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A Career in Theft -- Temple Gods Included!

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:46:02 ( 1270 reads )


BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, July 7, 2002: As a boy, he helped his father loot goods trains. When he grew up, he started looting gods! Prakash Patnaik, 24, who hit headlines as the brain behind the thefts in Lingaraj and Puri Jagannath temples of Orissa, has had police groping in the dark for years. Hailing from Kantapara village of Odgaon block in Nayagarh district, with his early childhood in Bhilai, Prakash reportedly joined his father, an electrician who, after losing his job, took to crime. The first temple theft Prakash committed was stealing of 57 kg of silver ornaments from the Mahamayya Temple in Bilaspur on January 6, 1998. The state police have claimed that they were able to unveil the mystery behind the theft cases in four temples in the state including Jagannath Temple at Puri and Lingaraj temple which occurred recently. Prakash has since been arrested, and reportedly confessed his guilt before the police.

Devadasis -- Servants of God

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:45:02 ( 1212 reads )


INDIA, June 29,2002: This report on the life of India's devadasis, which may not be a subject everyone wants to read about, begins: "Lakshmi must have been stunning once -- her high, prominent cheek bones and hazel eyes hint at beauty. But that was before she was ravaged by AIDS. Now her body is emaciated -- her skin shrivelled. Two hours after her death she looks nothing like the bright vivacious 20-year-old her mother remembers." Lakshmi was a victim of a once commonplace system, now outlawed, but still thriving in isolated parts of southern India. As a devadasis, or servants of God, she was dedicated at puberty to the Goddess Yellamma. Her mother, struggling with poverty, accepted the advice of the local priest. At the age of 12, Lakshmi became a concubine for a 60-year-old man. Like all devadasis, Lakshmi was in effect married to the deity, Yellamma. She was expected to carry out rituals at the village temple, and to sing and dance at festivals. She was invited to all the village's social functions, considered incomplete without a devadasi. Evil spirits are said to cling to them, sparing the guests. But a devadasi's principle occupation -- in the eyes of many -- is the flesh trade, though strictly speaking, there is a difference between a concubine and a prostitute. Many from poverty stricken families end up as prostitutes in Bombay after being lured by tales of easy money. Once in Bombay's infamous Kamatipura area the women live and work in rat-infested brothels. Here, drug addiction and AIDS are commonplace. Devadasis have a peculiar position among Kamatipura's underclass. They have a divine mandate for what they do, but they also have little choice. After independence the Indian government banned the practice, but there are still tens of thousands of devadasis.

Krishnas' Honesty In Scandal Could Prove Costly

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:44:02 ( 1102 reads )


DALLAS, TEXAS, June 15, 2002: Windle Turley, a Dallas attorney, is known for two of the nation's most notorious lawsuits over priestly molestation. In 1997, Turley won what is still the largest jury verdict ever levied in the Catholic Church's 20-year-old sex abuse scandal, US$119,603.500. Three years later, he followed up with a $400 million lawsuit against the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, popularly known as the Hare Krishnas. It was dismissed in federal court, but Turley has refiled in state courts. According to Hare Krishna spokesman Anantanda Dasa, the organization did exactly what many have said the Catholic bishops should have done 15 years ago. But whereas the Catholics' secrecy may have helped them, the Hare Krishnas' honesty may have cost them, states this report. Long before Turley's lawsuit was filed, the Krishnas admitted they had a history of molestation and other physical abuse in their religious boarding schools. They set up an office of child protection and hired an outside investigator, scholar E. Burke Rochford, to study the treatment of children. That report was devastating, but the Hare Krishnas published it anyway. And it was like handing Turley a lawsuit on a silver platter, states this article. The report provided lots of material for Turley's suit. Turley says it's not his fault the Hare Krishnas hanged themselves with Rochford's report. The Krishna case alleges that dozens of children of Hare Krishna members were abused in the 1970s at church boarding schools in Texas, West Virginia and New York.

No Extension for Amarnath Pilgrimage

Posted on 2002/7/4 9:49:02 ( 1171 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, July 4, 2002: Requests for extending the duration of the annual Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage) had been received from many quarters, however Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Girish Chandra Saxena, announced Tuesday the yatra cannot be extended, citing security considerations. "We too would like to extend the yatra by a few days, but the present security environment does not permit us to do so. Maybe once the situation improves we would be able to take a decision in this regard," Saxena said. To minimize problems, yatra permits would be issued from all branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and tourism offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Kokata and Chennai. Saxena, who chairs the yatra board, said the state government has taken steps to ensure tight security during the month-long yatra that begins on July 20 for the expected 150,000 pilgrims. "We have already launched combing operations. We are sanitizing the route and also watching the heights. We would make if difficult for someone who is out to create mischief to sneak in," he said. Pilgrims have been killed in past years by Muslim militants.

Bhagavat Katha for Benefit of Crematorium Project

Posted on 2002/7/4 9:48:02 ( 1737 reads )


LEICESTER, ENGLAND, July 3, 2002: Bhaarat Welfare Trust announces that "Atma Shanti Katha," a special recitation of the Shrimad Bhagavat Purana by the renowned Pujya Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza (Pujya Bhaishri) will be held from 12 till 21 July, 2002, at Rushey Mead Secondary School, Leicester. The Atma Shanti Katha aims to educate the Hindu public and the wider community of the various important samskaras (rites of passage) of the Hindu faith, especially the final funeral rite -- the Anteem Samskar and to raise awareness of the Shanti Dham project. Shanti Dham proposes to built a crematorium that will cater for ceremonies according to the Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths. "It will be the first of its kind in Europe," says Mr. Kantibhai Unnadkat, Trustee of Bhaarat Welfare Trust, "The entire project will run on a non-profit making basis." With an estimated cost of US$4.5 million, the project is due for completion by summer of 2004. Many other saints will be present at the Katha. For further information, please e-mail: "source" above or call Bhavit Mehta in UK at 07944 371610.

Cotton Production - Organic or Genetically Engineered?

Posted on 2002/7/4 9:47:02 ( 1370 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

INDIA, June 24, 2002: Controversy continues as Indian environmentalists warn that the risks associated with Bt cotton, a genetically engineered version, outweigh the benefits. A study done at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences in China, has suggested that the use of Bt cotton could cause environmental damage, that Bt cotton fields have more pests, and that natural enemies of the bollworm are fewer in Bt cotton fields. Over a time period of 8 to 10 years, bollworm can also develop a resistance to Bt cotton. Farmers in India have proven that organic cotton cultivation is a viable alternative. Agriculture specialists have approached the ministers of environment, agriculture, science, and technology, asking that more studies be done promoting organic cotton growth and that illegal Bt cotton production in India be halted.

Nepal King Worships at Kali Temple in Kolkata

Posted on 2002/7/1 9:49:02 ( 1174 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, June 28, 2002: Unmoved by strong protests from animal rights activists, Nepal's King Gyanendra offered animal sacrifice for the second consecutive day Friday when a goat was slaughtered after his prayers at the historic Kalighat temple here. The slaughter took place after the dignitaries had left the temple premises apparently in a move not to ruffle the feathers of animal activists. The royal couple, who arrived at Kalighat sharp at 9.15 am without their daughter, Princess Prerana Rajya Lakshmi, stayed inside the temple complex for about 15 minutes propitiating Goddess Kali. "The king and the queen, accompanied by Nepalese priest arrived at the temple and offered the puja in the traditional Hindu way. They also touched the diety's feet and prayed for peace in Nepal and India," Mukherjee said. As part of the puja, the royal couple offered the deity a red handloom sari, a matching chunri, glass bangles, flower garlands, joss-sticks and 12 varieties of fruits, Ajoy Banerjee executive member of the temple's Council of Sevaits (priests), said.

Study Shows that Spanking Has Long-Term Harmful Effects

Posted on 2002/7/1 9:48:02 ( 1103 reads )


NEW YORK, U.S.A., June 25, 2002: Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty, suggests to parents that if their children are acting poorly and they are going to spank them, consider an alternative. She says, " Think of something else to do -- leave the room, count to 10 and come back again." After five years studying 88 studies of corporal punishment since 1938, Gershoff has tracked short and long term effects of spanking on children. Trained as a psychologist, Gershoff concluded from her project that spanking could be correlated with negative behaviors such as aggression, anti-social behavior and mental health problems. In a society where it is illegal to hit an adult, a prisoner or animals, Gershoff finds it ironic that many Americans still feel it is okay to hit young vulnerable children. Even though spanking brings quick response and compliance by children, the long-term effects are detrimental. Children who are spanked still often do not understand right from wrong and many misbehave in the same manner when parents are not around. While the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially taken a stand against corporal punishment, the American Psychological Association still has members that feel that spanking that is not too severe or too frequent can be effective with defiant 2 to 6 year olds. Gershoff says, " Until researchers, clinicians, and parents can definitively demonstrate the presence of positive effects of corporal punishment, including effectiveness in halting future misbehavior, not just the absence of negative effects, we as psychologists can not responsibly recommend its use."

Why Isn't There More Good News in the News?

Posted on 2002/7/1 9:47:02 ( 1107 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 19, 2002: Mark Morford, columnist for SFgate.com, reported that during dreary rush hour traffic on Highway 12, a large, black, gas guzzling SUV slowed down slightly to allow two small cars to merge into the lane ahead of it without the driver feeling the need to blare his horn or swerve angrily or pull out weaponry. In fact the driver smiled and shrugged and hummed and wasn't really bothered in the slightest and arrived to work exactly 1.3 seconds later than he would have, otherwise. Morford then stated, "The above non-event was reported nowhere, because if you are not really incredibly violently angry about something, you are not news." His editorial is a humorous and insightful essay on the fact that good happenings rarely make the news, and that maybe the world would be a better place if they did a bit more often.

U.S. Supermarkets Announce Guidelines for the Humane Treatment of Animals

Posted on 2002/6/30 9:49:02 ( 1100 reads )


USA, June 28, 2002: The supermarket and fast-food industries unveiled their first comprehensive guidelines for the humane treatment of farm animals, recommending that farmers curtail such practices as starving hens to make them lay more eggs, housing pregnant pigs in crates so small they cannot fully lie down and slaughtering some animals before they are fully unconscious. The guidelines are voluntary and in some areas remain vague and contested by farm groups. But they mark a new recognition that farm animal welfare is a growing concern to many American consumers. "This is the first time that the retail industry has clearly said the issue of farm animal welfare is important to it, and that it wants to make sure these issues get serious attention," said Karen Brown, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents most of the nation's supermarket owners. The recommendations were endorsed by seven leading animal welfare specialists who had been brought in by the trade associations to review the guidelines used by the pork, egg, chicken, dairy and beef industries for the treatment of farm animals. "It is historic that the entire grocery and chain restaurant industries have agreed that there are practices that are standard in the meat industry, yet clearly abusive of animals," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) director of vegan outreach. He said that the country needs animal welfare legislation, like some of the stringent laws enacted in Europe, but that the food industry is resisting strenuously.

Re-Exporting Hinduism to India

Posted on 2002/6/30 9:48:02 ( 1108 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, June 30, 2002: Jay Lakhani of the Vivekananda Centre London writes to Hindu Press International that he has received this request from Dr. T. H. Chowdary, Information Technology Advisor for the Government of Andhra Pradesh (e-mail: thc@satyam.comIndia). "We are delighted that you are teaching Hinduism in London. You are doing a great job for Bharat and the world. Here in India in the name of 'secularism' teaching Mahabharata, Bhagavata or Ramayana is prohibited, not to talk of Hinduism. But Koran and Bible could be taught. We are de-Hinduizing Indians so that they are becoming prey to the proselytizers and also become resident-non-Indians. I will be grateful if you can send the syllabus that you have drawn up for the London schools where you are teaching Hinduism. A voluntary organization, Society for Peace and Integrated Rural Development (an NGO), is launching a movement to teach Indian culture, civilization and history and literature in colleges as an extra subject. We will be taking inspiration from you and shape the content from the syllabus you have brought. We would be also be grateful if you can write an article on the scheme of teaching Hinduism in the London Schools and other places in UK." Lakhani expressed surprise that Hindus in India would be appealing to Hindus in England for guidance on how to teach Hinduism.

Swami Pareshananaji Cancels Puerto Rico Visit

Posted on 2002/6/30 9:47:02 ( 1082 reads )


PUERTO RICO, June 30, 2002: The Vedanta Society of Puerto Rico informs HPI that the just announced visit of Swami Pareshanandaji, the director of Ramakrishna mission Ashram in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been canceled. For upcoming programs of the society, e-mail "source" above.

"One Nation, Under Vishnu?" -- an Editorial Commenting on the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance Decision

Posted on 2002/6/29 9:49:02 ( 1120 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, USA, June 29, 2002: A well crafted editorial commentary by Mark Morford, SF Gate columnist has raised some interesting issues about the United States "Pledge of Allegiance" with it's suddenly controversial phrase "under God" and bipartisan opinion about prayer in schools. A judge just recently ruled the pledge was unconstitutional, because it violated the US constitution's separation of church and state. Everyone in the country from President Bush on down has commented on the decision. Morford's article says that maybe some agree with the President that America is Christian country and its "rights were derived from God." Maybe you think the current, hypocritical separation of church and state, with its sanctimonious mentions of a patriarchal Christian God everywhere, is the righteous path. But, America is also the most religiously diverse country in the world teeming with saris and yarmulkes and monk's robes and funky prayer beads and glorious ornate temples of every shape and size. There are more Muslims in the U.S. now, for example, than there are Jews or Episcopalians. America, spiritually speaking, is not what most people think it is. But nowhere is religious funk and spiritual diversity more prevalent and visible than in the classroom, which since the mid-'60s has seen an explosion of immigrant cultures and beliefs, a dazzling and unprecedented intermixing of faiths. Hence, he adds, it would seem to require negligible rationale or subtlety of mind to see that "under God" is really rather inane and exclusionary and insulting to a vast and increasing chunk of the soon-to-be-voting populace. For the editorial in it's entirety, click "source" above.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of School Vouchers

Posted on 2002/6/29 9:48:02 ( 1065 reads )


CLEVELAND, OHIO, June 27, 2002: In a landmark church-state case, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a controversial Cleveland program that allows parents to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to send their children to religious schools. If the parents do not want to send their child to public school, they are provided a "voucher" worth perhaps $2,500 which can be used to pay private school tuition instead. In the closely watched decision, the high court ruled 5-4 that the program does not violate the constitutional separation of church and state because parents have the option of choosing secular schools, as well as parochial schools. "The Ohio program is entirely neutral with respect to religion," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority. "It provides benefits directly to a wide spectrum of individuals, defined only by financial need and residence in a particular school district. It permits such individuals to exercise genuine choice among options public and private, secular and religious. The program is therefore a program of true private choice." In Cleveland, parents can choose a public magnet school or a community school, or use the voucher money for a private or parochial school. Currently, only Milwaukee and Cleveland offer parents vouchers, but Republican governors in several states have expressed interest in the idea. Rehnquist's opinion does not say a voucher program must be targeted at low-income children or limited in scope. The ruling appears to clear the way for statewide voucher programs that offer tuition subsidies to all families with school-children. The ruling is a victory for religious groups, who support voucher programs for their sectarian school systems. This decision clears the way for other innovative school choice programs. It appears that Hindu parents could send their children to Hindu schools -- if there were any. It may also make the creation of Hindu schools more possible.

Hindu Centre Singapore Announces Hinduism Classes

Posted on 2002/6/29 9:47:02 ( 1136 reads )


SINGAPORE, June 29, 2002: The Hindu Centre Singapore is pleased to announce that a third class will be commencing for the "Introduction to Hinduism" course for youths and adults. There will be one two-hour class each week for 14 weeks, commencing July 6. Students should be 17 years old and above. 120 pages of reading material will be provided. A certificate of completion will be issued to those with 80% attendance. For more information e-mail "source" above.

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