Plant-Based Diet Works its Wonders in Beef-Eating Texas

KNOWN FOR A LONG-HELD tradition of cowboys, cattle ranching and meat-eating, Texas is not easily thought of as being fertile ground for an innovative medical movement which calls for banning the beef.

Staton Awtrey is a cardiac ­surgeon at Midland Memorial Hospital located in the heart of oil and cattle country in West Texas. He’s now prescribing to his cardiac patients a plant-based diet consisting of vegetables, fruits and legumes, but no animal products or junk food. He himself follows just such a program and has seen dra­matic improvements to his heath.

He shared testimony of the diet’s efficacy in the life of a married couple with whom he worked. “The husband of this couple had suffered from GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux). He was morbidly obese, hypertensive, pre-diabetic, suffering from sleep apnea and migraine headaches. This couple used food as medicine. The result: all of his biometrics stabilized. He had been on four hypertensive meds and is now down to two, hoping to soon be off of all. He’s lost 60 pounds and no longer has GERD. He hasn’t had a migraine headache for 18 months, and is no longer pre-diabetic. His whole being is tremendously improved from nothing more than changing what he eats.”


Plants over pills: Awtrey says treating disease by healthy changes in diet is entering mainstream medicine in a major way

Awtrey is part of The Plantrician Project, a network of medical professionals dedicated to plant-based food education.


Banda Aceh’s Hindu Temple

HUNDREDS OF HINDUS PILGRIMAGED from neighboring provinces in March to celebrate Panguni Uthiram with the small local Tamil community at Banda Aceh’s sole Hindu temple. The town, located at the northern tip of Indonesia, was devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Most Hindus left after the disaster; the remaining hundred managed to rebuild the temple in 2012 with the help of contributions from Hindus in India and Malaysia.

While Banda Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to be under Sharia law, Hindus are free to offer worship both in private and public. Local Muslim Acehnese even shared in the festive mood, snapping selfies during the main procession.

Celebrations for Panguni Uthiram, the annual festival honoring the marriage of Lord Murugan to Goddess Deivayanai, included pujas in the temple, Deity processions with breaking of coconuts, and various forms of penance, such as carrying kavadi, piercing the cheeks with spears and dancing on swords.


Devotion prevails: Musicians play inside Palani Andawer Temple, recently rebuilt after being destroyed in the 2004 tsunami


Celebrating Diwali in Spain

LAST NOVEMBER, THE SPANISH city of Benalmádena hosted its first official observance of Diwali. The area is home to 500 of Spain’s roughly 30,000 Hindus. The celebrations were focused in the town of Arroyo de la Miel at the Templo Hindú, which has served the local Hindu population since 2001. Local political figures such as Benalmádena’s Mayor Víctor Navas and the Municipal Mayor José Ortiz showed support by participating in the ceremonies.


Lighting up the streets: Local Hindus displayed their “Feliz Diwali” sign for the first time during last year’s festivities



In India, Caste Is Not Limited To Hindus

EVERY MAJOR RELIGION PRACTICED in India has its own expression of a caste system with individual classes, according to a 2005 survey done by the Indian government’s National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). The NSSO is the largest organization in India conducting regular socio-economic surveys.


Above: This table shows data from 2004-05. The previous survey was done in 1999-2000

A government report based on the NSSO data provides a detailed population estimate of SRCs (Socio-Religious Communities) in all major Indian religions.  Caste affiliation is shown in terms of SCs/STs (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes) and self-reported identification of OBCs (Other Backward Classes) within each religion. Such data is not available from the Indian Census and other surveys.

Among the Hindus, 43% reported OBC status in 2004-05, up from about 38% in 1999-2000. The figures for SCs/STs showed little change, remaining slightly over 31%.

The report notes that the sample size was inadequate to properly separate out the SCs/STs category for Muslims.


Taking Punditry Online

IN THE NEW DELHI SUBURB OF Noida, one temple has set up high-definition cameras and hard drives to record pujas for out-of-town devotees.

Behind this innovation is Saumya Vardhan, the creator of []. She returned to India from London to start her new business in 2013. They offer 150 different pujas, as well as consultation in astrology, numerology and Vastu through certified professionals. The company employs five priests, all with advanced degrees from Hindu religious institutions.

Each month, they conduct hundreds of pujas and consultations, mainly for clients in India but also for those in the US, Europe and the rest of Asia.

“People want to keep traditions alive but no one has time to keep up, especially if you are far away from home,” Vardhan said.


On a call: Pandit Narayan Shastri (front) of [] performs religious rites via Skype for a client living abroad


American Hindu Students Cope with Bigotry in School

THIS PAST MAY, THE HINDU American Foundation released its 2016 “Bullying in American Schools” report. It includes testimonies and data revealing how Hindu American students have been singled out, bullied and ostracized by their peers, largely due to school curricula that reinforce negative and inaccurate stereotypes.

A survey was conducted of 335 Hindu middle and high school students ranging from sixth to twelve grade from five US states over a six-week period in late summer/early fall of 2015. The students were not randomly selected, so this is not a statistical survey, but the answers were still revealing.


Offer love and support: Bullied kids often feel they have no one to turn to. Download the full report at: []

Questions ranged from what is taught about Hinduism in class, to the ways in which kids are ridiculed because of their religion, by fellow students and even teachers, to what sort of measures are taken by the school to address these problems, and what sort of takeaway the students had about Hinduism from their experience in school. Half of those surveyed had experienced social isolation for being Hindu. About a third said they were bullied for simply being Hindu, and one out of eight said their teachers made sarcastic remarks in class about Hinduism while teaching about it. Five percent of participants reported that school staff tried to convert them away from Hinduism. Though the polling was small, the results show a glaring need to improve school environments in regard to bullying.