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Jupiter Mars Indian Summer Wedding Plans

Posted on 2003/8/15 9:45:02 ( 1062 reads )

The Times (London)

DELHI, INDIA, August 6, 2003: Monsoon weddings in India are off. Astrologers have declared that the planetary alignment makes it an extremely bad time to tie the knot, so thousands of Hindu brides and grooms are bringing the big day forward, or waiting until much later. The astrologers, backed by the Hindu priests who would perform the rituals, believe that arranged marriages blessed during mid-June and late October would almost certainly be doomed to failure -- and India's extravagant wedding industry, worth $1.1 billion a year, is feeling the pinch. Jewellers, matrimonial outfitters and banqueting gardens are wondering how they will manage to stay afloat. Marriage in India is regarded as the most sacred event in life. Parents believe that arranging a suitable match for their children is their most cherished duty and take no risks that it could go awry. The cause for concern? Jupiter moved into the sign of Leo, which is ruled by the Sun, on June 15. The ill-effects of its position will remain strong, according to most Indian astrologers, until October 25. Some believe it could be bad until August 27 next year.

Amarnath Pilgrimage Formally Completed

Posted on 2003/8/14 9:49:02 ( 1139 reads )


SRINIGAR, INDIA, August 14, 2003: The annual pilgrimage which witnessed a record number of two hundred thousand yatris (pilgrims) from all over the country, concluded at Pahalgam after last rituals were performed today. The last rituals -- Pujan and Visarjan -- were performed on the bank of River Lidder at Pahalgam by Mahant Deependra Giri today. Large number of sadhus who had come from various parts of the country also participated in the ceremony. Speaking on the occcason, Mahant Giri expressed satisfaction over the successful completion of the pilgrimage. He congratulated the state administration and security forces for the peaceful yatra. A record number of two lakh pilgrims had darshan this year, he said. Mahant Giri appealed to central government to take initiative for construction of necessary infrastructure at Jammu, Pahalgam, Chandnwari, Shehshnag, Panchtarni and Balatal for the pilgrims and emphased the need for making the yatra eco-friendly. The Mahant also thanked Governor General (Rtd) S K Sinha, who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board, for making all the arrangments for the sadhus who accompanied the Chahri-Mubarak (Silver Mace of Lord Siva) from Dashnami Akkhara to the cave shrine.

Security was tight along the pilgrimage route, which has been guarded for a month by thousands of soldiers, paramilitary and police. This is the first time in a decade that no incident of militant violence has been reported during the pilgrimage. However, at least 28 pilgrims died -- four in a helicopter crash and the rest due to altitude-related illnesses.

Ordinance To Replace Trustees At Sai Baba Temple

Posted on 2003/8/14 9:48:02 ( 995 reads )

Times News Network

MAHARASHTRA, INDIA, August 12, 2003: The state government has decided to issue an ordinance to dissolve the existing board of trustees of Sai Baba Temple in Shirdi. The trust has funds worth around US$32 million. Minister for law and judiciary Govindrao Adik, a Congress legislator from Ahmednagar district, sought to introduce a bill in the last session of the legislature to take over the temple trust. He was opposed by NCP legislators. The display of differences between the Congress and the NCP caused considerable embarrassment to the government and Mr. Adik withdrew the bill. According to sources, the Congress and the NCP have now worked out a consensus. The ordinance will only replace the existing trustees with new ones. The temple administration will not be taken over by the government. Steps will be taken to ensure greater transparency in the temple administration. The Chairperson of the trust will be the son of a senior NCP leader. The present trustees had opposed the government move on the grounds that the government's track record of managing other prominent temples in the state has not inspired confidence.

VHP Leaders Wants Temples Run by Autonomous Bodies

Posted on 2003/8/14 9:47:02 ( 951 reads )


RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA, August 7, 2003: The international working president of the VHP, Ashok Singhal, on Thursday advocated administration of temples by independent, self-governing bodies and stressed the importance of people's participation. In the name of better administration, state governments, including Andra Pradesh government, had been interfering with the temple administration. There was a lot of corruption. Nearly 80 percent of the income was being spent on staff and maintenance. This should stop, Mr. Singhal said. Speaking to newsmen, Mr. Singhal, who came here to take a dip in the Godavari, objected to the sale of temple lands and demanded an immediate halt to acquisition of temple lands for any purpose. He said that temple administration in Andhra Pradesh was a legacy of colonial rule in the country. Previously, philanthropists donated hundreds of acres to temples. They were managed by local devotees and swamijis and there was no interference of kings, he added.

New Mauritian Temple is Consecrated

Posted on 2003/8/14 9:46:02 ( 1390 reads )


CHEBEL, MAURITIUS, July 6, 2003: Once again Hindus in Mauritius have an occasion to celebrate their heritage. On July 6 a new temple, called the Kali Parashakti Thava Sidhar Peedam Kali Kovil, was consecrated. This unique temple, located near Beau Bassin, was built according to Vastu and Shilpa Shastras and is located on one acre of donated land. The Maha Kumbhabhisekam was performed in grand style by twenty-two priests and four musicians that were flown in from South India.

Historic Nepal Temple on the Brink of Collapse

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:49:02 ( 1110 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, August 8, 2003: The 348-year old Pratappur temple, flanking the eastern entrance of Swoyambhunath and declared a World Heritage Site in 1976, could collapse any momen. The devastating fire outbreak on Tuesday morning has left gaping fissures on its crumbling walls. The fire was completely doused only yesterday, four days after the outbreak. However, the fire combined with intermittent rain has considerably weakened the walls, and chunks of earth are falling down every now and then. "The temple requires immediate bracing. UNESCO is ready to provide financial and technical assistance if the government and the management committee deem it necessary. A probe committee formed by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, and high priests including Rajguru Pushpa Ratna Bajracharya and Swayambhu's main priest Najarman Thakali entered the temple today after performing chhyama puja, the ritual necessary before entering the temple, as prescribed by tradition. This is the first time anyone has entered the temple in 30 years. The main icon inside the temple is still spic and span. On the other hand, many other icons of historical value have been reduced to a cinder. Also debris of burnt bricks and stones has gathered at the temple's base, after considerably eroding its walls.

India To Reduce Number Of Public Holidays

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:48:02 ( 1365 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, August 7, 2003: The Indian government plans to cut down on the number of public holidays. A review, announced yesterday in parliament, will come as some relief to those who argue that urgent steps are needed to raise the productivity of India's civil service. Last year India's 20 million public sector workers were all entitled to 201 days of paid leave. This included holy days from minority religions, including Christianity, the Sikh religion, Buddhism and the Jain religion. It also included a multitude of Hindu (81 per cent of India's population) and Muslim festivals. Government employees were also entitled to sick leave, casual leave, normal holidays and compassionate leave. P.C. Alexander, a member of India's upper parliamentary chamber, said: "Why should Good Friday be a holiday for the 98 per cent of Indians who are not Christians?" However, economic reformers say reducing religious holidays will not be enough to raise public sector productivity even if New Delhi manages to get the plan past the religious lobbies. They point out large numbers of public sector employees have no incentive to work hard because they cannot be fired. India's coalition government is quietly reducing the headcount of the civil service. Three percent of employees retire every year but only 1 percent are replaced. Public sector enterprises have also reduced their payrolls by adopting generous voluntary retirement schemes.

Kerala Wants Coconut Water to Steal Coke, Pepsi Market

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:47:02 ( 1112 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, August 9, 2003: Legislators in Kerala are planning to give tender coconut water a push and steal the fizz from Coco Cola and Pepsi. "With the controversy over the Coca-Cola sludge pollution and reports from Delhi over the presence of toxic elements, we should see that we promote tender coconut in Kerala. This is the best time," said senior Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. This week, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board endorsed a BBC Radio allegation that sludge from a Coca-Cola plant in Kerala contained hazardous elements including cadmium and a leading environmental group in New Delhi claimed that Coke and Pepsi beverages had alarmingly high levels of pesticide residues (both companies refute this latter report). Kerala has for a while been trying to promote tender coconut water, but with little success. "One reason for the failure is practical problems associated with marketing coconut water," said Prayar Gopalakrishnan, a legislator and former chairman of the Kerala State Milk Marketing Association. Legislator Mercy Ravi, wife of Congress leader Vayalar Ravi, felt it would be best to make the drink available in the fresh, raw form. "Any addition of preservative to increase the shelf life could lead to problems like what Coke and Pepsi are facing. As a test case, it would be nice if the Speaker allows the opening of a counter of tender coconut in the assembly. Once this is done, we could open counters at international airports, railway stations and even bus stands," she suggested.

Researcher Requests Assistance with "Contemporary Cultural Sources of the Hindu Heritage: An Illustrated Guide for Young People"

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:46:02 ( 1025 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, August 10, 2003: Ripin Kalra writes, "My research is currently in its proposal stage and is relevant to the Hindu Diaspora. The main objective of the research is to produce a guide for young people who wish to access current sources of the Hindu Heritage and visualize its complexity. The guide is intended to be illustrated and forge essential links between those among the vast diaspora who want to know about the Hindu Heritage and those who are learned and thus project, teach and communicate the Hindu Heritage. Comments are invited from everyone, and in particular community leaders and community institutions, about their views on the scope and expected interest that such a research and guide are likely to generate among their communities. Please contact me at "source" above or Ripin Kalra, Research Fellow, Max Lock Centre, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS, United Kingdom. Cell phone: 00 44 7763 182092. Additional e-mail: ripinkalra@hotmail.com."

Refugees International Reports on Discrimination Against Hindus in Bangladesh

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:49:02 ( 1369 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., August 9, 2003: A US-based human rights organization has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh even though the country has recently taken steps to protect minorities. Refugees International, in its recently published report, alleged that although Bangladesh provides for "freedom of religion," religious minorities "face restrictions in areas such as access to jobs in the government and military." Further, saying that most Bangladeshi Hindus who come to India receive little protection, it asked both Bangladesh and India to deal with the problems in a better manner. Claiming that up to "20,000 Hindus were displaced in recent years" due to communal violence, it asked the Bangladesh government to comply with laws protecting religious minorities and establish an independent body to probe the attacks on Hindus in 2001. It also recommended the Indian government to stop "threatening mass expulsion of Bangladeshis who have come to India whether as refugees or for economic reasons." The report alleged that "despite calls for a full, impartial and independent investigation of the 2001 attacks, the Government of Bangladesh has taken no action to bring to justice the perpetrators." The organization also demanded that property appropriated under the Vested Property Act (VPA) from Hindus be returned to them according to a well defined timetable. "In the absence of a specific date for the return, there is no way to monitor whether the property is being returned," it added.

Bhagavad Gita and Teaching of Buddha Join Bibles in US Hotel Rooms

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:48:02 ( 1045 reads )

Religion Watch

USA, August 9, 2003: The American hotel tradition of placing a Bible in guests' rooms is changing as these establishments broaden their menu of religious reading material to please the new diversity of guests. USA Today (July 10) reports that the Bibles placed in hotel rooms for over a century by the Gideon International ministry has become "an unwitting brand standard" that is being challenged by the desire of some hotels to offer their guests options that range from the Bhagavad-Gita to the Book of Mormon. In deference to the Marriot's founders, these hotels now supplement the Bible with the Book of Mormon. The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism has placed gratis copies of the Teaching of the Buddha in more than 2,300 hotels across the U.S. as part of a program that also includes 53 other countries. Washington, D.C.'s Madison Hotel will reopen with each guestroom having a windowsill decal pointing toward Mecca -- an amenity mainly found in the Middle East.

Vaishnava Monasteries Threatened by Brahmaputra River Erosion

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:47:02 ( 1106 reads )


MANJULI, INDIA, August 7, 2003: An ecological disaster looms over Manjuli, the world's largest river island, located in the Brahmaputra river in India's north-eastern state of Assam. Majuli is rapidly eroding away, threatening the lives of the 150,000 islanders. Environmentalists say Manjuli has shrunk by more than 400 square kilometers in the past three decades, reducing the island to two-thirds its original size. Affected are 22 Vaishnava monasteries. The monasteries act as the centre of Assamese culture with their traditional prayer form, a 500-year-old open air theatrical custom, colorful boat races, classical dances and handicrafts. Members of the monastery say they will have to leave Majuli if erosion continues. There has been proposal to have Majuli declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO, but it could be washed off the map one day.

Coca-Cola India Releases Test Results to Refute Claims of Pesticides in Soft Drinks

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:46:02 ( 1123 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, August 9, 2003: The Coca-Cola Company in India posted test results from the TNO company in The Netherlands which show samples of their products to test within acceptable limits (negative, in nearly all cases) for dozens of pesticides, contrary to results released by a government laboratory in India. The reports are available at their website, "source," above.

Indian Firm Markets Vegetarian Insulin

Posted on 2003/8/8 9:49:02 ( 1267 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 8, 2003: It is estimated that there will be 57 million diabetics in India by 2025. An Indian drug company has launched what it claims is Asia's first vegetarian insulin. The new insulin is derived from yeast, as opposed to pigs or cows, as most insulin in India is at present. The company which has manufactured the drug, Wockhardt, says that this type of insulin will also avoid other viral infections such as BSE and CJD associated with insulin derived from animals. Until now nearly 90% of the insulin available on the Indian market was derived from pigs or cows which are proscribed respectively in the Muslim and Hindu communities.

The Brahmins Who Became Untouchables

Posted on 2003/8/8 9:48:02 ( 5116 reads )


PATNA, INDIA, August 5,2003: The Mahapatra brahmins of Sahupura village in Buxar district of Bihar are finding that they are virtual untouchables in their own land. They perform cremation rituals and their very appearance at a doorstep is considered a bad omen."We used to knock at the door of a house only when there was a death in the house to perform the cremation rituals, so our appearance is regarded as a bad sign," said Ramanand Pandey. But there don't seem to be any major regrets.

Most brahmins in the village said they never encouraged their children to pursue modern studies. Instead of going to school, children start picking up the finer points of their specialised job under the expert tutelage of their elders. At least they don't have to worry about unemployment, community leaders said defending the decision. "The work of performing cremation rituals gives us the guarantee of a job without education. In the neighbouring village, there are many educated upper caste youth who are sitting at home because they have no job," said Madan Pandey.

The brahmins of Sahupura have the advantage of performing the last rites at the famous Ramrekha Ghat on the banks of the Ganges not far from the village. The place is considered auspicious for conducting cremations because the river turns to the north at the spot. Like the famous pandas of Gaya in Bihar, Puri in Orissa and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the brahmins of Sahpura have the right to undertake cremation rituals in a large area spanning about six districts.

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