long hours studying yoga philosophy and Hindu texts to keep up with the level of their students knowledge. Clad in the latest yoga fashions and sporting trendy equipment they give a new image to an ancient Indian discipline. Madonna and other stars claiming yoga as their primary fitness regimen are living billboards of the sinewy, muscled "yoga body" that has become a new ideal.




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Reader Takes Exception to Hinduism Today Article on Guyana/Suriname
Posted on 2001/1/17 22:46:02 ( 955 reads )


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KAPAA, HAWAII, January 10, 2001: Hinduism Today felt HPI readers would be interested in the long letter on our article on Guyana/Suriname which appeared in the January/February, 2001, issue.

Dear Editor, Articles on the Indian Diaspora are certainly welcome, especially those that document the continuation of our Indian Culture and the efforts to propagate it. That is why the feature article by Anil Mahabir, titled "Hindus of South America," in the January/February 2001 issue of your esteem magazine is crucially important -- not for its ostentatious portrayal of the tribulations of our ancient culture, but because it does that culture an injustice. This flagrant misrepresentation aside, Mr. Mahabir's article is also a flagrant violation of part of the raison d'etre of Hinduism Today as it contravenes purposes [3] and [5]. The former, for example, states that one of the functions of your magazine is "To dispel myths, illusions and misinformation about Hinduism." This is why I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Mahabir's article. First, the article is riddled with factual errors. Here are some glaring examples:

* "I traveled 45 miles by speedboat from one bank of the Essequibo River to the next " (p. 18). As far as I know, the normal route that speedboats ply, from Parika to Supernaam, takes about 45 minutes and is no more that 10 miles. The routes plied less often, from Parika to Wakenaam and Parika to Leguan, take less time because the distances involved are shorter.

* "The Ramayana is the main text" (p. 18). This is essentially a regurgitation of historical studies that document the indenture experience. Today, at least in my native Essequibo, it is Bhagavad Gita that is the main text of Sanatana Dharma, not the Ramayana.

* I fail to understand how the similarities between Guyanese and Trinidadian Hindus have been "shaped by a shared Caribbean experience." Our Shastras and nothing else have shaped Indian culture, which has remained basically unchanged for the last 6,000 and more years, despite the prolonged shocks imparted to it by Islam and Christianity. I maintain that the core of Caribbean Hindu culture survived the indenture experience intact.

* "Pundit Reepu Persaud pointed out that these [the Indians who arrived in Guyana on May 5, 1838] were the first to bring Hinduism to the Americas, not Swami Vivekananda." This is a silly statement that lacks any deep thinking, something that is sorely absent among Caribbean Hindus. The first Indians who came to Guyana (and thus the Americas) merely relocated geographically; they did not transmit Hinduism to the people they found there. On the other hand, it was no other than Swami Vivekananda who opened the Western mind to Hinduism; it was Swamiji who sanitized Hinduism of the heathen aspects that various European and others arbitrarily pasted upon it.

* "Perhaps about 10 percent [of the Indians who came] returned to Indian from Guyana." For the record, about 240,000 Indians came to Guyana and about 76,000 returned (among other sources, see Dwarka Nath, 1970. A History of Indians in Guyana. London: Butler and Tanner). That is, about 32 per cent of those Indians who came to Guyana returned to their native Bharat.

* "It is believed the ratio of migrants was 100 men to 20 women " (p. 21). This is a downright fabrication. Indeed, the sex gap was too large for a self-sustaining Indian population, but, once again, Mr. Mahabir did not do his research. The evidence shows that,

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The Story Of Kumbh Mela
Posted on 2001/1/14 22:49:02 ( 956 reads )


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ALLAHABAD, INDIA: Periodical fairs or Melas are held by Hindus to honor of Gods or Goddesses. The most important of these is the Kumbha Mela which may have originated as a meeting place for the main religious heads who could lay down canons for the whole community as Hinduism has no supreme hierarchical head. A large number of saints and sages attend and it is the prospect of their blessing that draws the crowds. The material on this web site offers a comprehensive overview of the history and mythology of the Mela.




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Study: Cutting TV Reduces Aggression
Posted on 2001/1/14 22:48:02 ( 814 reads )


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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, January 14, 2001: A school-based program that discourages television and video game use makes grade-school children less aggressive, a Stanford University study suggests. While previous research has linked exposure to media violence with increased aggression, few potential solutions have been evaluated, the authors said. Their findings indicate "that the effects of televised violence in kids are really reversible," said Dr. Thomas Robinson, the lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics.




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Less Donations From Churchgoers To Churches
Posted on 2001/1/14 22:47:02 ( 826 reads )


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CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS, January 9, 2001: Churchgoers are donating an increasingly smaller share of their incomes. The percentage of income Protestant Christians give fell from 3.1% in 1968 to 2.5% in 1998, according to Empty Tomb, a research group in Champaign, Illinois. That means church members gave $4 billion less in 1998 than they would have if they were giving at the same rate they did in 1968. Total annual contributions rose by an average of $202 to $570 per church member, after inflation was taken into account, because incomes also rose. Most of the money is being spent on salaries, in-church programs, and building-maintenance rather than on outreach efforts such as missions and services for the poor. The report said that if U.S. church members had tithed, or given 10 percent of after-tax income in 1998, churches would have had an additional $131 billion.




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Prime Minister Keen To Bathe at Kumbha Mela
Posted on 2001/1/13 22:49:02 ( 806 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 14, 2001: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is apparently keen, along with tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims at the Maha Kumbh Mela now on in Allahabad, to immerse himself in purificatory waters. Official sources say the Special Protection Group responsible for Vajpayee's security is less than enthusiastic given the enormous logistical problems. The PM reportedly wants to participate in the most auspicious day -- January 24 -- when as many as 30 million people are expected to take a purificatory dip at the spot where the holy Ganges and Yamuna rivers converge near the town of Allahabad.




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Dalai Lama Invited to Kumbha Mela
Posted on 2001/1/13 22:48:02 ( 912 reads )


Source: Reuters





DHARMASALA, INDIA, January 11, 2001: The Dalai Lama is considering a request from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, to attend a Hindu religious festival in India, an official of the Tibetan leader's government-in-exile announced. The Dalai Lama has accepted "in principle" the invitation, according to both a member of his office in New Delhi and a high-ranking member of the Hindu Council. But he still must obtain permission from Indian officials before he can attend, the Tibetan Authority has said.




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Oriya Community Objects to ISKCON Rath Yatra
Posted on 2001/1/13 22:47:02 ( 838 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, January 8, 2001: Traditionalists of the Oriya community in Bombay who worship Lord Jagannath at the Puri temple, have vocalized their disapproval of recent ISKCON activities. Deities from the temple were paraded in chariots amidst cheering and dancing for the second time in the year 2000. Protesting that ISKCON devotees lack respect for the culture that dictates a rath yatra can only take place once a year, the community has also objected that deviation from tradition looks bad to the outside world.




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Tibetans Flee Homeland to Preserve Religious Freedom
Posted on 2001/1/13 22:46:02 ( 808 reads )


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TIBET, CHINA, January 8, 2001: Fleeing their homeland to preserve their religious freedom due to Chinese government repression, Tibetan Clergy, women and children are seeking peace in new lands. The oppressive environment advocated by the government includes such atrocities as illegal raids on houses to destroy religious altars, forced sterilization of women, lack of educational opportunities for Tibetan youth and unfounded arrests. As a result, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has reported that over 2,660 Tibetans fled into exile in the year 2000.




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Record Number of Pilgrims Visit Vaishno Devi
Posted on 2001/1/13 22:45:02 ( 810 reads )


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JAMMU, INDIA, January 7, 2001: In the year 2000, an additional 547,0000 pilgrims were able to partake in the darshan at the holy cave shrine of Vaishno Devi. The Chief Executive Officer of the Devi Shrine board attributes the increase to religious devotion as well as more amiable accommodations available for devotees.




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Genetically Modified Foods get Approval
Posted on 2001/1/13 22:44:02 ( 863 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 8, 2001: Hopeful of eradicating or reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition in India by the year 2020, the 88th Indian Science Congress has approved the production of genetically modified (GM) foods. In conjunction with protecting the environment and the rich bio-diversity of India, the technology will be tested in laboratories before reaching the fields. International biotech companies are fervently working to get a free hand for GM plants in India, as Western countries, especially in Europe, severely restrict the research. The "Vitamin A" rice, for example, cannot be tested on humans in Europe and a scheme is underway to have it tested on malnourished Indian villagers.




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