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India: 23 People Per Minute Infected With Aids

Posted on 2001/12/10 8:47:02 ( 1057 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 9, 2001: Aids campaigners in India say that as many as 23 people a minute are being infected with the HIV virus. They say that the battle against AIDS in the country is still being inhibited by a lack of unity among the various charities and non-governmental organizations that have been set up to fight the spread of AIDS. The latest figures released by the National Aids Control Organization show that four million people are infected. Campaigners such as Karuna Roy say that there is still a great deal of fear and ignorance surrounding the virus, plus a lack of co-ordination among the various groups set up to fight the spread of AIDS. The spread of AIDS is advanced by low awareness and literacy levels, combined with large migrations of labor.

Guruvayur Temples Deluged with Elephantine Gifts

Posted on 2001/12/9 8:49:02 ( 975 reads )


GURUVAYUR, KERALA, December 9, 2001: After Jayalalitha, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, donated an elephant to her favorite deity here four months ago, there is a big rush to make the jumbo offering. The media glitz over Jaya's offering spurred four more devotees, including a Malayalam actor, to offer elephants to Lord Krishna, taking the temple's collection to 56. The temple already has perhaps the world's largest private collection of elephants. Its officials are worried whether they will have enough money to look after any more. The food bill for all the elephants is totalling US$520 a day. Besides their staple diet of palm leaves and green grass, the temple feeds the pachyderms the special temple offering, Ana Ootu consisting of rice, green dal and jaggery.

George Harrison Made Eastern Spirituality Cool

Posted on 2001/12/9 8:48:02 ( 1168 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, December 9, 2001: This detailed article explores the influence of the Beatles and particularly George Harrison on the American spiritual landscape. "The evidence can be seen in every health club in America that offers yoga, every athlete who meditates before the game, everyone who shops at a holistic health food store, and every rock star who gives a benefit concert. It was George Harrison and the Beatles who popularized Eastern spirituality and later crafted a different role for the American rock star. He took Indian religious practices from being counter-culture weird to pop-culture cool." 'It would not have happened' without Harrison, says Deepak Chopra, the Indian doctor who himself popularized so many Eastern concepts. 'Overnight they made the world aware of Indian spirituality.' 'The Beatles opened the door for yoga to be accepted in a worldwide way,' says Lilias Folan, an internationally known yoga teacher and author."

A Claim to Help Choose Baby's Sex Sets Off Furor in India

Posted on 2001/12/9 8:47:02 ( 1078 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 9, 2001: The advertisement in The Times of India offering a product from the United States, a kit that claims to improve the odds of picking your baby's sex, seems sinister to women's groups and government agencies here that are fighting discrimination against girls in a society with a powerful preference for sons. A. R. Nanda, a senior civil servant in the health ministry, said today that the advertisement clearly violates a 1994 law against prenatal sex determination tests. Two lawyers have filed a complaint against The Times for printing the ad and Vibha Parthasarathi, the head of the National Commission for Women, an independent body established by Parliament, denounced the product as unethical. The Times replied to its critics today in an unsigned editorial entitled "Sophie's Choice" contends that Indian laws do not prohibit sex selection techniques used before conception.

Lutheran Priest Faces Expulsion for Praying with Other Faiths

Posted on 2001/12/9 8:46:02 ( 975 reads )


ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, December 8, 2001: To the Rev. David Benke, the ceremony at Yankee Stadium a month ago was a blessing, an opportunity to join other religious and civic leaders in offering comfort to a nation raw from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. He joined the celebrities and politicians on stage to sing patriotic songs and to pray. But some fellow clergymen took quite a different view: They saw his participation in an interfaith event as heresy. Last week, six pastors from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the nation's second-largest Lutheran denomination, filed formal charges calling for Benke's expulsion from the church. Benke "participated in idolatry by participating with non-Christians," one of the dissident pastors, the Rev. David Oberdieck said, objecting to Benke's "syncretism," or promoting the view that all religions are equal. Benke insists that the Yankee Stadium ceremony was not a formal worship service, and thus was not off-limits to Missouri Synod members. A Hindu priest was part of the service, along with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Christians.

Scientists to Study Near-Death Experiences

Posted on 2001/12/9 8:45:02 ( 927 reads )


SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM, November 30, 2001: Dr. Sam Parnia, a physician at Southampton General Hospital, has been given approval to conduct a large scale study on this experience. A pilot project on 63 patients who were revitalized after cardiac arrests revealed that four of these patients reported encounters with pre-deceased relatives or tunnel journeys. Patrick Tenney, a patient whose heart stopped ten years ago, vividly recalls, "It was beautiful, one of the most wonderful things I've ever seen. I floated or walked down the tunnel, moved into another tunnel -- it wasn't very long -- and I stood there and saw a huge mass of color." Dr. Parnia is hopeful that the study will help the medical community and society to make a more informed decision about euthanasia. BBC Radio 4 reports and an opinion poll with 1000 participants revealed that 10% of people have had an "out of body experience."

Stony Brook University Celebrates Center's Fourth Year

Posted on 2001/12/6 8:49:02 ( 1086 reads )

Source: Press Release

STONY BROOK, NEW YORK, December, 3, 2001: Leaders of the Indian community, scholars, and artists gathered last Saturday to celebrate Stony Brook University's Center for India Studies' fourth year of bringing Indian culture and scholarship to the New York area. The evening's program included the honoring of distinguished contributors to Indian art, education and community fellowship. The gala event raised $250,000 toward a $750,000 fund-raising goal. Dr. Nirmal K. Mattoo, the new President of the India Studies Foundation said that the monies are intended to create a permanent endowment for the Center, so that the kind of quality programs on India that the Center has initiated and that have found resonance in the community can continue in perpetuity. The Center offers about 20 courses a year on topics such as Indian history, languages, literature, religions, music, dance, and foreign affairs. In the last four years, over 2500 undergraduates have taken courses in India Studies. The Center has conducted numerous outreach programs in area schools, universities, museums, libraries, and community organizations.

Taiwan Buddhist Open World's First Museum of World Religions

Posted on 2001/12/6 8:48:02 ( 1085 reads )

Source: Central News Agency

TAIPEI, TAIWAN, November 9, 2001: Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, and 12 local and foreign dignitaries, including Swami Dayananda Saraswati, opened the Museum of World Religions" in suburban Taipei today. Chen said, "The inauguration of the museum is a pride and glory of the 23 million people of Taiwan, as it is the first of its kind in the world. The museum symbolizes respect, tolerance and benevolence." The museum was developed by Master Hsin-tao Shih, abbot of Ling Jiou Mountain Wu Sheng Monastery, in Fulon, Taiwan. It cost US$58 million and took ten years to complete. There are on display numerous religious scriptures, artifacts, instruments, object d'art, more than 7,000 books on various religions, as well as 2,000-plus video and audio recordings on religious subjects. The Ling Jiou Mountain Wu Sheng Monastery, one of the five most prominent monasteries in Taiwan, was established on a mountain facing the Pacific Ocean in the northeastern township of Fulon by Hsin-tao Shih more than two decades ago. Hsin-tao Shih was born in Burma to Chinese parents in 1948. He came to Taiwan as a youth and practiced Buddhism, striving for virtue by isolating himself for years before taking formal monastic vows. Hsin-tao Shih decided to build the world religion museum some ten years ago in an attempt to break lay people's superstitions, to help raise cultural standards and to help cultivate the inner virtues of human beings, a spokesman of the museum said.

India to Allow Sale of Genetically Modified Cotton

Posted on 2001/12/6 8:47:02 ( 870 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, December 6, 2001: Following the illegal sale of genetically modified cotton seed in India, the government has now said it will soon allow the cotton crops to be sold commercially for the first time. The government has been studying the GM cotton for over a year. It is resistant to the bollworm, which causes considerable damage to India's cotton crop each year. HPI adds: This report does not say whether the government will enforce the rules set up for this cotton in the USA. There, the Environmental Protection Agency requires farmers to plant a certain percentage of non-GM cotton along with every GM crop, to ensure that the bollworm does not quickly develop immunity to the built-in pesticide of the GM cotton.

Amnesty International Appeals to Bangladesh Government

Posted on 2001/12/5 8:49:02 ( 1031 reads )


December 5, 2001: The Bangladeshi government must take urgent action to protect the country's Hindu minority following weeks of grave human rights abuses, Amnesty International said today in a new report. Before the general election in October, the Hindu community was targeted, reportedly by supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for their perceived support for the rival Awami League. The backlash after the elections was systematic and severe. Bangladeshi press has reported that attackers have entered Hindu homes, beaten family members and looted their property. "Successive governments have let down the Hindu minority in Bangladesh and the last two months show exactly how vulnerable the Hindu community is. The government must live up to its responsibility to protect all of its citizens and it must do it now," Amnesty International said.

Virtual Journey into Varanasi

Posted on 2001/12/5 8:48:02 ( 896 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 5,2001: A multi-media exhibition that applies some of the latest interactive technology to one of India's most sacred cities, Varanasi (Banaras), has just ended in the Indian capital of Delhi. It took viewers on a virtual journey -- including a ride on an electronic rickshaw -- to explore what is widely believed to be one of the world's oldest living cities. The director of the unusual exhibition, Ranjit Makkuni, said his objective was to demystify modern technology by presenting it in culturally recognizable forms. At a turn of its handle, it takes you through Varanasi's streets. The exhibition also included an installation that focuses on the Ganges in the form of what Makkuni calls an electronic-pot. Footage of the river as it actually flows by Varanasi is interspersed with classical dance recitals by some of India's leading artists telling the story of the river's arrival on Earth via the matted locks of God Siva.

Vietnam's Siva Lingams

Posted on 2001/12/5 8:47:02 ( 1053 reads )


VIETNAM, June 23, 2001, A Siva Lingam monument, a relic from the lost Champa Kingdom, stands proudly at the My Son site in Vietnam. Statues depicting Lingam and Yoni can be found in Hindu-influenced cultures across the entire Asian region. But the Cham religion in Vietnam has taken these images and fashioned them into a distinctive and different form. Lingam and Yoni in the Cham religion differ from their Indian progenitors and their presence in Vietnam is evidence of the profound influence of Indian culture and religion in the country. It is also proof of the strong sense of identity of the Cham people, who borrowed from Hinduism and created statues and temples with a style all of their own. Cham Linga sculptures generally have a flat top, with only a few featuring spherical shapes. they are generally found in three different styles: square; another in two parts, one cylindrical and one square; and another has a cylindrical upper, the middle is octagonal and the bottom is square. Linga and Yoni are usually constructed as one structure. Traditionally only one Linga is attached to the Yoni, but in some Cham sculptures many Linga can be found on a single Yoni platform. The differences between Cham sculptures and those found else where in the Hindu world demonstrate subtle changes from their origins.

Call for Papers on South Asian Studies

Posted on 2001/12/5 8:46:02 ( 951 reads )


MADISON, WISCONSIN, December 5, 2001: Frank Morales of the University of Wisconsin at Madison writes, "This proposed anthology will include papers by leading scholars and professors who specialize in many fields of South Asian Studies. These fields include: Religious Studies, Philosophy, History, Literature, Political Science, Languages, Indigenous Sciences, Anthropology, Geology, Psychology, Medical Sciences, Sociology, etc. The focus of the book will be on new approaches, epistemological issues and methodological developments that will encourage a shift in South Asian Studies away from a neo-colonialist perspective and towards a perspective that is more sympathetic to the indigenous Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain cultures of South Asia. Additionally, we are especially seeking papers that critique the last 200 years of Indology/South Asian Studies, either on specific points or more generally. Papers must strictly fit these criteria to be considered for inclusion." Contact "source" above for further information.

Correction on India's President

Posted on 2001/12/5 8:45:02 ( 1063 reads )

Source: HPI

December 5, 2001: A report yesterday mistakenly identified Sri R. Venkataraman as "India's President." He is, of course, a past president of India. The present president is Sri K.R. Narayanan.

Devadasi Tradition Subject of New Film

Posted on 2001/12/4 8:49:02 ( 1196 reads )

Source: India West

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: The dedication of girls to temples in India is the topic of "Maya," a new film from director Dijvijay Singh. The film's release was hailed for its unsparing depiction of India's little-understood devadasi tradition. The film centers around twelve-year-old Maya (Nitya Shetty) who lives with her middle class family. The day that Maya reaches puberty, her childhood comes to an abrupt end as relatives start planning for the biggest event of the young girl's life: a feast and ceremony to dedicate her to the Goddess Yellamma. The films producer, Dileep Singh Rathode, stated that the subject matter is never made titillating, nor is it glossed over. "Reports from nongovernmental organizations state that until recently, as many as 15,000 girls were believed to be dedicated as devadasis in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka." Although this practice has been banned by the Indian government, the devadasi tradition persists, primarily among the dalit or "outcaste" community.

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