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U.S. Congressman Introduces Legislation Make Religious Workers Visa Program Permanent
Posted on 2014/4/11 16:05:03 ( 323 reads )

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 10, 2014 (Hindu American Foundation): Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) applauded the introduction of the Freedom of Faith Act by Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) earlier today. The Foundation worked closely with Rep. Honda on the legislation, which permanently reauthorizes the Special Immigrant Non-Minister provision of the Religious Worker Visa program. The Religious Worker Visa program is considered essential to many faith communities in the U.S., particularly Hindus, who rely on the program for the continued vitality of their places of worship.

"Unlike other faiths, Hindus lack facilities in the United States to train priests and religious workers here," said Harsh Voruganti, Esq., HAF's Associate Director of Public Policy. "We depend heavily upon the Religious Worker Visa to effectively staff our temples and religious institutions." "For over two decades, Congress has reauthorized this program time and time again." Rep. Honda stated. "It's time we do what's right for our communities of faith and make permanent this program that allows workers who lead worship, officiate events, and offer pastoral care, to receive temporary visas like ministers and faith leaders do."

Absent Congressional action, the Special Immigrant Non-Minister provision is scheduled to expire in September 2015. The provision has been consistently renewed by Congress every three years, but supporters argue that the constant need for renewal is inefficient and hurts houses of worship. "Houses of worship, like businesses, cannot function in uncertainty," noted Padma Kuppa, a member of HAF's Board of Directors and a prominent interfaith activist in Greater Detroit. "It's difficult for a temple or church to make long-term management decisions when we don't know if this vital program will exist next year. The Freedom of Faith Act solves this dilemma."

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Panchavadyams And Poorams: Spectacles Of North Kerala
Posted on 2014/4/11 16:04:56 ( 292 reads )

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KERALA, INDIA, April 9, 2014 (Press Information Bureau): The months of April and May, when the temperatures soar and the countryside is soaked daily in the brightest of sunlight, villages and small towns in the Malabar region (Northern parts) of Kerala reverberate to the exciting rhythms of various instruments. The colorful and musical festivals of Poorams are held during this period.

The pooram festivals are conducted with the local temple as the centre. The biggest and most colorful festival takes place at Vadakkumnathan temple in Thrissur and is called Thrissur Pooram. It happens during the Malayalam month of Medam (April/May). Another important festival not far from Thrissur is the Arattupuzha Pooram, which has around 60 elephants. This year the Arattupuzha pooram is being celebrated on April 11.

Thrissur pooram, the grandest spectacle of all has its beginnings during the reign of Sakthan Thampuran - one of the strongest rulers of the erstwhile kingdom of Kochi. He is said to have started the system of staging a grand pooram festival in repentance of having accidentally beheaded an oracle (what is locally known as a velichappadu - one who acts as a spokesperson for the local deity).

Panchavadyam, a rhythmic orchestra, that may feature more than 100 artists, playing five (pancha) different kindof instruments, is one of the major ingredients of the Pooram festivals. The term panchavadyam literally means an orchestra of five instruments. It is basically a temple art form that has evolved in Kerala. Of the five instruments, four --timila, maddalam, ilathalam and idakka -- belong to the percussion category, while the fifth, the kombu, is a wind instrument.

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"Yoga Saved My Career"
Posted on 2014/4/11 16:04:49 ( 341 reads )

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UNITED STATES, April 9, 2014 (Forbes): Serial entrepreneur Pravin Kothari has spent the past two decades in Silicon Valley's enterprise software trenches. He's had a hand in founding four tech companies, including ArcSight, which grew into a $1.6 billion HP acquisition in 2010. Kothari holds over a dozen patents in security technologies and is the inventor behind his latest company, CipherCloud's encryption technology. "For me, solving complex problems through innovation is my calling," says Kothari. But the biggest challenge in a startup when you have limited resources, changing priorities, too much to do and not enough time can be stress. "Yoga saved my career," says Kothari. "In 2004, I experienced a stress-induced digestive system disorder. My doctor informed me that I would need to quit startups and take daily medication for the rest of my life to counter the condition."

Under his doctors advice, Kothari started yoga to help de-stress for one hour in morning and one hour in the evening. He puts the fact that he made a full recovery and was able to toss out the medication within a year down to this routine. A 2012 study by the Alternative Medicine Review looked at 35 trials addressing the effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. It found that 25 noted a significant decrease in stress and/or anxiety symptoms when a yoga regimen was introduced, although it recommended more stringent controls such as larger study populations. "Yoga actively cleanses and refreshes one's mind and boosts creativity," says Kothari. "It helps channel peace into the organized chaos of building and running start ups. By finding their calm, employees are at optimal state for making the best decisions and deliver best results."

Kotari encourages and sponsors yoga for his employees. At ArcSight, he started weekly sponsored sessions at work to help employees better manage work life balance. "Ultimately, yoga is a powerful medium to take care of yourself, which is important because we often forget that in the course of taking care of work and family. As you get deeper into the practice, you extend that self-awareness into serving your community," says Kothari. "Yoga brings the balance, calm, team harmony, creativity and focus to help solve difficult problems faced every day in business. It can help achieve success in business and even fulfillment of personal dreams".

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/4/11 16:04:38 ( 243 reads )

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You may develop a thousand virtues and be reckoned as the greatest in the land. But the lotus of your heart will not blossom until you receive the grace of the Guru, the grace of God!
-- Dada Sadhu Vaswani

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Only Eight Pilgrims to Take Road to Kedarnath this Year
Posted on 2014/4/9 18:42:06 ( 510 reads )

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DEHRADUN, INDIA, April 9, 2014 (Times Of India): Only eight pilgrims have registered for road travel towards Kedarnath this year. Nearly 1.3 million had visited Kedarnath and Badrinath last year, during the Char Dham Yatra (pilgrimage to four holy sites). Rattled by last year's devastation in which floods killed 6,000 and stranded 100,000, only 77 devotees have opted for the chopper service for Kedarnath this year. With the Char Dham Yatra, the backbone of Uttarakhand's economy, scheduled to kick off in the first week of May, it is clear that the state is set to lose millions of dollars in revenue.

The Char Dham Yatra used to have over 20 million visitors through the pilgrimage season. It fueled the economy of Uttarakhand, triggering money circulation in the form of taxi rides, hotel bookings, chopper rides and road taxes. This year, the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) has only 294 bookings, including 77 for Kedarnath, for the Yatra.

Stunned by the low head-count, the state government has held meetings with over 250 tour operators based in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. "In the meetings we are telling the private tour operators about arrangements made by the state government in all the four shrines. This includes the medical facilities, helipads, emergency services, communications and transport," said a senior Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board official.

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Hindu Temple Awards Funds To Community Groups
Posted on 2014/4/9 18:42:00 ( 318 reads )

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LIVERMORE, CALIFORNIA, April 4, 2014 (Independent News): The Shiva Vishnu Temple's soaring white gopura, the ornate tower at the temple's entrance, is awe-inspiring against Livermore's deep blue sky, but the people gathered within are beyond warm and welcoming. "Our motto is, 'Serving God through serving mankind,'" said Kruthi Shah, emcee of the Hindu Community and Cultural Center (HCCC)'s annual Grant in Aid Ceremony on March 22nd.

"Grant in Aid is in the spirit of giving back to the community," said Karunakar Gulukota, chairman of the Human Services Functional Committee. "The HCCC stands for community overall, and is sincerely making efforts to bring a positive difference to our community. Our facilities are open to everyone who could make suitable use of them while being mindful of the fact that it is attached to the Hindu Temple."

Since 1987, around $30,000 each year is granted to non-profit organizations that focus on meeting a wide range of human needs, particularly those ensuring food, shelter, health and education. Nearly 30 non-profits were chosen this year to receive grants which varied in amount according to the organization's needs, size and programs. Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Chief Jim Miguel accepted a grant of $1,200 that will help those impacted by fires and local emergencies, along with assisting firefighter's families when needed.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/4/9 18:41:53 ( 339 reads )

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Just as the Earth bears those who dig into her, it is best to bear with those who despise us.
-- Tirukkural

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UK Court Allows Hindu Prisoner To Perform Father's Last Rites
Posted on 2014/4/8 17:55:14 ( 447 reads )

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LONDON: April 5, 2014(Times of India): In a first-of-its-kind case, a Hindu prisoner being held in a British jail has won the right to perform the last rites at his father's funeral following a major legal battle. Joginder Paul Kashyap, serving a default prison sentence over non-payment of a confiscation order at Oakwood prison near the West Midlands city of Wolverhampton, was given immediate permission this week to be "chief mourner" and have his handcuffs removed to take part in the rituals of the Hindu funeral.

The 57-year-old had originally been told by the prison that he could only attend the cremation while handcuffed and accompanied by two guards. He launched judicial review proceedings and a judge ruled earlier this week that the original decision was wrong. "The claimant's handcuffs are to be removed in accordance with the terms set out in the Schedule to this Order," reads the court order by Justice Leggatt, sitting at the Administrative Court in Birmingham.

Kashyap's claim was backed by the Hindu Council (UK), which gave scriptural advice on the basis that "it could not be in dispute that the eldest son performs the funeral rites where the offspring consists of sons and that he must be allowed to do so with dignity". The case, believed to be the first of its kind, is expected to have wide-reaching repercussions on similar cases across the UK. The prisoner's legal team had argued that the decision of the prison was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Ram Navmi Celebrated With Religious Fervor
Posted on 2014/4/8 17:55:08 ( 433 reads )

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SRINAGAR,INDIA, Apr 8, 2014 (Rising Kashmir, by Sumaiya Yousuf): Ram Navami, the birth anniversary of Lord Rama, was celebrated in Summer Capital with religious fervor and gaiety on Tuesday ending their nine-day-long fast of Chaitra Navratri. Hundreds of devotees thronged the temples since morning to pay obeisance. Havans, sankirtans and preeti bhoj were conducted. The local pujaris (priests) had organized rallies and other functions that were conducted smoothly.

A group of Kashmiri pandits told Rising Kashmir that they conducted the festival effortlessly. Expressing gratitude to Muslim community, they said that they were very happy to see Muslim brothers and sisters helping and supporting them. "We are pleased to see how everyone is supporting and enjoying our festival, we could see our Muslim brothers smiling and cheering with us so what could be better than this feeling on such a precious day," another devotee from Karan Nagar Varun Gupta said. In several other places across Kashmir, Rath Yatra (religious processions) of murthis of Lord Rama and Sita are also organized, with devotees chanting hymns.

According to Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, an organization of Kashmiri Pandits staying in Kashmir valley, currently there are 651 families with of population of 2,764 Kashmiri Pandits staying in and outside Srinagar [against a pre-1995 population of more than 100,000]. As per the Indian online pages, J&K has 10,143,700 total population and among them 3,005,349 are Hindu population maintaining 29.6% of the total population.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/4/8 17:55:01 ( 311 reads )

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Go beyond science, into the region of metaphysics. Real religion is beyond argument. It can only be lived, both inwardly and outwardly.
-- Swami Sivananda (1887-1963), founder of Divine Life Society

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Japan's Yoga Practitioners Moving To The Next Level
Posted on 2014/4/5 18:23:24 ( 603 reads )

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KYODO, JAPAN, November 27, 2013 (Japan Times): There is a "natural" convergence among yoga practitioners in Japan: Those who have practiced it primarily for slimming or health are becoming more interested in its spiritual aspects, while those who have approached it as a philosophy are more actively engaging in physical exercise, according to an experienced yoga instructor.

"When you have a dialogue with your body as a real object, you have to face yourself," Mamoru Aizawa said. "This is an awakening. Lots of people practice Ashtanga yoga early in the morning before going to work." Ashtanga yoga is a modern form of classical Indian yoga increasingly practiced in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Aizawa, whose yoga name is Chama, is an instructor at TOKYOYOGA, which offers a large number of classes in the capital. Following his instructions, students perform a series of poses ranging from the basic to the complex.

With the yoga boom spreading, what organizers called the biggest yoga event in Asia was held in Yokohama in late September. The 10th Yogafest Yokohama offered various yoga classes, including those for children and physically disabled people.

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A Rationalist's Mystical Moment
Posted on 2014/4/5 18:23:18 ( 445 reads )

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NEW YORK, April 5, 2014 (New York Times, by Barbara Ehrenreich): My atheism is hard-core, rooted in family tradition rather than adolescent rebellion. According to family legend, one of my 19th-century ancestors, a dirt-poor Irish-American woman in Montana, expressed her disgust with the church by vehemently refusing last rites when she lay dying in childbirth. From then on, we were atheists and rationalists, a stance I perpetuated by opting, initially, for a career in science.

How else to understand the world except as the interaction of tiny bits of matter and mathematically predictable forces? There were no gods or spirits, just our own minds pressing up against the unknown.

But something happened when I was 17 that shook my safely rationalist worldview and left me with a lifelong puzzle. Years later, I learned that this sort of event is usually called a mystical experience, and I can see in retrospect that the circumstances had been propitious: Thanks to a severely underfunded and poorly planned skiing trip, I was sleep-deprived and probably hypoglycemic that morning in 1959 when I stepped out alone, walked into the streets of Lone Pine, Calif., and saw the world -- the mountains, the sky, the low scattered buildings -- suddenly flame into life.

There were no visions, no prophetic voices or visits by totemic animals, just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me and I poured out into it. This was not the passive beatific merger with "the All," as promised by the Eastern mystics. It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, too vast and violent to hold on to, too heartbreakingly beautiful to let go of. It seemed to me that whether you start as a twig or a gorgeous tapestry, you will be recruited into the flame and made indistinguishable from the rest of the blaze. I felt ecstatic and somehow completed, but also shattered.

Of course I said nothing about this to anyone. Since I recognized no deities, and even the notion of an "altered state of consciousness" was unavailable at the time, I was left with only one explanation: I had had a mental breakdown, ultimately explainable as a matter of chemical imbalances, overloaded circuits or identifiable psychological forces. There had been some sort of brief equipment failure, that was all, and I determined to pull myself together and put it behind me, going on to finish my formal education as a cellular immunologist and become a responsible, productive citizen.

It took an inexcusably long time for me to figure out that what had happened to me was part of a widespread category of human experience. Some surveys find that nearly half of Americans report having had a mystical experience.

Of course all such experiences can be seen as symptoms of one sort or another, and that is the way psychiatry has traditionally disposed of the mystically adept: The shaman was simply the local schizophrenic, Saint Teresa of Avila a clear hysteric. A recent paper from Harvard Medical School proposes that the revelations experienced by Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Paul can all be attributed to "primary or mood-disorder-associated psychotic disorders." I suspect we would have more reports of uncanny experiences from ordinary, rational people if it were not for the fear of being judged insane or at least unstable.

Fortunately, science itself has been changing. It was simply overwhelmed by the empirical evidence, starting with quantum mechanics and the realization that even the most austere vacuum is a happening place, bursting with possibility and giving birth to bits of something, even if they're only fleeting particles of matter and antimatter. Without invoking anything supernatural, we may be ready to acknowledge that we are not, after all, alone in the universe. There is no evidence for a God or gods, least of all caring ones, but our mystical experiences give us tantalizing glimpses of other forms of consciousness, which may be beings of some kind, ordinarily invisible to us and our instruments. Or it could be that the universe is itself pulsing with a kind of life, and capable of bursting into something that looks to us momentarily like the flame.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/4/5 18:23:12 ( 398 reads )

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Like a tortoise withdrawing five limbs into its shell, those who restrain the five senses in one life will find safe shelter for seven.
-- Tirukkural 126

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Google Launches Virtual Tour Of Cambodia's Angkor Wat
Posted on 2014/4/4 15:58:18 ( 928 reads )

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UNITED STATES, April 3, 2014 (Voice Of America): Located in remote, northwestern Cambodia, the ancient Angkor Wat temples have been a wonder from afar for many who had neither the time nor money to pay a visit. Now, a tour is just a free click away, thanks to Google Street View. The company announced the launch of its new ground-level view of the complex Thursday in Siem Reap province, where the temples are located.

Senior Google staffer Divon Lan Thursday said the service was the product of more than a year of work. "It has significance beyond Cambodia. This is a very important part of history of the world. The site is the biggest religious site in the world. It's the biggest Hindu temple in the world, so for the billions of people who believe in Hinduism in the world, this is very important for them. So this a very important heritage site in the global scale. This is a part of the world of information that we want to bring to everyone in the world," said Lan.

Google Street View users can now visit 100 temples and sculptures around Angkor Wat, via a 360-degree perspective. The new initiative adds to existing virtual tours of the Taj Mahal in India and Mt. Fuji in Japan.

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Hindu Festival Gains Ground Among Pinoys
Posted on 2014/4/4 15:58:12 ( 479 reads )

https://ph.news.yahoo.com/photos/hindu ... d-among-pinoys-slideshow/

PHILIPPINES, April 4, 2014 (ph news): In the Philippines, a religious feast from a foreign land is starting to gain ground among Pinoy communities. Following the lead of Indian nationals now in the country, some Filipinos have joined the Hindu spring festival called Holi through music, dance and a clash of colors. The feast is also called the festival of colors, as it usually involves people throwing colored powder and water at each other. Holi, which commemorates Hindu God Krishna's dance with the gopikas, signifies the victory of good over evil.

Slideshow at source.

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