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Bali's HIndu New Year , A Day of Silence

Posted on 2019/3/7 10:40:32 ( 658 reads )


BALI, INDONESIA, MARCH 7, 2019 ( Daily Mail): Bali's airport will close for 24 hours, the Internet will be turned off and streets emptied as the predominantly Hindu island in Indonesia observes its New Year with an annual day of silence.The Day of Silence, Nyepi to the Balinese, is a day of reflection and TV and radio broadcasts also stop. Nyepi begins at 6.00 am, clearing beaches and all public spaces of people except for special patrols to ensure silence is observed. For the second year, phone companies will turn off the mobile Internet on the island, home to more than four million people.

Balinese will stay indoors, covering windows and keeping lights off for the day of reflection that is the most sacred in Balinese Hinduism. "A day of silence to mark Saka (Balinese calendar) New Year for us Balinese Hindus is an opportunity to restart life with a pure heart," said Wayan Gota, a hotel manager in Kuta, one of the island's tourist hotspots. "For me, through the ritual of observing thoughts while meditating on Nyepi, in essence I get the opportunity to evaluate my achievements for the past year and rearrange the plan of life for the next year," he said.

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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/3/7 10:40:19 ( 637 reads )


When I look inside and see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I look outside and see I am everything, that is love.
-- Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981), Hindu spiritual teacher

California Board of Education Defeats Claims of Anti-Hindu Bias in Education Standards

Posted on 2019/3/3 11:44:54 ( 740 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, February 28, 2019 (courthousenews.com): California's State Board of Education Thursday defeated a lawsuit claiming it treats Hinduism unfavorably compared to Western religions in its educational standards and curriculum. "A reasonable observer would not view the standards and framework as primarily denigrating Hinduism," U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in his 33-page ruling.
(click to download: http://www.courthousenews.com/wp-cont ... indu-education-ruling.pdf).

Glenn Katon, an Oakland-based attorney representing the plaintiffs, said his clients plan to appeal the ruling, adding he believes it's high time that courts revisit a 48-year-old legal precedent that makes it harder for plaintiffs to prevail in Establishment Clause cases. Under a three-pronged test created in the 1971 Supreme Court ruling Lemon v. Kurtzman, a government policy or law must have a secular purpose, a primary effect that does not promote or inhibit religion, and it must not encourage "excessive entanglement with religion." It's the "primary effect" prong that Katon believes requires reconsideration, given the difficulty of proving that hundreds of pages of educational guidelines have a principal effect of endorsing or disparaging a religion.

Katon represents California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials, a group that promotes the accurate portrayal of Hinduism in schools, and three Hindu parents suing on behalf of their children, who filed their complaint in February 2017. The plaintiffs claim the state Board of Education adopted recommendations from an anti-Hindu group of history teachers called the South Asia Faculty Group when it drafted new education guidelines in July 2016.

But Breyer rejected those claims Thursday, finding the plaintiffs relied on hearsay [used in a technical legal sense] and picked lines from emails out of context to support their contention that the faculty group harbored anti-Hindu bias. The judge also found allegations that the state over-emphasized negative aspects of the caste system and singled out Hinduism as "a contributor to patriarchy" unfounded. The guidelines included language to clarify that the caste system and male-dominated structure were not unique to Hinduism or ancient India, Breyer wrote.

The judge further rejected complaints that the state promotes a "debunked, Orientalist theory" that present-day India and Pakistan were invaded in 1500 B.C. by Aryans, "a tribe of European origin" that "became the creators of Hindu civilization." Because the framework states that another view holds the language was "indigenous to India and spread northward," Breyer found the state did not endorse the disputed Aryan invasion theory. "This language deals with history--contested history, but history all the same," Breyer wrote. "Whether or not there was an influx of Aryans into South Asia in 1500 BCE is appropriately the subject of a history and social science curriculum, and not actually a positive or negative statement about Hinduism."

Because the Supreme Court is currently reviewing whether to alter the 48-year-old legal precedent established in Lemon, Katon predicted "it's entirely possible that by the time we get to the 9th Circuit, there will be a shift in the standards that apply to whether the state violated the Establishment Clause in this case."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/3/3 11:44:39 ( 679 reads )


Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.
-- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Shivarathri Festival Is Rare Astronomical Re-Run After 54 Years

Posted on 2019/3/1 10:33:59 ( 869 reads )


RAMESWARAM, INDIA, February 27, 2019 (Deccan Chronicle): Several hundred thousand pilgrims from different parts of India are expected to congregate in Rameswaram for the coming Shivarathri festival on March 4 this year, as it is a rare occasion with astronomical significance reappearing after 54 years. The Shivarathri Punyakaalam this year is accompanied by the transits of the planets of Guru, Sukran, Rahu and Kethu, and such a phenomenon is occurring as per the Hindu almanac after 54 years, said the chief priest at the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple here, Sri Chandrasekhara Sarma.

"Offering worship to Lord Shiva on this Shivarathri on such an occasion will confer all possible benefits to the devotees," explained Sarma, adding, due to this rare astronomical combination with its astrological implications, a heavy rush of pilgrims, particularly from North India was expected for the festival this year. The 12-day festival, which began on Monday, has lined up special pujas each day and as part of the festivities, the processional Deities of Lord Ramanathaswamy and his consort Parvathavarthini Ambal, were taken in a procession on the four Mada streets around the temple today on the second day. Hundreds of people came out of their houses to have darshan of the Lord.

At Kumbh Mela, UP Eyes Guinness Record for "Largest Parade of Buses"

Posted on 2019/3/1 10:33:46 ( 691 reads )


PRAYAGRAJ, INDIA, February 28, 2019 (NDTV): By rolling out a fleet of 500 buses at the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, the Uttar Pradesh government is eyeing to break an existing Guinness World Record. The record of largest parade of buses is currently held by Abu Dhabi of 390 buses. A 3.6 mile-long convoy of 390 buses had travelled a stretch of 2.5 miles on the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Highway in Abu Dhabi. The record attempt was to celebrate UAE 39th national day.

The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) buses will cover a distance of over 2 miles. The parade of the saffron-colored buses will be held at NH-19, between Sahson toll and Nawabganj toll plaza. "The parade is also to demonstrate the traffic plan which worked very well during the ongoing Kumbh Mela where 3200 acres of land was used for parking of vehicles," Additional Chief Secretary (Information and Tourism) Avaneesh Kumar Awasthi told news agency IANS. According to an official, the parade of 500 buses would be the longest anywhere in the world. A couple of observers from the Guinness Book of World Records will witness the record-making attempt on the route on which buses will run.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/3/1 10:33:32 ( 684 reads )


Hinduism is such a joyous religion, freed of all the mental encumbrances that are prevalent in the various Western faiths. It is freed of the notion of a vengeful God. It is freed of the notion of eternal suffering. It is freed from the notion of original sin. It is freed from the notion of a single spiritual path, a One Way.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001)

The World and Hinduism: 33 Stamps That Depict the Glorious Roots of Hinduism

Posted on 2019/2/27 11:07:44 ( 884 reads )


INDIA, February 24, 2019 (opindia.com): Hinduism and its reach are noticeable in the immediate neighborhood, with a deep influence on Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan & even Burma. However, in South East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam; the influence of Hinduism is even more obvious. Hinduism has also spread to other corners of the world and is followed in many more countries globally.

Across the world, Stamps are used to honor a nation's heroes, momentous events, symbols and culture. Stuck on envelopes, they travel the far reaches of the country as well as across the world and propagate their message. The Hindu Deities have similarly managed to assimilate themselves in the popular culture of many countries and have found a place on the face of many stamps. Country after country expressed pride in their association with the principles, symbols and stories of Hinduism.

Must see collection of very cool stamps issued around the world at "source".

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/2/27 11:07:30 ( 524 reads )


The major way a family person makes spiritual progress is by fulfilling all duties--duties to spouse, duties to children, duties to parents, duties to community. When we fulfill our duties as best we can, we make spiritual progress. We don' have to go anywhere else. We don't have to give up our duties and spend time in a cave.
-- Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami

Hindu Faithful Wash Away Their Impurities During Kumbh Mela Festival

Posted on 2019/2/24 11:39:37 ( 558 reads )


HOUSTON, TEXAS, February 21, 2019 (Houston Chronicle): Gopal Aggarwal recently returned home to Sugar Land from what is the largest faith gathering in the world -- the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage held every three years in India. "Kumbh Mela is a wonderful, big festival of unity," Aggarwal said. "I love it. It's a wonderful blessing." He and his wife, Uma, were among more than 120 million religious devotees who headed to Prayagraj during the 48-day festival to participate in the sacred ritual of bathing in the Ganges River. Aggarwal recalled with wonder how a temporary city basically sprung up inside of Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad. Mystics and devotees alike chanted Vedic mantras, prayed and shared blessings, music and meals.

Gopal Aggarwal has been attending the event since 1989 in one of the four alternating cities where festivities are held, all located on the banks of a river -- Haridwar on the Ganges, Ujjain on the Shipra, Nashik on the Godavari or Prayagraj at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati. Kumbh Mela is held once in each city on rotation every 12 years. The destinations of the pilgrimages are based on astrological positions, as well as spiritual tradition. The 2019 bathing dates began on Jan. 15 and will continue through March 4. Sarath Menon-Chembottil, professor at the University of Houston, specializing in the sociology of religion and the cultural, economic and social consequences of globalization in India, said that being immersed in the water rids individuals of impurities.

More at "source".

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/2/24 11:39:23 ( 600 reads )


The tragedy of human history is that there is decreasing happiness in the midst of increasing comforts.
-- Swami Chinamayananda, (1916-1993)

Stunning Pictures Of Maghi Purnima From Kumbh Mela In Prayagraj

Posted on 2019/2/22 11:08:46 ( 731 reads )


PRAYAGRAJ, INDIA, February 20, 2019 (NDTV): The devotion of pilgrims at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati gave way to some breathtaking pictures from Kumbh Mela on the occasion of Maghi Purnima. The stunning aerial visuals of the holy occasion have been shared by news agency ANI on Twitter. Hundreds of thousands of devotees took a holy dip at Sangam on the auspicious day of Maghi Purnima which marks the end of the month-long penance period of Kalp Wasi pilgrims, known to be the most faithful ones at the Kumbh Mela. They vow to live an austere and minimalist life on the banks of the Ganga for a month.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the heavy rush of people that started arriving in Kumbhnagar since Monday night especially after the Pulwama terror attack of February 14. The officials expect over 10 million devotees to participate in the fifth royal bath of the Kumbh Mela this year. As many as 40 bathing ghats have been prepared to manage the crowd. Though not a shahi snan, or royal bath, Maghi Purnima like Paush Purnima and Maha Shivratri, is called a parv snan and is part of the six important bathing days during the Kumbh. Traditionally on Maghi Purnima, pilgrims today and tomorrow worship Guru Bhrasapati with the belief that Hindu God Gandharva travels from the heavens to Sangam.

More photos at "source".

TTD Announces Mega Budget of $438 Million for Andhra's Tirupati Temple

Posted on 2019/2/22 11:08:32 ( 612 reads )


INDIA, February 20, 2019 (The News Minute): The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the body which oversees the Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala, unveiled a budget of approx. US$438 million for 2019-20 and said that it was expected cash offerings alone to account for $173 million of the total amount. Speaking to reporters, TTD chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav said that according to their estimates, the sale of tickets could fetch around $41 million, while the famed laddu prasadam may help the religious body take in around $38 million. According to the TTD's website, every day on an average, about 300,000 laddus are sold in Tirumala. The sale of hair, which devotees offer to the presiding deity, is another avenue for income for the TTD. The TTD chairman also said that around $88 million would be spent on paying the salaries of the staff who worked in the premises of the temple.

The TTD had approved an annual budget of $401.7 million for 2017-18 and have stated that the temple's earnings during 2018-19 are expected to be around $406.7 million, of which the offerings in temple Hundi are likely to be $162.5 million. During the financial year 2016-17, the TTD said that 26.8 million devotees visited the shrine. As the TTD deals with such a large amount of public money, devotees have contended that there should be more transparency in how the funds are spent by the body.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/2/22 11:08:18 ( 602 reads )


There is a proverb in our language: "If want to be a hunter, I'll hunt the rhinoceros; if I want to be a robber, I'll rob the king's treasury." What is the use of robbing beggars or hunting ants? So if you want to love, love God.
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

Bali Religious Groups Push for a 24-Hour Total Internet Shutdown During Nyepi

Posted on 2019/2/21 10:57:07 ( 580 reads )


BALI, February 20, 2019 (Coconuts): Indonesian Hindu groups are once again urging authorities to cut off Bali's Internet supply during the holy day of Nyepi, which falls on Thursday, March 7, this year. Nyepi, which marks the beginning of the Saka New Year in Bali, is traditionally a time for silence and self reflection, during which work, travel, entertainment, and lighting fires are strictly prohibited. Last year, authorities complied with the requests by blocking mobile Internet data. Although ISPs were allowed to keep operating, they did block social sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

"The purpose of the termination of the Internet is the same as last year; so that Hindus can solemnly carry out Nyepi day," said the chairman of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, Bali, Prof. Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, as quoted in detiknews. Sudiana expressed his belief that, in previous years, the distracting influence of social media had detracted from the true essence of the Balinese Day of Silence. "With no Internet last year, there were almost no defects during Nyepi. Hopefully, with the proposal of the Internet shutdown, the special requirements of Nyepi will be better executed, and the people in Bali will be more calm and peaceful, especially leading up to the 2019 election," he continued. According to a report by Bali Post, the final decision as to whether the island's Internet will be fully suspended has yet to be made.

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