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George Washington University About to Ban Religious Symbol from Campus
Posted on 2015/4/29 3:47:51 ( 809 reads )

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2015 (Indian Panorama): George Washington University is gearing up to permanently ban from campus an important religious symbol, one which is sacred to many Hindus and Buddhists in India and elsewhere, because it looks like something else which may upset the sensibilities of some students. The University has seemingly taken the position that posting anything which could be mistaken for a Nazi swastika - even if it is of a different color and orientation, and/or might be seen as "rotating" in the opposite direction - cannot be displayed on campus, even by students who are Hindus or Buddhists.

This effective banning of a sacred religious symbol, simply because it may look like something else, seems to be unprecedented. What could be more discriminatory than prohibiting Hindus and Buddhists from displaying their sacred Sanskrit svastika while permitting Christian, Jewish, and others to display their symbols, perhaps on a T-shirt?

It's like banning the 6-pointed Jewish Star of David because some people might mistake it for the pentagram symbol and human sacrifice, or expelling a student for using the word "niggardly" because other students may mistake it for a racist word and get upset, says George Washington University public interest law professor John Banzhaf. Banzhaf, in a legal memo to key campus officials, has suggested that the University and its President may already be liable for defamation and other civil torts.

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Indonesia: Medan Mayor Grants Diwali Holiday for Hindus
Posted on 2015/4/29 3:47:44 ( 658 reads )

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MEDAN, INDONESIA, April 22, 2015 (MedanBisnis): The mayor of Medan, Dzulmi Eldin, has granted a "facultative holiday" for Hindus in the city of Medan to celebrate Diwali. This was done so that Hindus can be more calm and solemn during the ritual of celebrating the festival of the victory of good against falsehood. This optional holiday will be implemented starting this year. Eldin explained that he had instructed the Secretary of Medan, Ir Syaiful Bahri, to send circulars to institutions, companies and schools to inform them that they will implement the optional holiday at Diwali time.

"I realize, as the Mayor of Medan, that we cannot move forward successfully without the help and support of all elements of society. So let's take the opportunity today for mutual respect and nurturing. Hopefully the brotherhood among us will grow even more closely in the future," he added. The chairman of the Indian Society of Medan, A.S. Kobalen, voiced his appreciation and thanked the mayor profusely. The desire for receiving time off during Diwali has been a longing of the entire Indian community in North Sumatra, particularly in the city of Medan, which has been waiting for this for one hundred years.

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Vivek Murthy, US's Youngest Surgeon-General, Takes Oath on Gita
Posted on 2015/4/29 3:47:38 ( 686 reads )

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UNITED STATES, April 24, 2015 (Focus News): American Vivek Murthy took the oath as US's youngest surgeon-general on the Bhagavad Gita. He also invoked the Indian roots of his success in the United States. "By any reasonable measure, I shouldn't be standing here. My father is the son of a farmer in rural India. He was supposed to have been a farmer, as was I," Vivek Murthy recalled to supporters gathered at Fort Myer military base after he was administered oath on Wednesday by vice president Joe Biden. Murthy is the 19th surgeon general of the United States, America's doctor-in-chief. As such, he holds the rank of Vice-Admiral (3-star admiral) in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and can wear the same uniform as US Navy admirals. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivek_Murthy for his photo in uniform.

He thanked everyone who helped him become America's youngest surgeon-general at 37. He said, "I am who I am because of my grandmother's faith, my father's strength, my mother's love, my sister's support and my fiancee's unyielding belief in me. I am blessed to have all of them here with me today. I will always be grateful to them for the sacrifices they have made." President Barack Obama, who nominated him for the position, had battled through Republican opposition for more than a year to secure a confirmation for what will be a four-year tenure.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/29 3:47:32 ( 583 reads )

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When the Creator dances, the worlds He created dance. To the measure that He dances in our knowledge, our thoughts, too, dance. When He in heart-endearing dances, the several elements, too, dance. Witness in rapture surpassing the dance of that One who is a glowing flame.
-- Tirumantiram, 2786

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Dozens of Hindu Temples Destroyed in Nepal Earthquake
Posted on 2015/4/28 3:27:52 ( 782 reads )

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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, April 28, 2015 (by Free Press Journal): Many Hindu temples including, the iconic Kasthamandap have been destroyed or badly damaged in Nepal's worst temblor in over 80 years in the Kathmandu Valley and many adjoining areas. Several temples, including Panchtale temple, the nine-storey Basantapur Durbar, the Dasa Avtar temple, Krishna Mandir, were demolished by the quake. Kasthamandap, which inspired the name Kathmandu, is an early 16th century wooden monument.

Prushottam Lochan Shrestha, a historian, said these monuments could be lost forever, as rebuilding them is technically difficult and expensive. "We have lost most of the monuments that had been designated as World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. "They cannot be restored to their original state," Shrestha was quoted as saying by Ekantipur. The powerful temblor measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale yesterday and aftershocks throughout the day destroyed around 80 per cent of the temples in Basantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu. Scores of centuries-old historical monuments, including the iconic Dharahara of Kathmandu, were reduced to rubble in the massive earthquake that hit the country on Saturday afternoon. Dharahara had broken into parts in a similar earthquake that occurred around 83 years ago during the 1934 quake that claimed over 10,000 lives.

Similarly, dozens of temples and historical buildings in Patan and Bhaktapur have collapsed or been partially damaged.

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Pashupatinath Temple Unharmed in Nepal's Devastating Quake
Posted on 2015/4/28 3:27:46 ( 896 reads )

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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, April 28, 2015 (Press Trust of India): The famous 5th-century Pashupatinath Temple here has survived the massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake that flattened several World Heritages like iconic Dharhara tower and Darbar Square in Nepal. "The Pashupatinath Temple is safe, we have checked the shrine many times and it has developed no cracks," a devotee at the temple said. The temple, one of the seven monument groups in UNESCO's designation of Kathmandu Valley as a cultural heritage site, is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu whose existence dates back to 400 AD.

The funeral of over 100 people took place within the premise of the landmark temple yesterday, a devotee said. Mass cremations are being held here continuously. As the death toll rises, the authorities are working on disposing of the bodies as quickly as possible to prevent a health hazard. "People are conducting the last rites here at the temple without following proper rituals and customs," a relative of a victim said, citing the rush. The sacred Hindu temple is dedicated to Pashupatinath (Lord Shiva) and is located on the banks of the Bagmati River.

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Appeal: Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund
Posted on 2015/4/28 3:27:40 ( 642 reads )

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UNITED STATES, April 27, 2015 (VHP America Press Release): A massive earthquake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit Nepal. The earthquake centered outside Kathmandu, the capital, was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in over 80 years.

VHP of America requests your kind contribution to help the victims and their family who are affected by this devastation. VHP of America will work with appropriate agency to ensure that the donated funds only be used to help the victims of this natural disaster. VHP of America has established a relief fund and is soliciting all its members, their friends and family members to contribute to this fund generously and help the people who are in dire need of help and support. Please contribute generously to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.

More more information: http://vhp-america.org/content/help-v ... tating-earthquake-nepal-0

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Sewa International Released $10,000 for Immediate Relief for Nepal Earthquake
Posted on 2015/4/28 3:27:34 ( 584 reads )

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HOUSTON, TEXAS, April 26, 2015 (Sewa USA): Sewa has released $10,000 towards immediate relief in Nepal. Sewa International's sister organization in Nepal and several hundreds of its volunteers have already started helping the unfortunate victims within hours of this massive earthquake. Help is being rendered in rescue operations, providing first aid and distributing safe drinking water bottles, food packets, and blankets.

Sewa has created an Emergency Hotline to help locate relatives in Nepal whose communication links are down and are not reachable through phones. For this service, call 708-872-7392. In this hour of need, Sewa urges everyone to donate generously at www.sewausa.org/donate.

For information or call us at 708-USA-SEWA or email at info@sewausa.org. All donations will be used to help the victims of this catastrophic event in the field.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/28 3:27:28 ( 532 reads )

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The learned have prescribed penance for the murderer of a pious man, a drunkard, a thief or for one who has violated a solemn vow. But there is no pardon for the ungrateful.
-- The Panchatantra

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India Wants Its Rich Temples to Part with Their Gold to Help the Economy
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:40 ( 1001 reads )

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MUMBAI, INDIA, April 21, 2015 (Washington Post): Workers for the centuries-old Shree Siddhivinayak Temple here spent hours unpacking gold coins, heavy wedding necklaces and lustrous pendants from a closely guarded "strong room." By the time gold buyers began mingling with worshipers at the sweltering sanctuary on Tuesday, the jewelry auctioneers were ready. "This is not a regular gold coin that you would buy from a gold shop -- it contains the Lord's blessing," a temple board member said, holding up a tiny coin, probably left by a devotee years ago. It eventually sold for four times its face value.

Wealthy Hindu temples such as this one are repositories for much of the $1 trillion worth of privately held gold in India -- about 22,000 tons, according to an estimate from the World Gold Council. In 2011, one temple in south India was found to have more than $22 billion in gold hidden away in locked rooms rumored to be filled with snakes. Another has enough gold to rival the riches stashed at the Vatican, experts say. But little of it is contributing to the Indian economy, and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is looking to monetize India's vast hidden wealth. In coming weeks, the government plans to begin a program that will allow temples to deposit their gold into banks to earn interest and circulate in the economy, rather than sit idle in musty vaults. The gold, officials say, would be melted down and sold to jewelers.

Many traditionalists, including the boards of many of the country's leading temples, prefer to have their gold locked up rather than circulating in the economy. "The jewelry belongs to God. Why should the government melt it?" asked Chandan Male, 42, a businessman and devotee at the Siddhivinayak Temple. "By auctioning it, the jewelry is only circulating among the devotees."

More at source.

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Sashimani Devi's Death Brings End to Devadasi Tradition
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:31 ( 789 reads )

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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, March 26, 2015 (First Post): The death of Sashimani Devi, the last in a long line of devadasis at the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, marks the end of an era. Since Sashimani chose not to groom anybody as a future devadasi in her lifetime, as required under the temple rules, an 800-year-old tradition has now well and truly come to an end. While Sashimani might have been persuaded to relent and take someone under her wings, it was the vociferous protests by human and women's rights activists and the media which ensured that the efforts to find a devadasi were abandoned midway.

While liberals, rationalists and sundry right activists are exulting at the end of what they call an "obnoxious" tradition that exploited women in the name of religion, there are others - believers, servitors and even some researchers - who are sad at the end of a system that was such an integral part of the tradition for centuries.

Ironically, the death of Sashimani Devi has ensured that the service of the Lord will now be an all-male affair. Of the 120-odd sevas (services) performed in the temple, the Mahari Seva, consisting of dancing and singing the Gita Gobinda, on special occasions is the only one performed by women, the devadasis.

More at source.

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Glass Fiber Gaining Popularity in Making Temple Sculptures
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:16 ( 780 reads )

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INDIA, April 24, 2015 (The Hindu): Glass fiber ("fiberglass" in the West) has become the new cost effective and light weight medium for sculptures of new temples being constructed. Earlier temples were constructed with stones on which sculptures and carvings were made. With time, temples became concrete structures where stone sculptures or statues of concrete were used for outer and inner decoration. Recently several temples under construction in Berhampur and other parts of Ganjam district have started to use glass fiber sculptures to decorate.

A Budhi Thakurani temple under construction at Lochapada road of the city now boasts of a large statue of Goddess Durga made of glass fibre. It has been constructed by Dhruva Kumar Layak and his team, who preferred glass fiber as it could be created at a small cost of US$472. "Had the same sculpture been constructed with concrete it would have cost around $4,700 and much higher if in stone," said Mr Layak. According to Mr Layak, these glass fiber sculptures are easy to install and are more durable than concrete ones.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:07 ( 739 reads )

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He cannot be seen by the eye, and words cannot reveal Him. He cannot be reached by the senses, or by austerity or sacred actions. By the grace of wisdom and purity of mind, He can be seen, indivisible, in the silence of contemplation. This invisible Atman can be seen by the mind wherein the five senses are resting.
-- Atharva Veda

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Uttarakhand Tourist Department Aims to Revive Char Dham Economy
Posted on 2015/4/24 4:25:53 ( 875 reads )

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DEHRADUN, INDIA, April 22, 2015 (Times of India): Anil Shukla prays a lot these days. The 39-year-old father of three, who performs pujas for pilgrims at Kedarnath, has been praying fervently that the weather Gods remain benign, and the Char Dham Yatra, which began on April 21, draws in a lot of pilgrims this year. "The last two years were terrible. Earlier, we used to earn between US$3,100 and $4,750 for the six months that the yatra was on, but our incomes dipped to below $790 after the 2013 tragedy. This year at least, we hope that things look up," he says.

Like Shukla, there are many people across Uttarakhand who are voicing similar sentiments. According to state tourism department officials, the yatra provides direct and indirect employment to almost 50,000 people, and has the potential to earn revenues to the tune of $79 million to $158 million. This would make it not only the hill state's biggest annual religious extravaganza but also a massive employment generating exercise.

"The economy of a few thousand villages and some towns is dependent on the Char Dham Yatra," says Ravi Chopra, director of the People's Science Institute, a non-profit organization that takes up environmental and disaster mitigation issues. "I would estimate that there are almost 20,000 service providers for Kedarnath alone. These include priests, dhaba owners, chaiwallahs, mule operators, porters, snack sellers, sweepers ... the list is endless."

* The Char Dham Yatra is an annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The yatra began on April 21 this year with the opening of the Yamunotri shrine followed by Gangotri on April 22; Kedarnath opens on April 24, and Badrinath on April 26. Huge floods caused thousands of deaths of pilgrims in 2013 and immense loss of buildings, roads and bridges.

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Phuket History: When Hinduism Arrived from the Bay of Bengal
Posted on 2015/4/24 4:25:47 ( 924 reads )

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PHUKET, THAILAND, August 24, 2014 (Phuket News): Even when the centuries were still in single digits, the Andaman Coast was an economically active area. Along estuarine communities down the coast, Indian, Arab and Persian traders made connections with local rulers and merchants, and would often return to the same communities year after year, often waiting several months for the monsoon winds to turn. They would be allocated a home and a wife for their stay and duly begat mixed-race children. As with today's overseas visitors, some decided to stay permanently. And with them came their holy men, who spread Brahmin, Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

In the foyer of the Phuket History Museum in Thalang stands a large stone statue of the Hindu God Vishnu, found on the coast of Phang Nga in the 20th Century, confirming the early presence of Hinduism in the Phang Nga Bay area. Also, several ancient Hindu stone carvings have been recovered from Ko Pra Narai mountain, located on the old river trade route inland from Takuapa. Analysis of the stone has shown that these were made in India. Hinduism seems to have been dominant in and around Phuket for around a thousand years, from 500 BC to 500 AD. This ancient Hindu heritage can still be seen today when Thais greet each other with the word "Sawasdee" which derives from the Sanskrit word "Swastika", meaning "well-being".

More of this history at source.

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