Global Dharma

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BELGIUM

Brussels Parades Ogoh-Ogoh

SINCE 2011, NYEPI EVENTS have been held in Belgium, as a celebration of the Balinese New Year in late March. The event was first held around the Pairi Daiza Hindu temple in Brugelette and by 2013 was held in Brussels. Nyepi traditionally begins with the bathing of temple Deities. Artful Ogoh-Ogoh (demonic) figures are then created and paraded through the streets and villages to drive away evil spirits.

This year’s event received the support of Bruxelles Bienvenue, the city’s communication and tourism agency in keeping with its goal to organize or support major festive, cultural or sports events. The procession was held in collaboration with the city’s government and police department, who closed roads while four towering Ogoh-Ogoh statues were marched down Main Street. The parade was manned by hundreds of Indonesian citizens, as well as Balinese Hindus from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland and Romania. The event was replete with colorful dancers, cheering crowds and traditional Balinese music, lead by the battering beat of kendhang drums.

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METROBALI.COM

Time to celebrate: Ogoh-Ogoh is carried through the streets of Brussels
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ENVIRONMENT

Meat-Eating’s Large Footprint

RECENT RESEARCH, PUBLISHED in the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the most effective way of mitigating the environmental cost of the American diet is to minimize beef consumption. Lead author Professor Gidon Eshel, from Bard College in New York, told BBC News, “We have a sharp view of the comparative impact that beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs have in terms of land and water use, reactive nitrogen discharge, and greenhouse gas emissions. The overall environmental footprint of beef is particularly large because it combines a low production efficiency with very high volume.”

The study notes that, compared with all other livestock categories, beef production requires about 28 times more land and 11 times more water, while producing 5 times the green house gases and 6 times the amount of nitrogen respectively. Moreover, the study shows that potatoes, rice and wheat only required one sixth of the resources of those other livestock.

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HERNANI LARREA

Feeding our food: Cows can survive on a wide variety of plants, but have an inefficiently low energy conversion from what they eat
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CANADA

Spreading Ashes

I N JUST FIVE YEARS, A DIVERSITY of immigrating cultures have begun to change the way Canadians handle their dead. Not having a place to scatter ashes, Ontario’s Hindu Federation worked with community members, conservation authorities and government officials to create the provincial guidelines of 2009, allowing ashes to be scattered on land and water

According to an article in The Star, Ontario’s funeral services, hospitals and government are adapting to needs of Hindus, Buddhists and others of diverse faiths. With this influx of Hindu tradition—and because of many other practical reasons—cremation rates in the area are up to 60 percent and rising.

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MAIRNEECOTOURS.COM

Back to nature: Flowers and ashes float upon the water
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MEXICO

Government-Sponsored Yoga

IN FEBRUARY OF THIS YEAR, Mexico’s Government of the Federal District chose to sponsor outdoor yoga sessions in Mexico City, through Mexico’s Institute of Sports. The class, which is free to join, is held each Sunday at Paseo de la Reforma, a wide avenue that runs through the heart of the city.

As part of promoting physical activity, government officials hope that the classes will improve the overall health of the public while disseminating the yogic ideals of wholeness and acceptance. These free yoga classes have become one of the most successful parts of the federal fitness campaign. One participant told El Sol de Mexico that “the classes are well taught, especially for beginners, and the atmosphere feels good because of the practice’s peaceful message of coexistence.”

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EL SOL DE MEXICO

Free yoga classes: local regulars and passersby gather on Paseo de la Reforma for the Sunday morning guided classes
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HEALTH

Regenerating Fast

A RECENT STUDY FOUND THAT fasting for at least three days has significantly restorative effects on the body’s immune system. According to an article in Medical News Today, the study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, was conducted by Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California.

Beginning with studies on mice, Longo has now moved on to human trials with similar results. In mice, repeated cycles of 2-4 day fasts over the course of six months killed immune cells that were older and damaged while generating new ones from stem cells. He found that fasting seems to trigger dormant cells in the immune system into an active state of self-renewal. While fasting, the body uses its stored up fat, glucose and ketones while recycling defunct immune cells.

Longo’s study is the first to show that a natural intervention can trigger regeneration of an organ or system through stem cells.

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MIRSOVET.RU

Well worth skipping meals: Fasting for as little as three days triggers the immune system’s cellular regeneration response
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USA

Seattle Temple Opening

ON MAY 13TH, THOUSANDS of Hindus from all across Washington State gathered at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center (HTCC) in Bothell, to witness the murti installation of the area’s newest and largest temple. The installation followed three days of traditional maha kumbhabhishekam (consecration). According to a Seattle Times article, the Hindu population in the Seattle area has been booming, with many Indian software engineers immigrating to the area. Hindus in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties have increased from 20,000 to nearly 60,000 in just 12 years.

Mani Vadari, chairman of the HTCC’s board, said, “This is a 27-year-old dream come true.” Vice chairman, Nitya Niranjan, told The Seattle Times, “When we worship at home, our prayers go to us and our families first. When we worship here, our prayer goes to the universe first. This temple is about loving the universe.” Prasanna Venkateshwara is the first of six more murti’s which HTCC plans to install in the future. The Center has plans to build an even larger Siva temple on adjacent property, which, when complete, will be one of the largest Hindu temples in the US.

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ALAN BERNER/THE SEATTLE TIMES

Murti installation: Milk is poured on the main deity, Prasanna Venkateshwara, carved from black granite in India, before it’s installation at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell. The main priest, Satyanarayana Acharyulu Narayana, left, leads the purification ceremony.
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SCIENCE

Restorative Sandalwood Oil

ACCORDING TO A STUDY AUTHORED by Dr. Hans Hatt of Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, skin cells can sense smell and respond positively to the application of synthetic sandalwood molecules. While it is well known that humans have these olfactory receptors in their nose, this is the first time such receptors have been found in the outermost layer of skin cells.

Dr. Hatt’s research, which was published on July 8 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, shows that when synthetic sandalwood scent is in proximity of these receptors, the receptors trigger a calcium-dependent signal pathway. This pathway ensures a quicker migration of cells to damaged tissue. The activated receptors also caused a 32 percent increase in cell proliferation. Dr. Hatt told Time that this discovery could lead to further research in wound healing and even to applications for cancer, as T-cells—responsible for killing cancer cells—have olfactory receptors as well.

Hatt stated, “I feel a mission to convince my colleagues, and especially clinicians, that this huge family of olfactory receptors plays an important role in cell physiology.” The healing affects of sandalwood oil may be a partial explanation as to why sandalwood is such a sacred substance for Hindus around the world.

USA

Religions by State

A RECENTLY RELEASED REPORT by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, based on information gathered by the 2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study, provides a detailed overview of religious groups throughout the United States. While there are approximately 2.4 million Hindus in the US, the study showed that over 80,000 of them live in the New York area alone. (In fact, 80 percent of all Hindu religious groups are located in large cities.) The study also showed that Hinduism has become the second largest religion in Arizona and Delaware, with populations in many other states growing steadily.

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ASARB

New perspective: In a predominantly Christian nation, this map offers a rare look at the second largest faiths in the US
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LAST JANUARY IN NORTHERN ITALY,
over a thousand Hindus participated in the Shoba Yatra Pego­gnaga. The event, organized by Shri Hari Om Mandir, included traditional plays, music, songs and prayer, with a long parade to Piazza Matteotti, where the festive crowd was greeted by the mayor, Dimitri Melli. Only recently was Hinduism recognized as an official religion in Italy.

ON THE 15TH OF JUNE, IN
Australia, the first North Indian Hindu temple, social welfare center and Indian cultural education institution of its kind opened its doors. Sankat Mochan Kendra will serve Hindus throughout the area.

ACCORDING TO AN ARTICLE IN
The Hindu, a recent UN report stated that New Delhi is now the world’s second largest city, though its 25 million population trails far behind Tokyo’s 36 million inhabitants. Recently, the number of mega cities (those with populations over 10 million) has risen rapidly. While there were ten mega cities in 1990, there are now 28. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega cities.

THERE ARE SOME 5,000 HINDUS
in the German town of Bielefeld, and they now have a new place to worship. The Hindu temple at Am Stebkamp has joined the Kalyana Thiru Murugan temple in Ummeln as a central feature of the area’s Hindu community. The temple’s priest, Sarma Iyer Parameswaran, said that soon the temple would be offering yoga and meditation classes.

IN EARLY JULY, SATGURU BODHINATHA
Veylanswami presided over the installation of a Muruga Deity at the Somnath Spiritual Park temple at Grand Bassin in Mauritius. This initiative of the Sri Skanda Foundation, the Hindu House and the Spiritual Park at Rivière du Rempart saw the participation of a large contingent of devotees and community leaders.

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