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"Goodness Gracious Me!!! They Let You Put This Out???"
Posted on 2000/11/28 22:47:02 ( 932 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND: "Goodness Gracious Me" is the BBC's Asian comedy show. They all went to India to film a special, and large crowds gathered to watch as the show's stars -- Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia and Kulvinder Ghir -- along with Dave Lamb, the actor they affectionately call "TWB" (token white bloke). The show is scheduled to air in March. Since GGM's seminal sketch in which a group of drunken Indians "go for an English" (a meal, that is) in a late-night restaurant, its take on the interaction of British and Indian culture has picked up a devoted following, with an estimated 4,000,000 viewers. The stars say that coming to India means more than authentic locations and more about introducing British whites and Asians to each other, as well as to draw the viewership of native Indians. Star TV channel aired the first three shows of the series prefaced by a warning that viewers may be offended by irreverent depictions of religion. At a press conference at the British Council in Delhi, local journalists watched a sample of GGM sketches -- depictions of overbearing Indian mothers, the Indian caste system and police racism with an English police officer trying to interest his skeptical Indian colleagues in a spate of racially motivated attacks on whites -- drew particular interest. "The BBC allows you to put this out?" one local journalist asked, incredulously. Ghir is confident that the truths unmasked by this British-style comedy can help all countries in what he calls "a global race towards a society where everyone is accepted."




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Patient Doctor Behind World's Tallest Lamp
Posted on 2000/11/28 22:46:02 ( 944 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times, October 25, 2000





NAGPUR, INDIA: A city doctor is set to enter the Guiness Book of Records for creating the tallest lamp on Earth -- 48 feet. The electric lamp is 12 feet in diameter and features four elephant heads around the base and a series of yakshas, mythical figures, which appear to carry the lamp. It was created for the Divali festival this year and erected in the Jerryl Lawn of the city. The lamp is made of resin. Guiness is sending its own people to Nagpur to verify the record.




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Amitabh Bachchan in Hot Water Over Gayatri Mantra with Shoes
Posted on 2000/11/27 22:49:02 ( 1392 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times, November 27, 2000





VARANASI, INDIA: Vedic scholars in Varanasi have taken exception to a scene in the film "Mohabbatein" by Yash Chopra, now under production, in which Amitabh Bachchan recites the sacred Gayatri Mantra with his shoes on. Just last year another movie production company ("Water") was chased out of Varanasi for complaints over insults to Hinduism. Dr. Kaushal Kishore Mishra, who led the protest against "Water" said a permanent committee will be formed to review all films that might insult Hinduism. Bachchan denied the accusations, telling Press Trust of India, "I am a deeply religious person and cannot even dream of any kind of disrespect to religious sentiments." Producer Chopra said the criticism was "absolutely incorrect, unjust, erroneous and uncalled for."




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Tribals in New Indian States Want Part in Government
Posted on 2000/11/27 22:48:02 ( 882 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times, November 27, 2000





RANCHI, JAHRKHAND, INDIA: Now that the new state of Jahrkhand has been formed, the Jahrkhandi tribals want government outsiders to leave and tribals to take their posts. The newly formed government, they felt, left them out. "Only the tribals fought for a separate state and not the outsiders. Due to all the injustices they were subjected to, all the benefits of the new state should only go to them, said Gyanmani Ekka, a tribal activist. The 1,750 "outsider" government employees aren't protesting themselves, both because they didn't want to be sent into the new state in the first place, and because some have been harassed by the tribals.




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Exorcists and Exorcisms--and Demons too?--Proliferate Across U.S.
Posted on 2000/11/27 22:47:02 ( 960 reads )


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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: There are demons here, some people say, the kind that torment and manifest themselves through the people they possess, evil spirits that can trap people inside themselves and utter foreign languages. That belief was at the root of a decision by the archdiocese of Chicago to appoint a full-time exorcist last year for the first time in its 160-year history, the name of whom remains undisclosed to protect those seeking his services. Rev. Bob Larson, an evangelical preacher and author who runs an exorcism ministry in Denver said he had 40 "exorcism teams" across the country performing exorcisms in the belief that Christians have the authority by Jesus Christ to drive Satan out. "It's in the Bible. Christ taught it." The number of full-time exorcists in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has risen to 10 from only one a decade ago, said Michael W. Cuneo, a Fordham University sociologist whose book "American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty" is to be published next year. Mr. Cuneo writes of an "underground network" of exorcists numbering in the hundreds, and a "bewildering variety of exorcisms being performed." From 1989 to 1995, the archdiocese of New York examined more than 300 potential exorcism cases. Exorcisms were performed in 10 percent of the cases, Father J. James LeBar, chief exorcist with the New York Diocese, said. Since 1995, the New York diocese has investigated about 40 cases a year. Two factors are spurring the growth in exorcisms, experts said: popular culture and a belief that there is more evil in the world. As recently as the 1960's, Mr. Cuneo said, "exorcism was all but dead and gone in the United States." But in 1973, the recently re-released movie "The Exorcist" of satanic and demonic possession changed that. However, the Roman Catholic Church requires that a physician rule out the existence of a medical or psychological condition before an exorcism can be considered.




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New Lexicon Goes On-Line
Posted on 2000/11/27 22:46:02 ( 967 reads )


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Himalayan Academy Publications announced that its comprehensive lexicon to "Dancing with Siva" is now on-line in it entirety.




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Hindu Religious Institutions Bill Approved
Posted on 2000/11/26 22:49:02 ( 1046 reads )


Source: The Hindu, November 26, 2000





BANGALORE, INDIA: With the purpose of bringing uniform law to religious institutions, the Legislative Council passed the Hindu Religious Institutions Bill on Friday, November 25th. The Bill, replacing seven former acts in Karnataka State, will bring more than 43,000 Hindu temples, maths, and religious groups under the control of a commissioner. Officers and staff, including temple priests, will be paid wages from the government, not temple funds. According to The Hindu, "The Minister of State for Charitable Institutions and Religious Endowments, Mr. Baburao Chinchansoor, assured the members that the government would not interfere in the affairs of these institutions." However, if inconsistencies are charged, administrators will be appointed by the government to rectify. The act only applies to Hindu institutions; those of Christians and Muslims are free from government control.




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Dharma, the Gurukula Way
Posted on 2000/11/26 22:48:02 ( 985 reads )


Source: The Hindu, November 21, 2000





HUBLI, INDIA: A unique institution has been imparting education in dharma and tradition to a few students through the gurukula system at Mayuri Extension in Vijayanagar. Started by the Mahacharya Trust, the Mahacharya Vidyalaya selects students over nine years of age to undergo the 12-year course in Sahitya, Vyakarana, Tarka and Vedanta. Headed by Pandit Pradymnacharya Joshi, the institute has just completed one year of its existence after being blessed by the pontiff of Uttaradimath, Satyatma Teertha Swamiji. The Vidyalaya is the brain child of Pandit Joshi who took his training at the Satyadhyana Gurukula, deemed the cradle for training in Dwaita (dualist) philosophy. Pandit Joshi wanted to develop an institution on similar lines. The Uttaradi Math gave the initial donation of Rs. 5,000 to start the Vidyalaya building and temple. Students are trained free of cost for the duration of the course of 12 years. Discipline and self-reliance were inculcated in them, and are trained to bring solace to the world-weary.




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Sivananda Ashram Appeals for Funding
Posted on 2000/11/26 22:47:02 ( 922 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA: With around 400 people under their care, Sivananda Ashram is appealing outside its homeland for additional funds for maintenance and expansion. The non-profit institution of more than 50 years, receives only RS 36/per month (US$0.78) from the government for each inmate. Orphans, destitute women, physically handicapped persons, old people, and AIDS-infected children are nurtured within the confines of the ashram. In an expansion program, the ashram would like to start a working women's hostel, a home for the blind and deaf, or training programs for youth who have been raised under its tutelage.




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India's Lost Africans
Posted on 2000/11/25 22:49:02 ( 891 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND: Long before the first slave ships started supplying labor to the cotton plantations of the American south, and many centuries before the first Africans were brought ashore to the sugar estates of Brazil and the Caribbean, Africans were being sold as slave-soldiers for India's princely states. Their descendants are the least visible part of the huge African diaspora. But today in India, lost among the mosaic of different cultures and communities, are tens of thousands of people of African descent. They are known as Sidis. "The Sidis are descendants of African slaves, sailors and servants, and merchants who remained in India after arriving through the sea trade with East Africa and the Gulf," says Amy Catlin of the University of California, who is making a special study of Sidi culture. "That was a process which began in the 12th century or before, and lasted until the late 19th century." But in the western Indian state of Gujarat -- where most Sidis live -- the community has lost touch with its roots. The village of Jambur is one of two exclusively Sidi settlements and is miserably poor. The only remnant retained of their African lineage is their music and dance. This is what professor Catlin, an ethno-musicologist, hopes to use to fill in the story of the Sidis. "In Gujarat, affinities with African music include certain musical instruments and their names," she says, "and also the performance of an African-derived musical genre called "goma." One legend has it that the Sidis of inland Gujarat originally came from Kano in northern Nigeria, and ended up in India after undertaking a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Music may be the only key that can unlock their past. The BBC journalist, Andrew Whitehead (world.today@bbc.co.uk), is seeking anyone with additional information on these people.




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No Comparative Religion for Memphis
Posted on 2000/11/25 22:48:02 ( 952 reads )


Source: Associated Press, November 24, 2000





MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, USA: A proposed comparative religion course for high school students has prompted debate in Memphis. The Shelby County School Board first tried to offer Bible history classes but was stopped by the state because the courses were found to focus too heavily on Protestants. It was then proposed that the board adopt a comparative religion course, but the school board said no. Board member Wyatt Bunker was the most vocal opponent of the comparative religion course, calling it "just altogether a bad idea to teach Hinduism, Buddhism and voodoo and whatever else in our schools.'' He said he took a comparative religion class in college and is convinced that such courses are not suitable for younger, impressionable children. "If they don't want God in our schools, then we're not going to have Gandhi in our schools,'' he said. Some citizens took exception to Bunker's comments. Cliff Heegel, a Buddhist minister who leads a small local congregation, said: "It seems to me the school board is trying to impose religious values on the curriculum, especially since they rejected the broad-based world religion course that is taught in almost every university.''




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Government Nod For Divorce Law Change Upsets Christians
Posted on 2000/11/25 22:47:02 ( 973 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Union Cabinet on Thursday decided to introduce the Indian Divorce (Amendment) Bill, 2000, ostensibly to remove discrepancies in the grounds for Christian men and women to seek divorce. Christian organizations have criticized the move, saying they were not consulted. The bill intends to amend the Indian Divorce Act, of 1869, since its provisions are outdated and discriminatory. The present bill seeks to amend particularly Section 10 of the Act, under which a Christian man seeking dissolution of marriage only needs to prove adultery by his wife. If a Christian wife wanted dissolution of the marriage, she is required to prove some other marital offense in addition to adultery to be able to obtain divorce. Catholic Bishops Conference of India spokesperson Dominic Emmanuel questioned how the could government proceed on this crucial issue without consulting the Catholic Church, which represents 67 per cent of Indian Christians. He did say the Catholics encourage removal of gender bias. India has separate laws for each religious community, governing "personal" matters such as marriage and divorce. This is unlike other countries, such as the United States, where everyone is subject to one common civil code.




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Mount Everest Moving to China
Posted on 2000/11/25 22:46:02 ( 1001 reads )


Source: India Today News Service, November 17, 2000





BEIJING, CHINA: According to a survey done by Chinese scientists, the world's tallest peak, Mt. Everest, is moving into China at a speed of six to seven centimeters per year from its position on the Nepal-China border. This is nothing new, of course, as the entire India subcontinent--once separated from Asia by ocean--first crashed into China 50 million years ago. These researchers also found that the snow cover on the top of the Mt. Everest has also been descending over the past three decades and added that "it had a connection with global warming."




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Toilet Seat Company Apologizes to Hindus
Posted on 2000/11/20 22:49:02 ( 992 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today, November 21, 2000





SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Lamar Van Dyke, one of two partners of Sittin' Pretty Designs, offered an unconditional apology to the Hindu community for placing images of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali on toilet seats. The company said they would withdraw the items from sale. In her apology for offending the sensibilities of the community, Lamar said, "My partner and I meant no harm or denigration by our product. The toilet seats were not at all an attempt to insult our beloved Goddess Kali or Lord Ganesha, both of Whom we both feel personally close to. We understand now that to a traditional Hindu, a bathroom simply doesn't constitute an area of the house to display sacred images. Here in Seattle, we found many of our friends actually make their bathrooms quite beautiful, and an elaborate, decorative toilet seat is part of it. For them, it serves somewhat as the shrine room of a traditional Hindu home. Ours is a small company, just run out of our homes. The seats are made lovingly, with our own hands. We feel that it is important to put strong female images out there in the universe to attempt to counteract the negativity that is and has been directed towards women throughout the millennia. Goddess Kali is one of the strongest female images to have survived the deliberate distortion that the patriarchy has placed upon all of our history. The only surviving female figure of the Christian version is the "virgin" Mary who is always depicted with her eyes downcast and her hands folded. Even though she is always shown in this submissive posture, we have put her on a seat as well, in the familiar form of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In doing so, we show no disrespect to Christians. We meant neither harm nor insult, and apologize to the Hindus of the world for unintentionally upsetting them."




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Half of Indian Women Say Wife Beating Justified
Posted on 2000/11/20 22:48:02 ( 1294 reads )


Source: Reuters, November 17, 2000





NEW DELHI, INDIA: More than half of Indian women believe that wife-beating can be justified under certain circumstances, a survey on population and health published this week said. The survey of 90,000 women across the country -- conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences at the initiative of the Health Ministry -- found that about 56 percent endorsed wife-beating on at least one of six grounds. Women's reluctance to report domestic violence included possibly the "culture of silence," fear and different perceptions among women about what constitutes violence. Forty percent of women agreed that wife-beating was justified for neglecting the house or children, and 37 percent felt that going out without informing their husbands constituted a valid reason. Disrespect to in-laws, suspicion of infidelity, inadequate dowry and improper cooking were also cited as acceptable grounds. The National Family Health Survey found that 20 percent of women had been physically mistreated since the age of 15, most commonly by the husband. The survey found that there was a divergence of views according to levels of education and between urban and rural women.




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