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Hindu Heroes: Sewa International Tackles the Covid-19 Crisis with Strategic Tools

Posted on 2021/4/9 13:42:37 ( 155 reads )


COLORADO, U.S., April 9, 2021 (Hinduism Today, by V. Tontalapur): Sewa International (sewa means service) is a Hindu faith-based Indian-American charity. In March 2020, when the US detected its first Covid-19 infections, Sewa responded by opening non-medical helplines. Within weeks the US economy tumbled, colleges closed and companies laid off workers. Anxious families called in to learn how to protect themselves. Stranded Indian students wanted help to pay apartment rent and buy food. Sewa realized it had to scale up its response as the nerve-racking crisis spread globally.

By size and revenue, Sewa is a small charity. It has 4,500 volunteers and received eight million dollars in revenue in 2019. Yet, it achieved what many bigger, wealthier nonprofits failed to accomplish. Sewa made an impact in the community by providing the exact service most needed at the moment. It supplied masks and protective gear to frontline workers who were risking their lives. It distributed food to the hungry and homeless when job losses caused hardship. Its volunteers served people selflessly, expecting nothing in return. They put into practice a principle the Hindu culture and tradition has espoused from time immemorial: vasudhaiva kutumbakam , "the whole world is one family." All Dharmic traditions--Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist--adhere to this vision. During the pandemic, temples, gurdwaras, bhajan and kirtan groups joined hands to serve. Language and regional associations, cultural organizations and yoga groups added their might. Together they enabled themselves and their adopted homelands to fight the disease.

Much more on this inspiring service organization at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2021/4/9 13:42:24 ( 119 reads )


What is the secret of the true life? To remain still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly awake while in meditation.
-- Dada Sadhu Vaswani

Ten Thousand Security Personnel Take Oath at Ganga Ghat Before Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2021/4/8 11:51:15 ( 249 reads )


INDIA, March 29, 2021 (Hindustan Times): About 10,000 personnel from various paramilitary and police forces deployed at Haridwar Mahakumbh took an oath for "fulfilling their responsibilities and duties with honesty and integrity" at Har ki Pauri Ganga ghat on Sunday in Haridwar. The oath was administered by director-general of Uttarakhand police Ashok Kumar after offering prayers at Ganga ghat. About 10,000 security personnel from paramilitary forces, including Sashastra Seem Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Border Security Force and state police, have been deployed in the Mahakumbh which is scheduled to start from April 1.

Speaking on the security arrangements for the Mahakumbh mela, DGP Kumar said that apart from the on-ground security, the state police would also monitor the social media platforms. "To ensure security from all aspects, intelligence-sharing between various agencies on any anti-national activities during Mahakumbh, social media monitoring by every state and strict adherence to the Mahakumbh SOP for Covid-19 would be done," said Kumar, adding that the personnel had followed Covid-19 precautions, including wearing of masks during the oath-taking event.

Surveys: Nepal Youth Speak Out

Posted on 2021/4/8 11:51:01 ( 146 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, April 8, 2021 (Hinduism Today, by Nikki Thapa): Three years ago I left that job to pursue my own interests in running my website, askmeaboutnepal.com, and Healing Hands Nepal, my nonprofit organization, both of which allowed me to travel extensively in Nepal. As I traveled, my interest in Hinduism increased day by day with new discoveries about Nepal's variety of customs, temples, culture and traditions. When I suggested to the editors that I report on these experiences, they countered with the proposal that I survey Nepal's youth, ages 18 to 28, as a Hinduism Today article had done two years ago in India. One thing that became immediately clear is that despite being next-door neighbors and sharing the ancient traditions, being a Hindu in Nepal is not the same as being one in India. For one thing, at just four percent Muslim and one percent Christian, politics and religion in Nepal are not so intertwined as they are in India. Ninety-three percent of Nepalese are Hindus, Buddhists or Kiratist (an indigenous religion), and these religions remain intertwined in various ways, including overlapping Deities and in the celebration of festivals. Religious tolerance is so strong in Nepal that any religion's festivals are equally celebrated by everyone.

We discovered many commonalities among the youth we spoke with. Nearly all have parents who are fairly religious, maintain a home shrine where they perform daily worship and engage a designated family priest who frequently comes to perform various pujas. None miss out on the popular festivals, which provide great opportunities for celebrating with family and friends, augmented today with the posting of hundreds of photos of the events on social media. Many youth express an aversion to the social divisions within the country and to certain practices. Just about everyone had watched at least some of the Ramayana and Mahabharata TV series as children. In this meat-eating country, there was a solitary vegetarian among those we interviewed.

To read several interesting insights from this generation balancing the nation's religious and cultural heritage with the impact of modern philosophies and issues, see "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2021/4/8 11:50:48 ( 158 reads )


When individuals change for the better, then society will change, and when society changes, then the country will change.
-- Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

Hyderabad: Obscurity Over Temple Lands Leads to Huge Revenue Loss

Posted on 2021/4/5 11:58:43 ( 224 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, April 1, 2021 (Hans News Service): Hundreds of Hindu temples in the state are deprived of their rightful income through their properties, thanks to the callousness of the Endowments Department and the State government. According to sources in the Telangana State Endowments Department, the Sitharamaswamy temple at Sitharampur has been deprived of its income from properties for the past several decades. Speaking to The Hans India, a senior official from the Endowments Department said that there are no proper records of 1,148 acres of Sitharampur temple.

"Anyone visiting the Sitharampur temple would not believe that it has such a huge land bank, in which, each acre is pegged at more than US$136,000. Gross negligence of its upkeep is causing huge revenue loss to the temple," he added. Also, there is no legal provision mandating fixing the rentals at the rates prevailing in the surrounding areas. Thus, while other landlords in the area are getting $55 to $82 per acre per year, the temple is getting a pittance. Political interference was not uncommon in the united AP, forcing the Endowments Department to give temple lands for a petty price. How many temples in Telangana are now facing the same problem even after the formation of a separate State is not known as there is no information available on any public platforms about the property details of temples.

More at "source."

How India Trawlers' Plastic Catch Is Helping to Rebuild Roads

Posted on 2021/4/5 11:58:30 ( 212 reads )


INDIA, April 1, 2021 (The Guardian): For years, plastic caught by fishing communities on the Kollam coast in India's southern state of Kerala was thrown back into the water, damaging aquatic ecosystems and killing fish. But fishers are spearheading an innovative initiative to clean up the ocean - along with their daily hauls of fish, they pull in and collect the waste that gets enmeshed in their nets. Bottles, ropes, toys, shoes, discarded fishing nets and polythene bags are sorted, washed, shredded, before being recycled into material added to asphalt to help to build local roads. In 2017, the Keralan government's harbor engineering department (HED) launched its Suchitwa Sagaram (Clean Sea) initiative, providing nylon bags to the 1,000-odd fishing boats for the crew to collect the rubbish. The plastic is processed onshore and fed into a shredding machine, then sold on to roadbuilders.

Nearly 3,000 fishers and boat owners in Kollam are involved in the initiative. Peter Mathias, president of the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators' Association, says: "Previously, we didn't care much about the plastic we collected in our nets. We'd simply take the fish and toss the rest back into the ocean. But not any more - we're now protecting the ocean to save our livelihoods. Had we continued to be reckless, there wouldn't have been any more fish for us to catch." Since its launch, about 176,000 pounds of plastic waste has been collected from the seas off Kollam, of which more than half was recycled to lay 84 miles of road.

More at "source."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2021/4/5 11:58:17 ( 220 reads )


With love enshrined in the heart, one truly lives. Without it, the body is but bones encased in skin.
-- Tirukkural

Amarnath Yatra: Board Invites Hindu Leaders to Join Pilgrimage

Posted on 2021/4/2 13:48:47 ( 256 reads )


INDIA, March 31, 2021 (Brighter Kashmir): During the 40th meeting of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board which was held recently, Shri Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor, Jammu and Kashmir, who is also the Chairman of SASB instructed the Board to extend special invitations to Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, Akhara Parishad and prominent Indian Spiritual Masters for participating in the 56-day long Shri Amarnathji Yatra-2021 commencing on 28th June, 2021 with Saints from all over the country.

Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to Lieutenant governor, requested the President, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj, who is also Acharya Mahamandleshwar of the Juna Akhara, and Swami Narendra Giri Ji Maharaj, President, Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, the apex body of Akharas of Sants and Sadhus in India, to undertake the Holy Yatra of Lord Shiva and bless humanity. The government is already undertaking preparations for an expected 600,000 yatris for Shri Amarnath Yatra this year with all COVID related precautions. Spiritual masters have always showered their blessings for the well-being of people. Their divine presence will be benediction for seekers undertaking the annual pilgrimage, observed the CEO.

Yoga Ban in Alabama Schools Remains Due to Fears of Hinduism Spreading

Posted on 2021/4/2 13:48:34 ( 293 reads )


ALABAMA, U.S., April 1, 2021 (Daily Caller): A bill in Alabama that would have lifted the 1993 ban on yoga in public schools has stalled in the state's Senate, CBS News reported Thursday. During a hearing of the Alabama state Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, representatives from two conservative groups objected, stating concerns that yoga could promote Hinduism and guided meditation practices. "This whole notion that if you do yoga, you'll become Hindu -- I've been doing yoga for 10 years and I go to church and I'm very much a Christian," said Democratic State Rep. Jeremy Gray, who sponsored the bill that has stalled in the state's Senate.

The bill, which was first introduced in 2019, would have allowed yoga as an elective course to students from kindergarten to grade twelve, and they would have learned yoga poses, exercises and stretching techniques. The bill further states that, "chanting, mantras, mudras, the use of mandalas, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited." "I can give you tons of reasons why yoga is beneficial and those reasons are backed by studies and data. There is no study to my knowledge that says doing yoga exercise converts people to Hinduism," Gray wrote in an email to CBS News.

I Decided to Paint and Give 100 Ganeshas After Covid Hit the Bay Area

Posted on 2021/4/2 13:48:21 ( 278 reads )


CALIFORNIA, U.S., May 27, 2021 (India Currents by Hema Alur-Kundargi): Painting was always on my bucket list and in February, 2020 I decided to enroll in an art class. But as luck would have it, just after three classes, Covid happened. My art teacher asked me to continue practicing painting with the advice "Just believe in yourself and you will do it." I decided to paint to bring calmness and peace to my anxious mind about the uncertainty looming around the global pandemic. I decided to paint Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, as I always visualized that Ganesha up there was guiding me and watching out for me. Painting was like meditation and was truly therapeutic, engaging the brain cells in a very unique way.

I shared pictures of my artwork with friends and family via social media. My next-door neighbor was very impressed and asked if I could paint a Ganesha for her. Suddenly my passion and free time had a purpose. One thing led to another and in the span of 365 days, I have created over 100 paintings and shared or gifted over 85 paintings with neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends around the globe. Beside Ganesha, I challenged myself to line art with topics that evoke serenity - like Newborn bond, Meditation, and Gratitude. My newfound passion was a perfect win-win situation. I had an outlet for my creativity and found purpose while hunkered down at home, while my family and friends enjoyed my artwork in their home.

More at "source."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2021/4/2 13:48:07 ( 277 reads )


"May I take your order?" the waiter asked. "Yes. I'm just wondering, how do you prepare your chickens?" "Nothing special, sir," he replied. "We just tell them straight out that they're going to die."

Bangladesh Renovates Jeshoreshwari Temple In Satkhira Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Visit

Posted on 2021/4/1 11:05:40 ( 230 reads )


BANGLADESH, March 26, 2021 (Malaysia Sun): Bangladesh has renovated the Jeshoreshwari temple in Satkhira ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit during which he will offer prayers. Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali. The temple is located in Ishwaripur--a village in Shyam Nagar, Upazila of Satkhira. This is Prime Minister Modi's first visit to any country since the Covid 19 pandemic. The Kali temple in Satkhira has been repaired and decorated ahead of the Prime Minister's visit. The temple had been kept closed for a long time since the renovation, but now it is fully decked out before the arrival of Prime Minister Modi.

According to Hindu mythology, the Jeshoreshwari temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths, scattered across India and neighboring countries. The name Jeshoreshwari means Goddess of Jeshore. On the last day of his visit, Prime Minister Modi will fly to Ishwaripur village and offer puja at the temple, which is believed to have been built by a brahmin named Anari in the latter part of the 12th century. The Goddess resides there in the form of Devi Jashoreshwari and Lord Shiva appears as Chanda.

Temples, Hindu Houses Attacked in Several Bangladesh Districts

Posted on 2021/4/1 11:05:27 ( 271 reads )


DHAKA, BANGLADESH, March 31, 2021 (Daily Star): The recent spate of violence against the Hindus started with Sunday's attack on a Brahmanbaria temple launched from a Hefajat-e-Islam procession. Members of the minority religion were targets of violence after the Qawmi madrasa-based organization unleashed havoc in many areas on Sunday during their dawn-to-dusk countrywide hartal. In Brahmanbaria on Sunday, around 200 Hefajat activists ransacked the district's biggest temple Sree Sree Anandamayee Kali Mandir around noon when Hindu devotees were observing the Dol Purnima festival there. The attackers trashed and broke the statues of Krishna and Goddess Kali. The donation box for the temple and ornaments of statues were looted, while the artifacts used for ceremonies were ransacked and strewn about.

In Magura, some unidentified attackers set fire to a cremation ground and its adjacent temple in Astogram area under Mohammadpur upazila on Sunday night. Three rooms of the cremation ground, known locally as Shita Pagoler Ashram, were burnt to ashes, said Swapna Rani Biswas, former vice chairman of Mohammadur upazila parishad and organizing secretary of the upazila unit of Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council. In Bogura, attackers vandalized a statue of Hindu Goddess Saraswati at a temple at Tengrakhali village in Dhunot upazila early yesterday. Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad in a statement yesterday said a Hindu temple was vandalized at Bhabokhali village in Mymensingh's Sadar upazila and a Hindu home was set on fire at Monobhuiyan Para of Chattogram's Mirsarai upazila. These attacks took place within the past two or three days.

Young Hindu Gamer Sought to Review Video Game

Posted on 2021/4/1 11:05:14 ( 313 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, USA (HPI): Hinduism Today is seeking a young Hindu video game player to review the Raji video game. It's a remarkably designed game drawing on multiple traditions of Hindu art.

The published description reads: "Raji: An Ancient Epic is an action-adventure game set in ancient India. A young girl named Raji has been chosen by the Gods to stand against the demonic invasion of the human realm. Her destiny? To rescue her younger brother and face the demon lord Mahabalasura."

The game is available at "source" above, with a summary of it here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp9F_73egb8.

We're looking for a talented writer and reasonably experience gamer, age 12 to 18, to review the game for an article in Hinduism Today as part of our "Young Writers" program. Guidance will be provided to cover the game as well as its fascinating backstory of development.

If interested, contact Acharya Arumuganathaswami, Managing Editor, ar@hindu.org.

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