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30 Awe-Inspiring Hindu Temples
Posted on 2014/1/26 17:12:29 ( 999 reads )

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January 22, 2014 (Huffington Post): Elaborately decorated Hindu temples sing praise to the glory of God with their breathtaking architecture. Hinduism is called the world's oldest religion and many of these structures are full of history.

Slideshow at source--click the second photo to launch the slideshow.

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The Rise Of Part-Time Vegans
Posted on 2014/1/26 17:12:22 ( 641 reads )

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UNITED KINGDOM, January 20, 2014 (BBC): Once veganism was widely associated with animal rights activists, the health conscious and the religious. But now more and more people are dabbling with a vegan diet, albeit temporarily. A growing trend for giving up all animal products doesn't involve going vegan forever. Nor does it even require being morally opposed to eating meat.

More people are pledging to go vegan for seven or 30 days, according to the Vegan Society. There were 40% more people signing up to this temporary menu in the first two months of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, it says. And this year a new campaign - Veganuary - has already seen 3,200 people commit to go vegan for the first month of 2014, organizers say.

There are also 150,000 full-time vegans in the UK - so about 1 in 400 - according to the British Vegan Society. The ratio goes up to roughly one in 150 in the US, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, which puts the total figure at two million. Like vegetarians, they don't eat meat, poultry, fish or by-products of slaughter -- vegans don't eat eggs and dairy products either.

More at source.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/1/26 17:12:15 ( 550 reads )

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Only the guru is father, mother and brother. He is also friend, well-wisher and the only wealth. Thus everything should be surrendered to him. The disciple, fully surrendered to the guru, sees him as God, and then becomes God himself.
-- Chandra Jnana Agama, 2.68

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Hindu Devotees Celebrate Makar Sankranti Harvest Festival
Posted on 2014/1/22 12:58:41 ( 726 reads )

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INDIA, January 14, 2014 (NY Daily News): Makar Sankranti is a major Hindu harvest festival celebrated in almost all parts of India. It marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India. Makar Sankranti is a solar event making one of the few Indian festivals which fall on the same date in the Gregorian calendar every year: January 14th.

Very nice slideshow at source.

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Museum On Ayurveda Ready For Inauguration Near Thrissur
Posted on 2014/1/22 12:58:36 ( 809 reads )

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KOCHI, INDIA, December 22, 2014 (The Hindu Business Line): Vaidyaratnam has set up a museum on ayurveda to enlighten the public on its rich heritage and evolution. Set up with an investment close to US$809,000 at Thaikkattussery near Thrissur, the museum, the first of its kind, will be inaugurated by former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on December 27.

Astavaidyan E.T. Narayanan Mooss, who supervised the setting up of museum, said the idea is to link the ancient tradition of ayurveda with its promising future as a safe medicinal system. The past and contemporary treatment, medicine preparation and impart of education are shown at a 3D gallery.

The exhibits in the museum include authoritative texts, description of various ancient practices of black magic, study of Vedas, Yaagas and Yajnas, Gurukula system, Rasasalas or pharmacies of ancient times etc.

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Sugar is "the New Tobacco"
Posted on 2014/1/22 12:58:30 ( 832 reads )

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UNITED KINGDOM, January 8, 2014 (Daily Mali): "Sugar is the new tobacco,"said Simon Capewell, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Liverpool. Professor Capewell is part of a new US-UK campaign group -- Action on Sugar -- that says asking firms to make voluntary changes has failed.

The typical Briton consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day and some adults consume as many as 46. The maximum intake recommended by the World Health Organisation is ten, although this guideline is likely to be halved.

The UN agency says there is overwhelming evidence coming out about sugar-sweetened beverages and other sugar consumption being linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A study by Action on Sugar found surprisingly high levels of sugar in many foods, including savory products and healthy options. A Mars bar has eight teaspoons of sugar, a can of Heinz tomato soup has four teaspoons of sugar, even Glaceau Vitamin Water, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar in a 500ml bottle.

Action of Sugar said food firms should be able to reduce the amount of sugar they add to products by 20 to 30 percent within three to five years, taking 100 calories a day out of the typical diet. This would be enough to halt or even reverse rising levels of obesity and associated ill-health, it claimed.

Graham MacGregor, a professor at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London and chairman of Action on Sugar, said: "We must now tackle the obesity epidemic both in the UK and worldwide. We must start a coherent and structured plan to slowly reduce the amount of calories people consume by slowly taking out added sugar from foods and soft drinks." Dr Aseem, the group's science director, said: "Added sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever, and causes no feeling of satiety."


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/1/22 12:58:23 ( 663 reads )

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Only the guru is father, mother and brother. He is also friend, well-wisher and the only wealth. Thus everything should be surrendered to him. The disciple, fully surrendered to the guru, sees him as God, and then becomes God himself.
-- Chandra Jnana Agama, 2.68

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Uncertainty Looms over Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Posted on 2014/1/21 17:39:29 ( 771 reads )

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DEHRADUN, INDIA, January 21, 2014 (Times Of India): Only a few months are left for the Kailash Mansarovar yatra to begin. But Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), the nodal agency for the ministry of external affairs-organized yatra, is still undecided about the route that the yatris will take through Uttarakhand this year. [HPI note: this is for pilgrims going into Tibet from India, a different route than those going there via Nepal.] The main route of the pilgrimage -- which is scheduled to begin from June 8 this year -- was badly affected during the flash floods last year leading to the yatra being called off. Repair work in this area is progressing at a slow pace and it is unclear whether the route would be ready before the yatra commences.

Shirish Kumar, general manager, KMVN, told TOI that they were hopeful that the main route will open before the yatra begins but added they were also exploring the possibility of using two alternative routes as a backup plan this year. However, sources add that the alternative routes being considered could be "risky and unsafe for pilgrims."

The yatra passes through Almora, Dania, Pithoragarh, Dharchula, Tawaghat and Narayan Ashram on a motorable road. The stretch between Dharchula and Narayan Ashram is presently being repaired. A 60-meter-long road bridge at Kanchyoti village between Dharchula and Narayan Ashram and large portions of road in the nearby Tawaghat area were washed away in the flash-floods last year. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and PWD are handling the repair and construction work in the area along with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

The recent announcement of the yatra dates by the ministry of external affairs, though, has put the state government under pressure to expedite the ongoing repair work. "We have now taken up construction of Kanchyoti road bridge and damaged roads near Tawaghat as a "special case." With the help of BRO and PWD, we hope to clear the entire route by March end or April this year," says Neeraj Khairwal, DM, Pithoragarh.

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Pantheerayiram Celebrated In Kerala
Posted on 2014/1/21 17:39:24 ( 655 reads )

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KERALA, INDIA, January 12, 2014 (New India Express): It is the beginning of the year and Namboothiri families in Kerala are getting ready to conduct Vettakkoru Makan Pattu (the song to worship Lord Vettakkoru Makan) or pantheerayiram. It is a popular but challenging ritual in which the chief priest has to break 12,000 coconuts continuously in one sitting.

Manoj Kumar Kandamangalam is one of the few priests in the state who excels in conducting pantheerayiram. Coming from a noted priest family in north Kerala, Manoj has conducted this ritual at various temples and households since 1996 and is probably the fastest at it. He holds the Limca Book record of breaking 12,000 coconuts in 2 hours and 13 minutes.

Pantheerayiram is carried out as an offering to Lord Vettakkoru Makan and Lord Ayyappan. "In Kerala it is conducted for Lord Vettakkoru Makan while in other south Indian states, the ritual is conducted for Lord Ayyappan," says Manoj. Vettakkoru Makan is regarded as the son of Lord Siva. He was born to Siva and Parvathi while they were wandering through a forest in guise of tribal warriors. Soon after his birth, the infant was left in the forest and raised and trained in war strategies by tribal leaders.

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Watch the Penang Coconut-Smashing for Thai Pusam
Posted on 2014/1/21 17:39:18 ( 747 reads )

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PENANG, MALAYSIA, January 6, 2014 (Penang Channel): This is a short video of the annual Thai Pusam festival in Penang where devotees smash thousands of coconuts in honor of Lord Murugan. Note the large number of Chinese people taking part in the Hindu festival. It doesn't equal the feat described above, but is more of a community affair.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/1/21 17:39:12 ( 580 reads )

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The more we are conscious of God's presence in daily life, the more intense is the fullness of the joy we experience. God means infinitely more to our existence than the light of the sun means to the plants and trees.
-- Swami Omkarananda, (1930-2000), founder of Omkarananda Ashram

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Madurai Temple Reservoirs Fight For Survival
Posted on 2014/1/20 18:30:25 ( 655 reads )

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MADURAI, INDIA, January 6, 2014 (The Hindu): One look at the sprawling Mariamman Teppakulam, and it is the buzz of humanity inside the tank (a line wate reservoir) that first catches your attention -- boys playing cricket, people walking across the tank to go to the other side and few wheeling bicycles through patches of the dry brown and grassy green tank bed.

Many temple tanks in the city which were once brimming with water and where beautiful float festivals were held are bone dry now. The tanks found either inside or outside the temple premises are replete with rich history and fine architecture.

A source of water is something of great importance to a temple. "For most sprawling temples which bears the brunt of a hot sun, a tank ensures that some parts of the temple are always kept cool," points out Sridhar Bhattar from the Narasingam Perumal Temple. The presence of a temple tank also results in groundwater table getting charged, says A. Gurunathan, Head, Vayalagam Movement of the Dhan Foundation. It has published a book on four prominent temple tanks in Madurai.

"Owing to scarce rainfall and channels that supplied water from a main source going defunct, either a concrete floor or tiles are laid on the tank bed to retain at least the little water that the tank manages to get since it cannot support percolation and groundwater recharge," he explains.

While the channels need attention, sustained maintenance of the tank is needed, say experts. Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department officials say Mariamman Teppakulam is to be renovated at a cost of Rs. 40 lakh. It will ensure that the cracked walls are repaired. "People must be aware of the history of old tanks so that they will understand the importance of conserving them. A systematic approach in upkeep of these ancient temple tanks will make a world of difference," says official.

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Devotion On Display During Thaipusam
Posted on 2014/1/20 18:30:20 ( 667 reads )

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GEORGE TOWN, MALAYSIA, January 17, 2014 (The Malay Mail): Malaysian Hindu devotee Karthi Gan grimaces while tapping his feet to the beat of ritual drums as two men plunge dozens of sharp hooks into his chest and back. The painful ritual is Karthi's way of giving thanks to the Hindu Deity Muruga as part of the country's colorful annual Thaipusam festival, one of the world's most extreme displays of religious devotion.

Celebrated also in India and other areas with significant Tamil communities, the three-day festival that kicked off yesterday is marked with particular zest among Malaysian Indians. Hordes of Hindus flock to temples across the country with offerings, many showing their fervor via extensive piercing or by bearing the elaborately decorated burdens called kavadi that are carried to religious sites.

"I got what I asked from Lord Muruga," said Karthi, a 31-year-old engineer, who prayed during last year's festival for "a good life". "I got a new-born baby. I got a new home," he said late Thursday night, when he and thousands of others began the slow and painful process of affixing their kavadi in the northern state of Penang.

In Penang, devotees then paraded barefoot for hours Friday through the streets of the state capital Georgetown, carrying kavadi that can weigh as much as 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds). Participants swayed trance-like to drumbeats that had throbbed since Thursday.

View lots of colorful pictures in the 'In The Gallery" section at source above.

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Taiwan-Origin Scholar of Tamil Gets Thiruvalluvar Award
Posted on 2014/1/20 18:30:14 ( 693 reads )

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CHENNAI, INDIA, January 16, 2014 (New Indian Express): Taiwan scholar and poet Dr. Yu Hsi (Hung Ching Yu), who has translated Tirukkural and the poems of Subramaniya Bharathi and poet Bharathidasan in Mandarin, was conferred with the Thiruvalluvar Award instituted by the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday. The founder president of the Tamil Sangam of Taiwan, Dr. Yu Hsi is the first foreign scholar to receive this award. At a public function held here, Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam presented the award to the scholar. The award carries a gold medal, a check for US$1,625 and a citation.

Dr. Yu Hsi was born in Taiwan on March 16, 1951 and is a Doctor of Letters. He has authored more than 60 books. The scholar was awarded $8,775 by the State for translating Tirukkural. However, he had donated the amount to Tamil University for setting up of an endowment to propagate Tirukkural.

In his acceptance speech, the scholar said after learning Tirukkural, he found that the teachings of Saint Tiruvallur and Chinese philosopher Confucius were similar with regard to ethics, statecraft, etc.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/1/20 18:30:00 ( 557 reads )

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True gurus are available in every religion. They may not be in the ordinary world of strife, for such a world does not want them, nor have they any use for it. Go, therefore, in search of a true master. He is ever available and is only waiting for a symptom of real earnestness in you. If you have true humility and earnestness to see God, he will solve all your doubts and show you God in no time at all.
-- Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati (1912-1954), 34th pontiff of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham

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