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Truce After Two Decades of War in Sri Lanka

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:49:02 ( 933 reads )


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, February 22, 2002: The Sri Lankan Government and Tamil Tiger rebels have agreed to a permanent ceasefire as part of a Norwegian initiative to end almost two decades of civil war. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has signed a memorandum of understanding drawn up by Norwegian negotiators which puts an indefinite truce in place. The chief negotiator of the Tamil Tigers, Anton Balasingham, said the memorandum would come into force on February 24. The agreement is expected to be very detailed, covering treatment of civilians by both sides, conditions for movement of unarmed combatants in each other's territory and issues like fresh recruitment.

A High Tech Documentary Featuring an Ancient Theme

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:48:02 ( 1144 reads )


AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, February 11, 2002: Imagine a documentary show-casing a pilgrim's journey from New Zealand, through India, attendance at last years Maha Kumbh Mela, and culminating back in New Zealand for a soul-stirring performance with Indian sarod player Vikash Maharaj. Andrei Jewell, an Auckland film maker whose love of Indian culture began when he was 16 years old, has produced the documentary called Holiwater. Featuring the pilgrim Isaac Tucker, an Auckland percussionist who was formerly associated with a contemporary jazz group, the documentary according to Jewell was, " As much as following Isaac, I was looking at the way the river system of the Ganges was suffering from over population. I am interested in the marriage of technology and tradition but looking at environmental as well as cultural issues."

Hindu University "Good Karma" For Central Florida

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:47:02 ( 1046 reads )


ORLANDO, FLORIDA, February 19, 2002: The developers of Orlando's Hindu University of America are certain of one thing: the unique institution they are planning already has plenty of good karma. "When you are doing God's work, He makes things happen," says Hindu University chairman, Braham Aggarwal, 66. In Hinduism, the faith of nearly a billion people, the concept of karma dictates a world in cosmic and individual balance. Soon after the university acquired a ten-acre site on Econlockhatchee Trail for the school, officials received an unsolicited gift from an absentee neighbor who donated an adjoining 2.5-acre parcel of land. The school's present core curriculum includes principles of Hinduism, practice of Hinduism and basic Sanskrit. Ultimately, the curriculum will be a mixture of academic and nonacademic disciplines, from the study of the sacred Vedas, to yoga, meditation and astrology. Aggarwal believes the need for such an institution is critical, especially for a faith that does not proselytize. "Hinduism is the least understood philosophy in this country," he says.

Smugglers In Wildlife "Are Wiping Out Species"

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:46:02 ( 914 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, February 18, 2002: More than a million imported items of endangered wildlife have been seized in Britain in the past five years, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) revealed today in the first detailed analysis of the confiscated goods. The study shows that even the most commonly recognized endangered species are being smuggled into this country. In a typical week, British customs officers seize items of elephant ivory or skin, and tiger products -- mainly used in traditional Chinese medicine -- every other day. Also among the 570 items seized each day between 1996 and 2001 are rare orchids, cacti, shells, corals, and leopard and rhino products, as well as 1,000 frogs, 1,000 birds and even a live cheetah. However over the same period, the fines levied were equal to a mere US$0.14 for each item seized. Wildlife crime is estimated by Interpol to be worth more than $8 billion a year and, after drugs, is thought to be the most lucrative illegal trade in the world. The report, Traded Towards Extinction, says the trade is helping to destroy habitats and wipe out some of the world's most endangered species -- but not enough customs officers are available to stop it. Once the smugglers get past customs, it is not even an crime to sell some of the world's most endangered species under current legislation. On average, the report says, only one prosecution is undertaken for every 130,000 items seized.

Anuradha Paudwal Survives Copter Crash

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:45:02 ( 1125 reads )


INDORE, INDIA, February 21, 2002: A helicopter carrying Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee President, Radhakishan Malviya and noted recording and concert artist, singer Anuradha Paudwal, crashed here on Thursday near Kumheri Kakad village, official sources said. However, all the occupants of the copter survived, though one suffered a spinal injury. Paudwal, one of India's most beloved performers, was here to present a live bhajana on Wednesday night on the occasion of Lakshachandi yagna.

Andaman Tribes May Have Link With Africans

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:44:02 ( 1076 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 6, 2002: Three tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands may have links with an African tribe, believed to be one of the world's oldest human community and if established, the link could dramatically change the evolutionary history of mankind, a senior scientist said here. "After analyzing the genetic make up of endangered tribal communities like Jaroa, Onge and Greater Andamanese, we concluded that some of the genetic features of Jaroas and Onges has significant resemblance with pygmies, leading to a possibility that they were related in distant past," Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Dr. Lalji Singh told the Indian Science Congress here. He said some African tribes like the pygmies are known to be the oldest human community on earth. India has about 400 tribal communities and if the link between the Indian and their African tribes are established then the evolutionary history of mankind would be changed dramatically, he said. "The preliminary findings suggest that the Indian tribes were probably one of the earliest migrants from Africa, about 60,000 years, and the anthropological features too support our theory as both pygmies and the Indian tribes have similar features, curly hair extremely dark complexion and both are short structured", Singh said. Other recent genetic research indicates the people of India were part of a wave of migration out of Africa 30,000 years ago. The Andaman tribes are noted for being one of the few peoples on Earth to have never discovered how to make fire.

Rudra Centre Cites Benefits Of Rudraksha

Posted on 2002/2/22 8:43:02 ( 1113 reads )


MAHARASHTRA, INDIA, February 19, 2002: The first issue of the Rudra Centre's Rudraksha World Newsletter presents informative articles and personal testimonials regarding the historical and contemporary use of rudraksha beads. The naturally beads from India and Nepal have been worn for thousands of years by the yogis and the holy people of India as an alternative therapy for better health and as a powerful addition to the spiritual path leading to self empowerment and enlightenment. Interested parties can browse "source" above.

Patel Versus Rasul: The Great UK Divide

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:49:02 ( 1020 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, February 19, 2002: The great sub-continental divide is alive and well, 7,000 miles away from India and Pakistan as Britain digests the news that people like 12-year-old ethnic Indian Abhay Patel and his Pakistani classmate Ahmed Rasul will grow up to be painfully different. According to an interesting new government study of U.K.'s one-million Indians and 700,000 Pakistanis, boys like Patel are more likely to be white-collar workers and pillars of British society. For Rasul, the future may be bleak and in the dole queue. The study, commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair, is stark about the impact of ethnicity, religion and class on life, livelihoods and living standards. It says that Britain's Pakistani Muslims are three times more likely to be jobless than Hindus. Sociologists say there is no contest at all. Patel is from an environment that pushes him to succeed. If Rasul does well, they say, it would be despite his circumstances. The study appears to be uncompromising about the role of religion, warning that "the odds of being unemployed do vary with religion," but it also finds racism to be a huge drawback.

Three Thousand Languages in Danger of Disappearing

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:48:02 ( 1048 reads )


PARIS, FRANCE, February 20, 2002: About half of the world's 6,000 languages are under threat of disappearing under pressure from more dominant tongues or repressive government policies, a new study says. From France and Russia to the Americas and Australia, minority languages and the heritage that goes along with them are at risk of dying out, according to a UNESCO study to be released Thursday. "With the death and disappearance of a language, an irreplaceable unit in our knowledge and understanding of human thought and world-view is lost forever," said a statement by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The 90 page study, "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing," said the Americas and Australia had the worst record. "In the United States, less than 150 Indian languages have survived out of several hundreds that were spoken before the arrival of the Europeans." According to the study, a native language can disappear when its speakers relocate and are required to speak the dominant tongue to get a job and function in the new society, or because they confront a more aggressive or economically stronger culture. Widespread bilingual or multilingual government policies on the Indian subcontinent have helped keep local languages alive there.

Hindus Celebrate Saraswati Puja in Bangladesh

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:47:02 ( 1027 reads )


CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH, February 19, 2002: The Hindu community celebrated the Saraswati Puja in the port city of Chittagong on Sunday. Students especially paid homage to Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and learning, at the different puja mondops, temporary temples. Parents also honored the Goddess for the bright academic future of their sons and daughters. The devotees gathered at the pavilion for worship in the morning. In the evening they arranged a "priti sommilon" and cultural program and worshipped at the JM Sen Hall, Deyanji Pukur Lane, Jamal Khan, Pathargata, Agrabad, Nandankanan, Ghatforharbad, Chawkbazar, and Teribaza mondops in the city.

Hindus in East Java Honor Departed Souls

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:46:02 ( 1172 reads )

Source: Jakarta Post

PROLINGGO, EAST JAVA, February 16, 2002: Hindus in East Java perform a cremation ritual that helps the soul who has made their transition reach heaven. The ritual is similar to one practiced by Balinese Hindus. In the ritual, small statues made of leaves and flowers are created to represent the deceased person. Offerings are made while traditional priests called Dukuns chant special prayers to expedite the soul's journey to heaven. After the ceremony the soul of the dead person is purified. Out of love for the pre-deceased family member, many families perform the entas-entas more than once for the same cherished soul.

Cleaning up the River Ganga

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:45:02 ( 1136 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 16, 2002: The sacred river Ganga which flows more than 2,500 kilometers through India is in dire need of attention. According to this article pollution levels at certain ritual bathing areas are 3,000 times the level safe for human beings. Two organizations, one headquartered in India called the Campaign for a Clean Ganges, and one London-based organization called the Thames 21, have collaborated to make steps to the solve the problem. Thames 21 has experience in this area from working to clean up the River Thames in southern England. Mark Lloyd of Thames 21 said, "Interim measures such as banning the use of plastic bags and stopping the dumping of human and animal carcasses into the river could lessen its pollution." Leading the Campaign for a Clean Ganges, Mr. Shantanu Misra has proposed an economical and safe system to initiate a clean-up on the River Ganga that flows through Varanasi. The system called Advanced Integrated Wastewater Oxidation Pond system has been used successfully in the U.S. Simply stated the plan moves sewage, pesticides, heavy metals and other impurities by the force of gravity into ponds where the water can be treated.

Hindus Arrested Over Church Attack

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:44:02 ( 1115 reads )


MYSORE, KARNATAKA, SOUTH INDIA, February 20, 2002: Police in the southern Indian city of Mysore have arrested nine members of the hardline Hindu group Bajrang Dal in connection with an attack on a church. Police said activists attacked the church at Hitkal village and assaulted worshippers during Sunday prayers. They said the men demanded the priest end alleged efforts to convert local villagers, who are mainly Hindu, to Christianity. The Karnataka Home Minister M Kharge said police protection had been given to churches in the area following the attack. Bajrang Dal has denied that any of its members were involved in the attack. A spokesman for the group said he attack was a result of local resentment against the issue of conversion.

Lord Ganesha Icon Kicked in NBC Episode of "Friends"

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:49:02 ( 1221 reads )

Source: HPI

USA, February 18, 2002: Readers have complained to HPI about the January 31st episode of the NBC hit series, "Friends." One report reads, "I was watching the latest episode of 'Friends' in NBC. There was a scene, in which Ross and his girl friend were sitting in a sofa, Ross explains the 'Lord Ganesh' is an artifact from Calcutta. And all of a sudden the lady (accidentally) kicks the 'Lord Ganesh Idol.' I felt that the episode director deliberately put that scene there though that scene doesn't help the story in any way. Can we do any thing about this incident of hurting 'Hindu sentiments'?" The incident is reminiscent of singer Sinead O'Conner tearing up a picture of the Pope, October 3, 1992, on "Saturday Night Live." She did it because she believed conservative Catholicism hurt the women of Ireland. There was an international outcry from Catholics over the incident, and O'Conner later apologized. Non-Hindus don't normally understand that touching anything with the feet is considered extremely disrespectful, akin to spitting in someone's face. Even an accidental touch of another person with one's foot would result in profuse apologies. For a plot summary of this episode of "Friends," visit http://www.nbc.com/Friends/episode_guide/119.html.

Hindu Activist Will Address Interfaith Assembly

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:48:02 ( 1038 reads )


TEANECK, NEW JERSEY, February 15, 2002: A Hindu swami known as an activist for the poor and as a critic of religious fundamentalism will address the annual Interfaith Brotherhood/sisterhood breakfast on Monday at the Marriott Glenpointe hotel in Teaneck. Swami Agnivesh, chairman of a United Nations trust fund on slavery, will speak about "Interfaith Cooperation as a Means to Social Justice" at the Presidents' Day breakfast. A former member of the Legislature and minister of education in Haryana, India, the swami is also critical of development that brings consumerism and allows Western world market forces to draw profits from developing countries. He has also opposed the caste system and championed the rights of women to participate in economic and political life in India. The interfaith breakfast, on Presidents' Day each year, has become a major gathering place for those interested in improving relations between religious groups.

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