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Millions Flock to Hindu Festival


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:49:02 ( 1695 reads )


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ALLAHABAD, INDIA, January 7, 2001: Pilgrims have begun arriving in the northern Indian town of Allahabad for Hinduism's most important spiritual gathering, which is expected to attract at least 70 million people over the next 42 days. The Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years and sees millions of devotees bathe in the Ganga to purify their sins. The numbers in Allahabad are steadily growing as Tuesday approaches, itself an auspicious bathing day. For many, the bathing has already started, as they immerse themselves in the river, despite the bitter cold. Police posts have been set up and security measures have been drawn up to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.






Saints Protest Land Allotments at Mela


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:48:02 ( 1762 reads )


Source: Free Press Journal, Mumbai





ALLAHABAD, INDIA, December 15, 2000: Saints of various religious orders are upset with the mela administrators, alleging discrimination in allotment of land. They say fake saint committees have been given land, and object to the construction of 5-star facilities for foreigners and VIPS, which they said was against the religious sentiments linked with the Mela. For example, one camp is charging foreigners US$100 per day per person.






Immigrants Bring Religious Devotion to Canada


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:47:02 ( 1821 reads )


Source: Religious New Service





VANCOUVER, CANADA, December 30, 2000: With a multitude of multicultural flavors, Asian immigrants, 50% of whom attend regular religious services, have rescued three of Canada's largest cities. Previous to the wave of immigration, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto were considered places where there was an indifference to, or even of, rejection of religion. Now Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian institutions are flourishing with devotees.






Attempted Burglary at Badrinath Temple


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:46:02 ( 1866 reads )


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DEHRADUN, INDIA, January 5, 2001: ISI agent Ankur Sharma was apprehended by security guards on January 4 after attempting to steal a cherished statue from the sacred shrine of Badrinath. After some resistance, the culprit was handed over to the local authorities.






Uttar Pradesh Government Offers Insurance to Pilgrims


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:45:02 ( 1860 reads )


Source: India Abroad News Service





ALLAHABAD, INDIA, January 2, 2001: Taking precautionary measures for the estimated 70 million devotees who are expected to pilgrimage to the holy "Sangam" at Allahabad, the Uttar Pradesh government is providing insurance coverage. Allahabad commissioner Sada Kant, who has orchestrated the huge event, is reported as saying, "Each of the visitors in the 20- to 60-year age group would be insured for US$ 2,174. Others will get an insurance coverage of US$1,087." Insurance will be paid to the pilgrim's surviving family. The cause of death must be other than natural and occur during the festivities. Sacred dips in the river at Allahabad will start January 9th and end on Maha Sivaratri, February 21st.






Fatwas Ruled Illegal in Bangladesh


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:44:02 ( 1846 reads )


Source: Amnesty International Press Release





January 5, 2001: The Bangladesh High Court made a landmark ruling that fatwas -- religious edicts issued by the Muslim clergy --are illegal. The court also ruled that such edicts, mainly issued against women, must be made punishable by an act of parliament. Usually imposed against women who assert themselves in village family life, dozens of fatwas are issued each year by the rural clergy, who justify their deed in the name of religion. The clergy impose flogging and stoning, and other humiliating punishments, and they are often involved in directly inflicting the punishment. In many cases there is a financial motive involved as fatwas can be a source of income for the local clergy.






Indian History Congress Underway


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:43:02 ( 1712 reads )


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CALCUTTA, INDIA, January 2, 2001: The 61st annual congress of Indian historians has begun in the city of Calcutta. At the opening ceremony the Nobel Laureate and economist, Amartya Sen, said that current "fundamentalist trends" in India threatened its secular traditions. He said that Hindu epics such as Ramayana should not be treated as part of Indian history. A BBC correspondent in the region says Mr. Sen's comments are likely to provoke angry reactions from various Hindu groups.






Vishwa Sangh Shibir Successful Completion in Mumbai


Posted on 2001/1/7 0:42:02 ( 1829 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, January 4, 2001: "All-round progress can be achieved only through adoption of a plan based on Hindu philosophy," said Shri K. S. Sudarshan, Sarasanghchalak (head) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The occasion was the valedictory function of a 5-day long Vishwa Sangh Shibir attended by total of 571 delegates coming from 39 countries. Issues addressed were the liberation and renovation of three temples of significance to the Hindus, and an appeal to NRI-Hindus to work for the people in distress.






Accident at Sabarimala in Kerala


Posted on 2001/1/6 0:49:02 ( 2002 reads )


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PATHANAMTHITTA, KERALA, INDIA, December 25, 2000: A woman pilgrim was killed and 150 others were injured when the iron barricade along the Marakkoottom-Saramkuthi section of the Sabrimala trekking path gave way under crowd pressure. The deceased has been identified as Samrajamma, age 55 of Andhra Pradesh. Sabarimala has been witnessing a high volume of devotees since Sunday morning, and the police personnel stationed along the path were struggling to control the crowd. The line of devotees waiting for darshan in the morning had stretched beyond 4 kms. The police found it difficult to control the crowd of pilgrims trying to squeeze through the crammed barricades. When the iron barricade broke, over 300 pilgrims in line were thrown out into the unprotected forest area. Fire and police personnel rescued all the injured and rushed them to nearby hospitals where many were treated for broken bones, head injuries, and abrasions. The more seriously injured are receiving maximum medical care. The path was closed temporarily, but reopened later in the day. A Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court said all possible steps had been taken to control the crowd.






Conversion an Issue in Gujarat


Posted on 2001/1/6 0:48:02 ( 1798 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 31, 2000: Conversion and reconversion to and from Christianity has been the source of contention between families and neighbors in India's state of Gujarat. However, the holiday season passed with no violent incidences among the tribals where the clashes between Hindus and those converted to Christianity are most predominant. Receiving lots of encouragement from its citizens, the government may introduce legislation on the conversion issue.






Motive of Conversion Questioned by Dalai Lama


Posted on 2001/1/6 0:47:02 ( 1656 reads )


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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, December 31, 2000: Well respected Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, spoke candidly about the issue of conversion. He is reported as telling the Swiss weekly "Dimanche," "Above all, let us not try to convert one another." This was in response to the flourishing of Buddhism in Europe and proselytizing by Christians in Asia. The Dalai Lama also elaborates by expressing that conversion should take place only after deep inner reflection and philosophical study so that the new convert is dedicated to his adopted faith.






Teenage Virginity Pledges Prove Effective


Posted on 2001/1/6 0:46:02 ( 1709 reads )


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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 3, 2001: According to a recent study, teenagers who take virginity pledges, promising to abstain from sex until marriage, often delay intercourse significantly longer than those who do not make a public commitment to chastity. The study, financed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, analyzed the answers of 6,800 students from 141 schools to a range of questions. The study is the first to provide strong data that shows that pledges do make a difference. When researchers controlled for characteristics associated with delaying sexual intercourse, they found that those who had taken chastity pledges delayed sex about 18 months longer than virgins who had never taken a pledge. The report found that the pledges did not hold when only one teenager took them but required the support of like-minded classmates. That is because taking a public stand on turning down sex offers teens an identity, much the way joining a club does. The pledges seemed more effective with 15 and 16-year-olds, and least effective with 18-year-olds. Tamara Kreinen, president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said half the country's teenagers had sex by the time they graduated high school.






Russian Mythology May be Rooted in Vedic Culture


Posted on 2001/1/5 0:49:02 ( 585 reads )


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MOSCOW, RUSSIA, December 30, 2000: The mythological Grandfather Frost rooted in Indo-European culture delights children during New Year festivities in Russia by delivering presents. According to a Russian scholar, Grandfather Frost as the dear old man will be shedding his mask to reveal his true identity as Varuna, the Hindu Vedic God of the Seas. This revelation is expected to take place in the year 2003 marking the age of Aquarius. The Moscow government has provided funds to build two homes for the deity and his consort, the Snow Maiden. Parties, craft exhibitions and contests will be hosted at these wonderlands for the children of Russia.






New Delhi Government Clamps Down on Smoking


Posted on 2001/1/5 0:48:02 ( 1675 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 30, 2000: With one life every ten seconds being claimed by fatal diseases such as lung cancer and chronic bronchitis, the Delhi government has decided to forbid the sale of tobacco products to youth under the age of 18 years. It is hoped that the new law will curb the wide-spread use of the habit which captures 5,500 new victims every day. Most of these new smokers are adolescents and children, some as young as ten years of age. Merchants and vendors are deterred from making sales to minors by the consequence of heavy fines or even imprisonment. See also www.timesofindia.com/today/01indi25.htm






Ban on Bangles and Bindis


Posted on 2001/1/5 0:47:02 ( 1644 reads )


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ORISSA, INDIA: Hindu girls are forced to tuck their bangles and bindis into their school satchels before entering the premises of St. Mary's Convent to attend school. Individuals have protested against the ban, including the mother of a young girl who said her daughter was beaten for wearing the traditional Hindu women's attire to school. The state chief of one Hindu group, Subash Chouban, has called the prohibition, "An act against Hinduism." However, no action has been taken against the school about the allegations as many individuals fear their children's expulsion from the well-respected convent that has a good educational record. Also school management will not bend long enforced rules.




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