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Hindus Angry Over Silence Order at Amarnath Cave

Posted on 2018/2/3 19:57:32 ( 1045 reads )


INDIA, January 31, 2018 (UCA News): The federal National Green Tribunal (NGT) decided to maintain its order that pilgrims to Amarnath Shrine remain silent inside the cave, which houses a nine-foot-tall ice pillar considered to be the symbol of Hindu Lord Shiva. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus each year walk the treacherous mountain path to the cave situated at an altitude of 12,756 ft, some 87 miles from Srinagar, capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state. The tribunal's latest order comes in response to a petition filed by Hindu organizations to review its January 2017 order which said the shrine area should be a "silent zone" and banned singing prayers inside the cave. The tribunal said there was no "patent error" in its order which is aimed at protecting the environment as well as the cave shrine, which is a place of faith for millions of Hindus.

However, the judgment was condemned by Hindu organizations. Environmentalists like Shakeel Ahmad Ramsoo, a senior professor of earth sciences at the University of Kashmir, say they do not understand how silence alone will help preserve the ecosystem as several other issues have been overlooked. The tribunal hasn't looked at the issues of soil and water pollution in the region. "One fails to understand how silence can preserve the fragile environment there," Ramsoo told ucanews.com. Nivedita Khandekar, a Delhi-based environmental journalist, said helicopters ferrying people make a powerful noise during take-off and landing that can trigger avalanches but the tribunal has been silent on the issue.

Did You Know That Singapore Is the Most Religiously Diverse Country in the World?

Posted on 2018/2/3 19:57:22 ( 1064 reads )


SINGAPORE , February 2, 2018, (by Prianka Ghosh, The Culture Trip): Singapore prides itself on its religious diversity and tolerance. Considering this as well as the diversity of Singapore's population, it did not come as a huge surprise when a 2014 Pew Research report came out stating that Singapore is the most religiously diverse country in the world. The study, performed by the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC, ranked countries on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most diverse. The study measured the Religious Diversity Index (RDI) based on the percentage of the population who fell into the following categories: Buddhists, Christians, folk religions, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, other religions (considered as a group) and the religiously unaffiliated. Singapore scored 9 on the RDI out of 232 countries in the study.

According to the 2015 Singapore General Household Survey, the city-state is 33% Buddhist, 14% Islamic, 19% Christian, 11% Taoist and 5% Hindu, and 18% claim no religious beliefs (Note: the Pew and Household Survey data do not include non-residents, who make up nearly 20% of the Singapore's population). Singapore also encourages religious diversity by celebrating dates and events significant to each group. Public holidays include everything from Easter to Hari Raya to Diwali, and community associations concurrently organise large-scale events around holidays like Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Puasa, so residents can spend these important days with their loved ones regardless of their beliefs.

HPI note: The Pew survey inexplicably excludes Sikhs, who outnumber Jews globally.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/2/3 19:57:11 ( 1239 reads )


All this universe is in the glory of God, of Siva, the God of love. The heads and faces of men are His own, and He is in the hearts of all.
-- Krishna Yajur Veda, Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.11

Devotees Throng Temples for Thai Poosam

Posted on 2018/2/2 20:01:16 ( 851 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, January 31, 2018 (India Today): Thai Poosam, a key event in the Tamil Shaivite calendar signifying triumph of good over evil was today celebrated in temples across Tamil Nadu. Devotees lined up in huge numbers at the temples of Lord Muruga across the state, including the Vadapalani Sri Murugan temple here, since early morning and offered prayers. Special arrangements were made by authorities to facilitate hassle free darshan for devotees at the six Padai veedu (sacred six abodes of Muruga) temples. The temples include the hill shrines of Palani, Tiruttani and the seashore temple of Tiruchendur, all of which attracted a large number of devotees.

Thai Poosam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai, and on the day of star Poosam, which also happens to be a full moon day. According to spiritual texts, the festival is held to celebrate the victory of Lord Muruga, also known as Karthikeya and Subramanya, over demon Tharakasura. As per Tamil spiritual literature, Lord Muruga hailed as the Tamil war God was given a Vel (spear) to conquer the demon by his mother Goddess Parvathi on Thai Poosam day. Devotees fulfilled their spiritual vows by carrying milk pots and piercing their cheeks with spears. They also carried kavadi.

Nepali Hindus Observe Madhav Narayan Festival

Posted on 2018/2/2 20:01:06 ( 846 reads )


NEPAL, January 30, 2018 (Nepali Sansar): Hindus across Nepal witnessed the celebration of the annual Madhav Narayan festival at Thecho, Lalitpur on January 28, 2018. The festival that begins with the start of full moon in the month of Poush, the ninth month according to Nepali calendar, commenced on January 03, 2018 this year. Devotees take dips in holy waters during the festival as a tribute to Goddess Swasthani. Marking the commencement of the festival, a large number of Hindu devotees thronged at Hanumante River in Bhaktapur on January 03, 2018. As part of a special custom, young boys dressed in traditional attire take part in a long procession around the town with oil lamps on head, hands and shoulders.

The 30-day-long fast is called Brata in Newari and Nepali languages, and only involves a combination of grains used for the festival. Finally, the festival concludes with the Ashwamegha Yagya, where devotees offer prayers to Lord Shiva throughout the night. Also known as the Swasthani Brata Katha festival, the festival usually falls during January-February and ends on the full moon day.

Hindu American Foundation Wants to Know: Have You or Your Children, Age 11-24, Experienced Bullying at School?

Posted on 2018/2/2 20:00:55 ( 601 reads )


WASHINGTON, DC, January 27, 2018 (HAF): Over the last few months, anti-Hindu sentiment has spiked, prompting HAF to gather more data on the prevalence of anti-Hindu bullying in classrooms. This is why we're appealing to you, both as students and as parents of students, to make sure your children take HAF's second nationwide survey on bullying. But this survey can't happen without your help, without everyone's help. Survey data will be collected until March 1, 2018. Some participants may be contacted for a follow up anonymous interview.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/2/2 19:57:45 ( 603 reads )


One must seek the shortest way and the fastest means to get back home--to turn the spark within into a blaze, to be merged in and to identify with that greater fire which ignited the spark.
-- Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri (1885-1961), South Indian Mystic

The Great British Empire Debate

Posted on 2018/1/28 19:20:47 ( 872 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 26, 2018 (New York Books, by Kenan Malik): The sun may have long ago set on the British Empire, but it never seems to set on the debate about the merits of empire. The latest controversy began when the Third World Quarterly, an academic journal known for its radical stance, published a paper by Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University in Oregon, called "The Case for Colonialism." Fifteen of the thirty-four members on the journal's editorial board resigned in protest, while a petition, with more than 10,000 signatories, called for the paper to be retracted. Like all such debates, this latest controversy comprises many threads. Was colonialism good or bad, and for whom, and in what ways? How should one debate these questions in academia, and in politics?

Apologists for colonialism argue that Western powers brought economic development, the rule of law, and liberties to its colonies. According to Gilley, colonialism stressed "the primacy of human lives, universal values, and shared responsibilities" and constituted a "civilizing mission" that "led to improvements in living conditions for most Third World peoples." For many British historians, the British Empire was preeminent in achieving all this. As Niall Ferguson put it in his 2003 book Empire, "no organization in history has done more to promote the free movement of goods, capital and labor than the British Empire.... And no organization has done more to impose Western norms of law, order and governance around the world."

If Britain could transform itself from a backward, undemocratic state into a modern industrial power, why could not any of the nations it colonized have done so, too? One answer might be that the countries that Britain colonized were even more backward than Britain was at the time, and lacked the social and intellectual resources to transform themselves as Britain did. But the reality, at least in some of its colonies, was the opposite. Consider India. At the beginning of eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was 23 percent, as large as all of Europe put together. By the time Britain left India, it had dropped to less than 4 percent. "The reason was simple," argues Shashi Tharoor in his book Inglorious Empire. "India was governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain's rise for two hundred years was financed by its depredations in India." Britain, Tharoor argues, deliberately deindustrialized India, both through the physical destruction of workshops and machinery and the use of tariffs to promote British manufacture and strangle Indian industries.

Much more of this debate at "source" above.

The Good Swastika

Posted on 2018/1/28 19:20:36 ( 802 reads )


UNITED STATES, January 26, 2018 (RNS by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman): I just returned from my first trip to India and Nepal, a soul-stretching pilgrimage that was as much mentally as physically demanding. Along the way, I made my peace with the swastika. Not that swastika, that unrepentant symbol of hate seen most recently on the streets of Charlottesville. No, I'm talking about the original swastika, the ancient Asian swastika, the one you get when you peel away that nasty layer of red and black paint. I saw how, in India, this symbol brings a sense of warmth and protection to tiny village huts, similar to the role played by the mezuzah in Jewish homes. I also saw how it conveys a feeling of grace and order in public art, grand squares and vast temples. In Sanskrit, the word connotes well-being; the four arms symbolize sun, wind, water and soil, the basic elements of existence.

Making peace with the swastika does not mean making peace with Nazis past and present, nor with their hateful ideology -- nor with their corrupted version of that symbol. Rather, it is a statement of defiance to those who so grotesquely distorted an emblem held sacred by half the world.

More of this account at "source" above.

Muruga Song Released for Thai Pusam

SINGAPORE, January 25, 2018: For those wanting to get in the mood for the Thai Pusam festival in a few days, we recommend this YouTube video by our friends Aks and Lakshmi of Eclipse Nirvana and Padmini Chandrashekar singing this upbeat arrangement of the traditional song, "Velava Velava Vel Muruga Vaa Vaa." Filmed at the Sri Murugan Hill Temple of Singapore.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/1/28 19:20:00 ( 785 reads )


The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him--that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

Why Do Hindus Worship "Idols"?

Posted on 2018/1/27 19:44:08 ( 885 reads )


INDIA, December 16, 2017 (Daily O by Devdutt Pattanaik): Who said how a Hindu or any human is supposed to worship the divine? Who made these rules? This question is rooted in Abrahamic myth that frowns upon God being given any form, and the Biblical condemnation of "idolatry" as indicative of a false religion. In the 19th century, as the British became masters of India, Hindus were pressured to defend the practice of idol worship. And so many Hindu reformers went to the extent of saying that "true" Hinduism, in its pristine form (by which they meant Vedas), had no idols. That idol worship is a later-day corruption. However, many Hindu traditionalists rejected this idea.

The tension between giving God form and stripping God of any form is an ancient one. Before the British, it was the Muslim rulers of India who frowned upon idol worship. Their raid on temples, which was mainly for political reasons and economic loot, was justified by stating it was an exercise against infidel idolatry. This influence of Islam led many Hindus to prefer the formless (nirguni, nirakar) divine, over divinity with form (saguni, sakar). So we find some bhakti followers using the name of God to refer to an abstract entity, while others use the names of Rama and Krishna or Kali to refer to a specific deity.

The outsider will see the ritual as "idolatry," whether it is bowing to the image of Jesus hanging on a crucifix, or going around the Kaaba in Mecca, or singing before the menorah, or carrying the Granth Sahib in a palanquin, or dancing to the drum beat of tribal rituals in the forest. But the insider, who is immersed in the act, engages with the larger ideas of life and existence through the tangible vehicles created by his ancestors.

More at "source" above.

Hindu American Foundation Wants to Know: Have You or Your Children, Age 11-24, Experienced Bullying at School?

Posted on 2018/1/27 19:43:58 ( 795 reads )


WASHINGTON, DC, January 27, 2018 (HAF): Bullying isn't just being pushed into a locker or intimidated by students at school. Has your teacher singled you out because of your religious background? Have students made fun of your culture? That, too, can be a form of bullying. If anything like this has happened to you, or even if none of it has, the Hindu American Foundation wants to know. HAF is conducting its second survey on the state of bullying experienced by Hindu students in the United States. The full range of experiences are needed to create an accurate picture. The survey shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. The results of the survey will be published by HAF next year to help prevent religion-based bias and bullying.

You make take the survey at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/1/27 19:43:48 ( 705 reads )


You are here to eat mangoes; not to count the number of leaves in the mango tree.
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886), guru of Swami Vivekananda

How Ramayana Is Playing an Important Role in India's Outreach to Ten ASEAN Countries

Posted on 2018/1/26 19:59:11 ( 885 reads )


INDIA, January 22, 2018 (Swarajya): In the run-up to the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit to be held in New Delhi on the Republic Day (January 26), the on-going Ramayan Festival in the capital has troupes from all ten ASEAN nations - including Muslim majority Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei - taking part in the plays and musicals based in the epic. The Ramayan Festival, a five-day event that began on 20 January, seeks to celebrate Ramayan's place as the shared heritage of the eastern world, reported Outlook. The event is being organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), and will also be held in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kolkata and Ayodhya after the capital.

"Ramayana is a joint heritage of the eastern world in a way. This is the signature epic of this part of the world and its influence is not confined to India boundaries," ICCR head Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said. The heads of state of all ten ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries - Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - are the chief guests for India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi this year. The 10 heads of state will also unveil a set of commemorative stamps on the Ramayana. The summit celebrates 25 years of India's engagement with the grouping of South East Asian nations and the Ramayan festival seeks to celebrate this civilizational link India and the ASEAN nations enjoy.

Temple Readies For Annual Fete

Posted on 2018/1/26 19:59:01 ( 781 reads )


FIJI, January 24, 2018 ( by Waisea Nasokia, Fiji Sun):The annual Vaarshika Thaipoosam Thirunaal Festival in Nadi is expected to attract a bigger turnout this year. The 10-day event for Hindu devotees is set for January 25 to February 4 at the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Thiru Kovil temple. This will be the 92nd edition of the festival. Devasthanam board treasurer Anand Sami Kumar said devotees from around the country and overseas always made themselves available. Mr Kumar said the festival is believed to be a celebration of the victory of good over evil. Devotees offer prayers to Lord Murugan to ensure that the year 2018 gives them prosperity, good health, peace and protection from evil.

Mr Kumar said they were also looking forward to the Mahakumbhabisekam Pooja, which will be hosted from June 14 to 17. "As per in Saiva Agama [Lord Shivas tradition], once in every 12 years we have to perform Mahakumba Abhishekam pooja for the temple," he said. The temple is the largest outside India located in the Southern Hemisphere

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