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Black Belt Priest to Guard Lord Venkateswara

Posted on 2003/7/2 9:48:02 ( 1230 reads )


TIRUPATI, INDIA, July 1, 2003: Since armed guards are forbidden inside the Venkateswara temple, one of India's most revered religious shrines, authorities want to assign its security to a trusted insider, a Hindu priest with a black belt in karate. K. Seshadri has been asked by officials in Tirupati to teach younger priests to defend themselves and the temple from terrorists and other attackers. The temple, which has over 30,000 visitors per day, is reputed to be the world's richest. Security in Hindu temples has been raised since last September's terrorist attack on the Swaminarayan Temple in which 12 people were killed. For this reason, the state government's security adviser has asked Seshadri to train the young priests, who will form an inner ring of protection around the Deity. It is not clear how such trained priests could resist an assault by heavily-armed intruders, who required the Black Cat Commandos, India's top special forces, to neutralize in earlier attacks.

Hindus Flock to Register for Amarnath Pilgrimage

Posted on 2003/7/2 9:47:02 ( 1129 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 1, 2003: About 100,000 Hindus have registered for the annual Amarnath pilgrimage Kashmir, despite the threat of militant attacks. Each year tens of thousands of Hindus from around the world head to Amarnath, located in the foothills of the Himalayas, for a month-long pilgrimage, which this year begins on July 12. The state government has regulated the numbers of pilgrims since 1996, when more than 200 people died because of bad weather. The government is also making elaborate safety arrangements because of the possibility of terrorist attacks. Eight pilgrims were killed and 27 injured last year when rebels attacked a camp, despite heavy security.

Indonesia's Controversial Religious Education Bill

Posted on 2003/7/2 9:46:02 ( 1217 reads )

World Magazine

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, June 28, 2003: Indonesia's parliament on June 11 passed a controversial education bill that requires schools with 10 or more students from any particular religion to provide those students "religious education in their own faith from a teacher of that faith." That stipulation falls heavily on Christian schools. While Christians do not generally send their children to Islamic schools, many Muslims send their children to Christian schools, which have a reputation for superior educational standards. Under the new law, a private Christian school with 10 Muslim students would have to devote its own funds to building a mosque and hiring an Islamic teacher. (Muslim and Hindu schools will have to provide similar programs in their schools.) "That strikes at the heart of religious freedom," says Ann Buwalda, USA director of the Jubilee Campaign, an international advocacy group for persecuted religious minorities. "If it were a public-school matter, I don't think Christians would be concerned. It's the first legislation on a nationwide basis to draw in religious distinctions." The driving force behind the new bill is the second-largest Muslim movement in Indonesia, called Muhammadiyah. Though nonviolent, the group is committed to establishing Islamic foundations throughout society, and education is one of its main vehicles.

Historical Glimpse -- Siva Temple Constructed by Grateful British Army Wife

Posted on 2003/7/2 9:45:02 ( 1594 reads )


MADHYA PRADESH, INDIA, July 2, 2003: Colonel Martin, formerly of the British army, was stationed in India during the 1800's and built a temple in Malwa to Lord Siva in 1883. The story behind the construction goes something like this: the Colonel's wife became very concerned when she no longer was receiving messages from her husband, whom she knew was in a battle in Afghanistan. Out riding one day she saw a temple and inquired what the worshippers were doing. She was told that the people were worshipping Lord Siva. She asked the priest about Siva who followed with a religious discourse on His greatness. Seeing the wife very worried, the priest asked what was the matter and she explained the situation with her husband. The priest suggested she observe the 11-day "Laghu-rudri anusthana" of the mantra "Om Namah Sivaya." The Colonel's wife then vowed she would build a Siva temple if her husband returned safely from the battlefield, and began to observe the anusthana. At the end of the 11 days she received a letter from her husband saying he was safe. After his return home, both began praying regularly to Lord Siva and had the temple constructed. This is the only temple built by an Englishman in India. A photo of the temple may be found at "source" above.

Book Released -- Hinduism and Its Sense of History, by Professor Arvind Sharma

Posted on 2003/7/2 9:44:02 ( 1296 reads )


BOSTON, UNITED STATES, July 1, 2003: During his tenure as the Infinity Foundation Visiting Professor of Indic Studies, Harvard University, Professor Arvind Sharma intensively researched the axiom that Hindus lack a sense of history. He concludes that this unfortunate impression arose out of a conflation between the different concepts of time in Hinduism and must be discarded in the light of the epigrahic, literary and artistic evidence now available. The results of his research is available in a book entitled "Hinduism and Its Sense of History" published by Oxford University Press. Kindly contact "source" above for inquiries regarding the book.

Hindus to Meet With Education Minister Over South African Language Curriculum

Posted on 2003/7/1 9:49:02 ( 1074 reads )


SOUTH AFRICA, June 29, 2003: The South African Hindu Maha Sabha has formed a committee to meet with Education Minister Kader Asmal to discuss the decision to remove Indian languages from the school curriculum. Last week religious and cultural leaders voiced opposition to Asmal's decision to remove Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telegu and Urdu from the syllabus for pupils in Grade 10 to 12 from 2006. The decision to remove 12 of the 18 foreign languages at present being taught in South African schools is part of Asmal's overhaul of the further Education and Training curriculum. "The issue is not about whether or not a language will be 'culled' but about the ability of the government to fund all foreign languages," Asmal said. "The constitution requires that we promote and ensure respect for languages that are commonly used by communities in our country. However, this goal is dependent on the availability of funds." He said the department had found that many foreign languages had very low enrollment rates in Grade 10 to 12. According to the department's figures for the senior certificate examination in 2002, there were 13 candidates for Hindi while Arabic, one of the languages that will be kept, showed an enrollment figure of 661.

Malaysia Hindus Cautioned to Beware of "Quacks"

Posted on 2003/7/1 9:48:02 ( 1081 reads )


PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA, July 1, 2003: Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam called on Hindus not to fall prey to so-called foreign teachers, fake astrologers and quack doctors. "These people come here and set up an office to earn quick money. They urge people to pay hundreds of ringgit just for the so-called blessings," he said during the association's 26th annual general meeting. "Certainly, no teacher can achieve a wondrous result in such a short time. Great sages and rishis of Hinduism gave us the different yogas not for profit but to help devotees in their regular daily life," Vaithilingam said.

Fresh Water Honored in Trinidad and Tobago

Posted on 2003/7/1 9:47:02 ( 1098 reads )


TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, June 5, 2003: As planet Earth faces a reduced supply of fresh water, ceremonies such as Ganga Dhaaraa, which took place on June 15, take on added significance. Representatives from various faiths including American Indian, Christian, Islam and Hindu joined together to honor the coming of Ganga to Earth and the necessity of fresh water on Earth. The event coincided very closely with World Environment Day and supported the UN's environmental theme of fresh water. Religion and science joined together to present seminars with speakers from both communities. Hindus, as well as American Indian traditions, have a rich heritage centered around the importance of fresh water.

Goddess Saraswati Awaits Jaffna Library Opening

Posted on 2003/7/1 9:46:02 ( 1136 reads )


JAFFNA, SRI LANKA, June 27, 2003: Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning is standing guard, a retired school principal is all fired up, the computers are in place and war-weary Jaffna is ready for the reopening of its famous library, more than two decades after it was set it ablaze in 1981. The library, a center of learning and culture, is hugely symbolic for the country's minority Tamil community. The fire destroyed nearly 100,000 Tamil-language books, including rare palm leaf writings. Locals hope its reopening will help heal some of the torment from a civil war that has killed 64,000 people and displaced more than one million. They also hope it will bolster a peace process backed by a 16-month-old ceasefire between Tamil rebels and the Government.

Naidu Government Told "Hands-Off Tirupati Fund"

Posted on 2003/7/1 9:45:02 ( 1127 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 28, 2003: When the cash-strapped Chandrababu Naidu government tried to dip into the funds of the Tirupati-Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD), India's richest shrine with an annual income of over US$108,126,000, they found resistance from temple authorities, employees, religious leaders and political parties. Naidu had recently directed the temple to contribute $16,261,000 to build an infrastructure for the Godavari puskaram -- a mini Kumbha Mela -- beginning next month, as well as an additional $1,084,000 for the golden jubilee festivities of the Venkateswara University. The government met with such opposition they were forced to downsize the request to less than one-half the original amount or face the threat of public agitation if they persisted with their request for funding. The much-respected Tridandi Sriman Narayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeer Swamy has criticized the move as an "unhealthy practice" and said, "The government should explore alternative sources."

Thailand's Khmer Hindu Temples to be a World Heritage Site

Posted on 2003/6/30 9:49:02 ( 1029 reads )


BANGKOK, THAILAND, June 29, 2003: Thailand's Culture Ministry plans to propose the Phanom Rung Historical Park and associated ancient spots for listing as a World Heritage site. A Fine Arts Department official said the decision followed the discovery of an old cultural route linking all the Khmer-style sanctuaries. The official said the department would register the entire area surrounding Phanom Rung Historical Park -- almost 6,900 acres -- as one historical site, to be known as Muang Phanom Rung. In addition to the better known ancient ruins, built in the 12 century by Hindus, Muang Phanom Rung incorporates other historical sites. HPI adds: For more information on these 9th to 14th century Khmer Hindu temples of north eastern Thailand click: here

Singapore Religious Groups Join Charity Drive

Posted on 2003/6/30 9:48:02 ( 1069 reads )


SINGAPORE, JUNE 29, 2003: Several social and religious groups, led by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), are collaborating to raise US$200,000 for this year's President's Challenge. As of this writing, Sinda, the Eurasian Association, Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple and Sri Siva Krishna Hindu Temple are involved in this group effort while other organizations are being actively recruited to help. The President's Challenge, which aims to raise $7 million this year to benefit 45 charities, will be held from August 29 to September 14. Mr. A. Sivalingam, chairman of Sri Siva Krishna Hindu Temple, said he hoped to promote an understanding of Hinduism through the temple's participation in the charity drive.

U.S. Religious Land-Use Law Struck Down

Posted on 2003/6/30 9:47:02 ( 1067 reads )

Charisma News Service

LOS ANGELES, U.S.A., June 30, 2003: In a ruling that could significantly impact land-use issues for all religious congregations nationwide, a Los Angeles district judge this week struck down a federal law that protects churches, synagogues, and temples from attempts by local governments to limit new construction of religious buildings with restrictive zoning and land use regulations. In a case involving Elsinore Christian Center, Stephen Wilson ruled that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) is unconstitutional. The bill had been passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Clinton, the attorney representing ECC noted. "In its opinion, the court said that the city violated RLUIPA, but instead of sticking with that decision, the court decided to declare RLUIPA unconstitutional," he added, and vowed to appeal Wilson's decision to the Supreme Court.

The case goes back to 2001 when EEC sued city officials after the Assemblies of God congregation was denied a permit to move to a commercial building. Citing RLUIPA, the church also alleged violations of its First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and free exercise of religion. The church wanted to buy an old grocery store and move its congregation to the new location. Officials denied the permit, saying that the city would lose sales-tax revenue and downtown residents would lose their only market. As the litigation worked through the courts, the owner sold to another buyer. HPI adds: RLUIPA provided protection for Hindu temples also, in that local governments could not "zone" them out of their area.

How Many Americans Only Eat Their Veggies?

Posted on 2003/6/30 9:46:02 ( 1196 reads )


UNITED STATES, June 30, 2003: In the United States the interest in vegetarian foods has exploded in the last few years, as evidenced by the increased number of vegetarian products now available in stores throughout the country. However, how many people are actually vegetarian? A 2003 Vegetarian Resource Group Harris Interactive survey indicated that 2.8 percent of those surveyed said they never eat meat, poultry, or fish/seafood and over half those vegetarians can be classified as vegans, those who do not consume meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy products, eggs, or honey. Six percent of the population said they never eat meat while ten percent within the 25-34 year age bracket indicated they have a meatless diet. As to how many vegetarians -- the U.S. 2000 census found that there are 209 million people 18 and older in the U.S. If we subtract 4 million institutionalized of all ages, based on 2.8 percent vegetarians, we calculate there are about 5.7 million adult vegetarians in the U.S. For additional statistics on vegetarianism in the United States kindly see "source" above.

The American Divorce Myth

Posted on 2003/6/30 9:45:02 ( 1117 reads )


UNITED STATES, June 27, 2003: For the past 30 years Americans have used the idea that "if divorce is better for you, it will be better for your kids," to justify their increasing recourse to divorce. However, recent evidence indicates that these justifications are illusions. The widespread practice of divorce in this culture has been based on the wishful thinking of adults while its tragic cost has been borne by children. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's "The Divorce Culture" analyzes the history and social significance of divorce.

A troubling picture emerged from studies of larger populations and from tracing the effects on children over time. Even though 80 percent of men and 50 percent of women felt their lives were better after divorce, the effects on children were disastrous. By almost every measure, children in divorced families fared worse: emotional problems, early sexual experimenting, dropping out of school, delinquency, teen pregnancy and drug use. Remarriage was no solution; children in stepfamilies were two to three times more likely than their counterparts to suffer emotional and behavioral problems and twice as likely to have learning problems. Long-term studies by Judith Wallerstein and others argue that the impact of divorce on children is cumulative. Even 15 years after their parents' divorce many children are emotionally troubled and unable to sustain a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Their parents' inability to sustain the relationship that counted most to them and the subsequent loss of connection to their fathers seem to have eroded these young peoples' sense of identity and ability to trust others and commit themselves.

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