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Indian Jains Protest Right to Fast Until Death
Posted on 2015/8/25 19:37:35 ( 782 reads )


JAIPUR, INDIA, August 25, 2015 (Nation): Thousands of members of the austere Jain religion protested across India on Monday for the legal right to take part in an ancient ritual of starving themselves to death. Dressed in traditional white kurtas and trousers and holding banners that read "Suicide is crime, Santhara is religion", they marched silently through the city of Jaipur in the western state of Rajasthan. Jain leader Rajendra Godha said up to 100,000 devotees took part in the protest that snaked through Jaipur for several kilometres and also saw schools and businesses run by Jains close for the day.

Jains have been campaigning after a Rajasthan High Court ruled this month that their voluntary custom of fasting until death or Santhara was a form of suicide, which is illegal under Indian law. "Our peaceful protest is against the judgement pronounced by the high court without understanding the concept and objectives" of the tradition, Godha said. As part of their religion, Jains can take a vow to give up food and water as a way of embracing death.

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Temples Are Not State Property: Andhra Pradesh
Posted on 2015/8/24 19:56:40 ( 1022 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, August 19, 2015 (Deccan Chronicle): The AP endowments department on Tuesday said that Hindu temples and their properties are not government assets. Revenue department principal secretary J.S.V. Prasad said temples were never constructed by the government with taxpayers' money. They were built by Hindu philanthropists, mutts, peetams and zamindars since ancient times.

"The government is only acting as a sacred trustee of temple property and has brought the Endowment Act permitting itself to administer temples," Mr Prasad said. Mr Prasad was reacting to several cases brought to the notice of the government where departments are undertaking programs and projects are taking over temple land and have not paid compensation to the temples after a delay of several years.

He directed all land acquisition officers to pay full compensation for land taken over from temples for irrigation projects in the state. "Some land acquisition officers, as also district collectors and heads of departments are under the mistaken notion that temples properties are government properties and as a consequence they need not pay any compensation to Hindu temples," he said.

HPI note: In general, the temple properties are held in the name of the presiding Deity, who is a legal entity for this purpose.

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Harvard University Says Maha Kumbh Mela Was Better Organized than 2014 FIFA World Cup
Posted on 2015/8/24 19:56:30 ( 1006 reads )


INDIA, August 21, 2015 (Storypick): People consider India to be incompetent when it comes to organising things, but this news might change that perspective to some extent. A book produced by scholars and students of Harvard University along with architects and town planners of international repute, declared that Maha Kumbh 2013 at Prayag to be better organized than FIFA World Cup in Brazil and Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"Kumbh Mela - Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity" is a 449 page book describing the world's biggest religious congregation and is distinct management. It says, "For a country notorious for its 'lethargic' bureaucracy, the success of Maha Kumbh is truly noteworthy." Both the events in comparison had been in news for their poor management and preparations despite of more than sufficient funds and government involvement. The World Cup in Brazil faced a national outcry and 2010 CW Games were marred by scandals and corruption.

For interesting facts about the Kumbh Mela see 'source' above.

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Ganesha Statues Adorn Indian Town Before Hindu Festival
Posted on 2015/8/21 10:45:05 ( 1421 reads )


PEN, INDIA, August 11, 2015 (Malay Mail): Recently married, Namrata Raut returned to her family home in rural western India to paint hundreds of Ganesha statues ahead of a major Hindu festival celebrating the elephant-headed Deity. Pen, in Maharashtra state, is renowned for its exquisitely designed and beautifully colored statues of the auspicious God, which are sold around the world providing the lifeblood of this small community.

"There are about 350 workshops in the town and they all require many artists," Raut tells AFP, putting the finishing touches on another brightly painted carving of Hinduism's most recognizable God. In the weeks leading up to Ganesh Chaturthi around 250,000 statues are made in workshops lining the streets of Pen, a town of 30,000 people around 50 miles outside Mumbai. The workshops in Pen are taking note, increasingly making eco-friendly Deities out of natural clay that dissolve in water rather than less biodegradable plaster.

This year's Ganesh Chaturthi runs from September 17 to 27 and culminates with the statues being ritually immersed in water. Mumbai, India's commercial capital, traditionally hosts some of the largest gatherings with tens of thousands immersing statues in the Arabian Sea at beaches along the city's coast.

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From Neuromapping to Biomechanics - the Hard Science Questions that Yoga Researchers are Asking
Posted on 2015/8/21 10:44:55 ( 1375 reads )


INDIA, August 16, 2015 ( Yoga has so far been almost entirely within the ambit of India's Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy). Now the Ministry of Science wants in on it too. The Department of Science and Technology has launched a new research program it calls SATYAM, short for Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation, which allows scientists studying these matters to apply for three years of funding support from the department.

Scientists studying yoga in various institutes are asking hard science questions, conducting clinical trials, conducting molecular biology experiments to identify whether and why yoga works and what its limits are. The Department of Science and Technology already funds some of these studies. It has given more than US$124,000 to the researchers at Bengaluru's Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana to map neurophysiological, neurochemical and cerebral blood flow changes in attention processes related to yoga

Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bengaluri, better known as NIMHANS, have been asking four clinical questions about yoga - how does yoga affect cognition in patients with depression, what neurochemical alterations can the practice of yoga cause, how yoga affects cognition in healthy seniors, and how it might affect dementia. NIMHANS researchers have found that impaired cognition in depression patients can become normalized after they practice yoga for a few weeks. In another randomized trial, healthy senior citizens were given neuro-psychological tests after six months of yoga. Their cognition, it was found, was improved.

More at source.

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Hinduism Today Needs Photos of Karma Yoga in Action
Posted on 2015/8/21 10:44:44 ( 1264 reads )

KAUAI, HAWAII, August 21, 2015 (HPI): Hinduism Today is seeking good quality, uplifting photos of Hindus doing karma yoga, seva, to illustrate the Educational Insight on that subject in the Jan/Feb/March, 2016, issue. We want to depict the wide range of activities, such as cleaning at the temple, polishing brass, feeding devotees, offering charity and medical help to the community. If you have quality high-resolution photos from your temple group, organization or ashram, please email our deputy editor:

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UAE Decides to Allot Land for Temple in Abu Dhabi
Posted on 2015/8/20 19:10:43 ( 1574 reads )


ABU DHABI, August 16, 2015 (Times of India): On the occasion of PM Narendra Modi's visit, a long wait for the Indian community in UAE ended as the government there announced its decision to allot land for building a temple in Abu Dhabi. PM Modi thanked the UAE leadership for this landmark decision. "A long wait for the Indian community ends. On the occasion of PM's visit, UAE Govt decides to allot land for building a temple in Abu Dhabi," tweeted external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

The UAE is home to 2.6 million Indian workers, of whom around 20 percent are white-collar professionals. Indian expatriates comprise 30 percent of the UAE's population and are the largest nationality group.

According to Wikipedia:,_Dubai:

"Hindu Temple, Dubai (referred to locally as Shiva and Krishna Mandir) is a temple complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The temple caters to the large Hindu community in the United Arab Emirates and is the only Hindu temple in that country. The temple complex comprises a Shiva and Krishna temple. The Hindu Temple is located west of the Dubai Creek in the area of Bur Dubai (specifically Bur Dubai Old Souk). The temple is run in conjunction with the Indian consulate in Dubai; the temple also performs marriage ceremonies between Hindus. However, registration of Hindu marriages cannot be performed in the United Arab Emirates. The upper floor of the Shiva temple formerly also housed a gurudwara; the gurudwara has now moved to new premises near Jebel Ali. In 1958, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum permitted the Hindu temple to be built on the first floor of a bylane in Bur Dubai. Among the other temples in Dubai, one is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other to Lord Krishna. The over 50,000 Sikhs in the UAE got their own grand Gurdwara in 2012 which was the land donated by Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The UAE also hosts several churches frequented by the Malayali Syrian Christians. In July 2013, a Muslim businessman donated five acres of land adjoining a mosque for setting up a Swaminarayan temple."

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Employees Hit as Temples Starved of Funds
Posted on 2015/8/20 19:10:33 ( 1294 reads )


KOZHIKODE, INDIA, August 15, 2015 (Deccan Chronicle): The state government's lethargy in sanctioning funds for the temples has left many employees in a deep crisis. Several employees like those of Karikkad temple in Manjeri have not received salaries for the last four years. The Devaswom Board had refused to give funds citing that the temple had a revenue of over US$15,000.

Malabar Devaswom Employees Union state committee leader K. Parameswaran told DC that funds are given to temples based on the revenue. The temples with over $15,000 revenue per year would get only 50 percent of the expenses as management funds by the state government whereas those with poor revenue would receive more funds. "But what the government failed to assess is the functioning of many satellite temples that survive on the revenue from the main temple and also many unlisted employees who are yet to be recognised by the Devaswom Board," he added.

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Big FM Welcomes the Eighth Glorious "Big Green Ganesha"
Posted on 2015/8/20 19:10:22 ( 1234 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 12, 2015 (Radio and Music): Big FM (that's a privately-owned radio station in India which covers 45 cities, fyi) welcomes the largest Indian festival of the year with a Big twist of green, the Big Green Ganesha. The campaign was laid down in 2008 with the vision for a better eco-friendly future and has received tremendous support over the past seven years from citizens across the country.

Big Green Ganesha aims at creating social consciousness towards making one of India's largest and most popular festivals, ecologically sound. The campaign has so far touched over millions of Indians and spans across 15 major cities this year including Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa, Sholapur, Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Surat, Baroda, Mysore, Tirupati, Vizag, Chennai and Mangalore.

With an enormous paper collection drive underway, India's most popular radio network has started the process of collecting tons of newspapers and other paper products from residential areas, celebrity houses, corporate offices, shops and other commercial establishments. These will be shared with renowned sculptors from across the country to enable the creation of beautiful and artistic eco-friendly Ganesha statues through techniques of paper mache and clay molding.

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Tourists Among 18 killed in Attack at Bangkok Shrine
Posted on 2015/8/19 15:44:21 ( 1430 reads )


BANGKOK, THAILAND, August 17, 2015 (CNN): A bomb explosion that near a popular Hindu shrine in central Bangkok killed at least 18 people Monday and injured 117 more, according to a hospital in the Thai capital. Twelve victims died at the scene, and six others died later at the Erawan Medical Emergency Center, officials said. Foreigners are among the injured, said Maj Gen. Weerachon Sukhontapatipak, a Thai government spokesman. He had no specifics, but national police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang said on state TV that Chinese tourists who had traveled to Thailand from the Philippines had been killed. It's too early to say who orchestrated the attack, Somyot said.

The Bangkok Post reported the bomb, which detonated just after 7 p.m., was fastened to a utility pole in front of the Erawan Shrine. Though Buddhism is the predominant religion in Thailand, there are many Hindu shrines in Bangkok, and the Erawan Shrine is the best known among them. Streams of people pay respects at the shrine from early morning until late at night. Thais and foreign visitors make ceremonial offerings, ranging from floral garlands and fruits to teakwood elephants in the hope their wishes will be fulfilled.

The shrine houses a golden statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. Thousands of worshipers visit the site each day, praying for everything from good health to sports results. They light incense sticks and wai (bow slightly with palms pressed together) to each of the four faces of the statue. For extra luck, worshipers pay respect and money to the shrine's Thai dancers.

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Yoga Crosses over from AYUSH Department to Science
Posted on 2015/8/19 15:44:10 ( 1225 reads )


INDIA, August 14, 2015 (Indian Express): In further proof of the growing importance of yoga under the NDA government, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has decided to fund research on the impact of yoga and meditation on human health -- the first time the department has ventured into this area.

Research and studies on yoga have so far remained within the domain of AYUSH, a government department whose mandate is to promote traditional medicine, including ayurveda, unani and homeopathy. Now, in tune with the government's efforts to promote yoga internationally, the DST has called for research proposals from "scientists/academicians with prior research experience in yoga and meditation".

"Yoga is already an international movement, and it has been adopted even by the United Nations. So there is nothing unusual if the DST makes efforts in promoting research in yoga. We have already seen how popular yoga is," Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan told The Indian Express.

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Dharma Civilization Foundation to Make Major Gift Announcement at San Jose Meeting
Posted on 2015/8/19 15:44:00 ( 1258 reads )


SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, August 18, 2015 (Dharma Civilization Foundation): Join us on August 22nd, 2015 at 5 pm to 8.00 pm - at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, San Jose, in support of the Hindu Studies initiative at Berkeley. On that day we will announce a major gift that will endow the "Center for Dharma Studies" at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. On this occasion Dr. Graham Schweig will speak on the topic The Importance of Hindu Theology. Dr. Riess Potterveld will speak about the unique opportunity that the Graduate Theological Union offers for Hindu Studies. Dr. Rita Sherma will share a vision for the Center for Dharma Studies, and Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan will announce the progress being made.

Registration information is available at 'source' above.

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Hinduism Today Needs a Little Help with Sanskrit
Posted on 2015/8/19 15:43:49 ( 1264 reads )

KAUAI, HAWAII, August 19, 2015 (HPI): Hinduism Today is seeking help with a five-sloka Sanskrit guru parampara chant. The project, estimated to take 1-2 hours, involves parsing the language, doing a word-by-word translation. Anyone competent to do this can email our editor-in-chief here:

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Dry Weather Reveals Amazing River with Thousands of Shiva Lingas
Posted on 2015/8/18 20:18:24 ( 1262 reads )


INDIA, August 12, 2015 (India Divine): Recently, due to dry weather, the water level of the Shalmala river in Karnataka receded, revealing the presence of thousands of Shiva Lingas carved throughout the river bed. Because of these uncountable carvings, the place gets the name "Sahasralinga" (thousand Shiva Lingas).

Sahasralinga has become an important pilgrimage place. On the auspicious day of Mahashivaratri thousands of pilgrims visit Sahasralinga to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. Each Lingam in the river has a matching carving of Nandi (the Bull carrier of Lord Shiva) facing it. Sahasralinga is a most beautiful place. It is located near Sirsi, in the state of Karnataka.

Amazing photos at source.

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Kali, Goddess of Darkness, Lights Up Empire State Building
Posted on 2015/8/18 20:18:13 ( 1093 reads )


NEW YORK, August 10, 2015 (Yogadork): The top of the Empire State Building is famous for its specially themed lighting (green for St. Patrick's Day, rainbow for Gay Pride, etc.) but recently we've been treated to much more of a show, along with a deeper message. Last week, huge images of endangered animals were projected on the building's facade as part of Projecting Change an art exhibition by filmmaker Louie Psihoyos. Drawing attention to wildlife extinction the show shed light, literally, on the human impact on these creatures, including the most recent killing of Cecil the Lion. It also highlighted some hope/urgency in the form of an enormous and magical Kali, the Hindu Goddess of darkness, designed by artist Android Jones, which closed out the exhibition.

The dark mother of time, change, power and destruction, Kali was summoned to signify the reality of darkness and the wake-up call to alter our ways. "This Kali apparition over Manhattan may be our last warning. Fierce protectress of truth, she tells it like it is, she beckons us to dive into the dark, to face the stark reality of the global ecological crisis upon us, and to let heartbreak be the ground from which we awaken and serve." (via Rebelle Society)

Photos at source.

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