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Diwali - Keeping the Light Burning
Posted on 2014/10/21 18:50:00 ( 503 reads )

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GUYANA, October 18, 2014 (Guyana Chronicle, by Cecil Ramkirath): Deepavali (or Diwali), the Festival of Lights, is one of the most enchanting and beautiful festivals that adorn the Hindu calendar. It commemorates the beginning of the Hindu New Year and there is an unmistakable element of fun, laughter, excitement, reunion, and heartfelt felicity associated with the celebration. And why not enjoy and have some fun when the harvest season has ended and the financial books are closed.

Diwali originated in rural India as primarily a harvest festival, a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Diwali is observed in many countries outside of India, and in Guyana and Trinidad, the Hindu community joyfully anticipates the coming of Diwali. The inside and outside of homes are beautifully decorated with diyas (earthen lamps) or candles, and with every passing year, we are literally mesmerized by the spectacularly dazzling display of exquisitely and artistically designed illuminations on motorcades, houses and business premises that seem to outshine the glitter and glamor of Manhattan's Times Square.

Amidst the jubilation and display, we must not lose sight of the strong spiritual current that runs deep in the proper observance of Diwali. Diwali signifies the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. This is the light of spiritual knowledge that comes from the long and arduous journey towards self-realisation. We have to keep the light of knowledge and virtue burning brightly within and bring it forth to the world in good actions and deeds, working vigorously and selflessly to eradicate poverty, violence, exploitation, injustice, hatred and cruelty, fiercely resisting all forms of discrimination, forging friendship and goodwill, and in humble and little ways, bring warmth and joy in the lives we touch.

More of this inspiring essay at "source."

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India's Diwali Festival Lights up Hanoi
Posted on 2014/10/21 18:40:04 ( 373 reads )

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HANOI, VIETNAM, October 19, 2014 (Vietnam Plus): The Indian Embassy and the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam co-organized the Diwali festival in Hanoi on October 18 in a bid to provide the local audience with an insight into the land, people and culture of India.

The event offered an opportunity for Indian people to show their respect for the Goddess Lakshmi - a symbol of happiness, prosperity, beauty and faith in the victory of the fight between good and evil.

During the festival, Hanoians were enthralled by both traditional and modern dances, culinary arts, and interesting experiments about India and its people as well as unique cultural characteristics such as yoga and traditional handicrafts. Especially, India's custom of lighting candles attracted many people.

Diwali, one of the largest festivals in India , has become a regular activity of the Indian community in Vietnam. This year's event was expected to attract more than 1,000 visitors.

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Nataraja Statue Sent to "Idol Centre"
Posted on 2014/10/13 19:00:00 ( 903 reads )


INDIA, September 18, 2014 (The Hindu): Seventy-five-year-old N. Govindarajan of Sripuranthan was almost in tears seeing the panchaloha statue of Lord Nataraja after more than a decade. It was stolen from Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple at Sripuranthan in the district before 2006. A group of villagers from Sripuranthan also waited patiently for hours to get a glimpse of the statue when it was brought to the Jayamkondam Judicial Magistrate Court on Wednesday.

The 1,000-year-old statue, which was recently handed over to India by Australia, was brought from Chennai and produced before Magistrate S. Muthumurugan. Weighing about 330 lbs. and standing about five feet in height, the statue was neatly packed in a wooden box and brought in a police truck with tight security.

Measurements were taken in the presence of the Magistrate by the personnel of the Statue Wing CID of State police investigating the statues-theft cases at the Sripuranthan and Suthamalli temples. The Statue Wing police filed a petition seeking the court's permission to keep it in safe custody at the government "Idol Centre" in Kumbakonam.

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Dharma Festival in the Royal Garden on August 30
Posted on 2014/10/13 18:53:44 ( 795 reads )

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SWEDEN, September 18, 2014 (source): I was just passing by the Kings Garden on August 30 and saw a wonderfully ornate scene surrounding the garden pool. It was my longtime friends "young Swedish Dharmis and Ashavaner ([Zoroastrians]" in Stockholm, who had organized a festival to demonstrate how Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian religions operate in the world.

"Dharma" is a concept in several Indian thought systems, with varying significance. It is about the religious, ritual, secular and economic duties under the Vedas, which is famous age-old Indian scriptures.

The Royal Garden was bustling with people in colorful costumes on this sunny day and the program was impressive. A "Sanatana Dharmish" (a Hindu fire ceremony, known as the Ganga Arti) for "World Peace and Non-violence" and for a more equitable society was done on the steps of the long garden pool which had been consecrated with a few drops of Himalayan water from the Ganges in India! Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Zoroastrian chants for world peace were made and ten women blew the conch shells before and after the ceremony.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/10/13 18:53:38 ( 793 reads )

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Whatever defect I have in my sight, in my heart or mind, may God amend! May he, the Protector of the world, bless us!
-- Yajur Veda 36.2

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Former Army Chaplain Now Heads Hindu Ministry at Georgetown
Posted on 2014/10/12 18:16:08 ( 867 reads )

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WASHINGTON, U.S., October 7, 2014 (Military.com): Georgetown has hired its first Hindu chaplain, Pratima Dharm, who recently retired as the first Hindu chaplain in the U.S. Army. Dharm, who began her role at Georgetown Oct. 1 in the university's Office of Campus Ministry, has served on Army bases and hospitals around the world, including a year-long deployment in Iraq.

While serving as a captain in the Army, she was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for organizing and leading numerous humanitarian aid missions for Kurdish Iraqis. "War can dehumanize you and I was watching the dehumanization of my soldiers, so I was fighting to give them a sense of family," says Dharm, who began her stint with the Army in 2006. "Army ministry has touched me so deeply and it has made me a better chaplain and a better human being."

A native of Mumbai, she came to the United States in March 2001. Dharm is trained in the Vaishnav Hindu tradition in India and is endorsed by Chinmaya Mission West, Palo Alto, California. At Georgetown, Dharm says she will lead the weekly Hindu pujas or prayer services, now attended by about 100 students, look at programs that could better Hindu education on campus and work closely with other religious groups on campus.

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Immigrant Keeps Suicide Watch Over Fellow Refugees From Bhutan
Posted on 2014/10/12 18:16:02 ( 821 reads )

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PORTLAND, OREGON, October 8, 2014 (LA Times): Since Som Subedi joined Lutheran Community Services in 2010, the 33-year-old has attended to Portland's Bhutanese immigrants. He meets them at the airport, giving them a $100 bill, telling them: "Here, this is to get you started. But remember, money doesn't grow on trees." He helps them find shelter and introduces them to other Bhutanese to alleviate the shock of a new homeland.

Subedi and other members of the Hindu minority in Bhutan were banished by the king of their Himalayan mountain kingdom in an ethnic cleansing that began a quarter-century ago. Since then, tens of thousands of Bhutanese have moved to refugee camps across neighboring Nepal. Subedi spent two decades there, before the U.S. agreed in 2008 to accept 60,000 Bhutanese immigrants, and several other nations agreed to accept a like number.

Six years after his arrival, Subedi has fashioned a life here. But his own success is not enough; Subedi visits other Bhutanese to help them make it too. He serves as a one-man switchboard, counseling his countrymen enduring isolation and financial hardship

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/10/12 18:15:56 ( 617 reads )

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When I came out of the spacecraft (Discovery) for a space walk, I had this feeling that Ganesha was looking over me.
-- Sunita Williams, astronaut, the second Indian-American to orbit the Earth

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Read Hinduism Today's 1995 Story on Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Kailash Satyarthi
Posted on 2014/10/11 17:47:40 ( 1053 reads )

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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 1995 (by Rajiv Malik): Note: Hinduism Today did a lengthy article on Kailash Satyarthi and his work nearly 20 years ago. Following is a summary. The full article can be accessed as "source" above. This was, btw, only the second article done for the magazine by our now long-time Indian correspondent, Rajiv Malik, one which required him to go undercover as he investigated companies using child labor.

All the religions of the world unequivocally recognize children as the most marvelous of God's creations. Yet the painful truth is that about 200 million children continue to languish in workplaces all over the globe. India alone accounts for a whopping 55 million-80% Hindus, and nearly all lower caste. The main industries employing children, some as young as four, are farming, stone quarries, construction, carpet weaving, glass making, match and fireworks, handloom, gem polishing and lock assembly. All are known to damage the health of children, causing lung, eye and skin diseases. Explosions in match and fireworks factories have killed and injured many. Such employment is in open violation of Article 32 of the UN Convention, "The Rights of the Child," which protects children from work "likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or be harmful to the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development."

Kailash Satyarthi, Chairman of the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude, is one of the leading activists struggling for the betterment of working children and the rescue and release of bonded child labor. According to him, a rough count of the number of working children below age 14 (the legal limit) in India is 110 to 120 million. However, half this number is classified as assisting their parents or relatives. The rest are children whose parents feel forced to put to work.

It was a first-hand experience that set Kailash Satyarthi on his life's mission. "Near my house," he relates, "there was a small shop of a shoemaker. I was young. All the children I knew went to school, except the shoemaker's son. One day I approached the boy's father and asked him why he was not sending his son to school. The cobbler explained to me that as he was poor he could not afford his son's going to school. Now this incident touched me a lot. Somewhere in my heart I decided then and there that I was going to work for the betterment of such children who are deprived of their childhood due to poverty, illiteracy and other such reasons. I went on to become an electrical engineer, but I was dissatisfied. In 1980 I quit and dedicated myself fully to this mission-abolition of child labor from India."

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Is Varanasi Older Than Its Known History?
Posted on 2014/10/11 17:47:33 ( 848 reads )

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VARANASI, INDIA February 6, 2014 (Times of India): Is Varanasi older than its known history? In an effort to find an answer to this vexed question, a group of archeologists led by former professor of archeology at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Prof. Vidula Jayaswal is busy "unearthing the antiquity" of this city through excavations at the ASI protected site at Rajghat with help from the Archaeological Survey of India.

"Based on archaeological remains unearthed at the Kashi-Rajghat area about four decades ago, findings had suggested that the city was inhabited around the 9th century BC. But our venture aims at finding answers to a number of questions like how old is Varanasi actually? What are the factors which helped this city to survive till today -- particularly when other old cities on the banks of the Ganga died out? The news excavations could push the date back by several centuries," Vidula told TOI on Wednesday.

"We are digging the earth in 5X5 meter blocks till a depth of 5-6 meters to find out archeological remains," she said. Based on the earlier findings, the ASI records say that the site of Rajghat perhaps represents the ancient Kashi. This area has been one of the oldest settlement sites and still possesses natural groves and old remains. This mound was excavated by BHU and from 1960 to 1969 and a trial trench was dug in 1957. The excavation carried out at Rajghat brought to light artifacts dating back to 8th century BC to 18th century AD.

More at "source."

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CCB Nabs Antique Smugglers, Finds Three Statues of Chola Era
Posted on 2014/10/11 17:47:27 ( 680 reads )

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INDIA, October 4, 2014 (The Hindu): The Central Crime Branch (CCB) arrested three persons and busted a smuggling racket on Saturday. Sleuths recovered three statues said to be from the Chola era that are estimated to be worth over US$5.2 million from the trio.

The arrested are from Mumbai in Maharashtra and Belgaum. They were caught red-handed while waiting to deliver the statues to a client.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Hemanth Nimbalkar said that the three statues -- one of Nataraja and two dancers -- are made of Pancha Loha (an alloy of five metals). He said that based on the stance depicted in the statue, they were able to ascertain that they belong to the Chola era.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/10/11 17:47:20 ( 687 reads )

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When the fundamentalists of any religion teach an unrelenting duality based on good and evil, man and nature or God and Devil, this creates friends and enemies. This belief is a sacrilege to Hindus, because they know that the attitudes which are the by-product are totally dualistic, and for good to triumph over that which is alien or evil, it must kill out that which is considered to be evil. The Hindu looks at nothing as intrinsically evil. To him the ground is sacred. The sky is sacred. The sun is sacred. His wife is a Goddess. Her husband is a God. Their children are devas. Their home is a shrine.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

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Pilgrims Stuck in Near Two-Day Queues at Tirupati
Posted on 2014/10/5 17:23:50 ( 1008 reads )

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TIRUMALA, ANDRA PRADESH, INDIA, October 5, 2014 (Deccan Chronicle): With the holiday pilgrim crowd continuing to throng the Tirumala hill shrine on Saturday, a stampede-like situation developed in the queue lines giving tense moments to officials of the TTD. They rushed to the Vaikuntam Q complex to get the situation under control. With absolutely no respite from the heavy influx of devotees due to a string of holidays, the serpentine queues became the order of the day even to get into the Vaikuntam Q complex, at the Kalyanakatta, Annadanam complex, laddu counters and at the reception counters.

However, the alert staff and the vigilance sleuths who realised that the situation was getting worse, tried to stop the devotees and helped them by shifting them to the TTD-run Aswini hospital for first aid with the help of ambulances.

Meanwhile, TTD JEO Mr K.S. Sreenivasa Raju, who rushed to the spot on learning about the developments in the queue lines, decided to immediately cancel the Divya darshan for devotees trekking up the hills through the pedestrian routes owing to the heavy and unprecedented rush atop the hill shrine already. Mr Sreenivasa Raju also added that from now on the Divya darshan would be cancelled during the weekends if the pilgrim influx is heavy. The JEO asked the officials concerned, besides the vigilance staff and policemen to ensure the situation in the queue lines is closely monitored to prevent any untoward incidents.

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Edinburgh, Scotland, to Enjoy 20th Dussehra Festival
Posted on 2014/10/5 17:23:44 ( 929 reads )

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EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, October 4, 2014 (Edinburgh Evening News): Bagpipes and fiddles will merge with tribal belly dancers and a Bollywood band to celebrate the Capital's 20th Dussehra Festival tomorrow. Around 5000 people are expected to gather for the annual Hindu festival on Calton Hill, which celebrates good conquering evil. Symbolic 25 ft effigies of the demons Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnad will be set alight on top of the hill to commemorate the victory, which took place thousands of years ago.

The burning is the climax of a day full of activities celebrating Dussehra, along with a fireworks display which takes place against the spectacular backdrop of the Edinburgh cityscape. It is one of the largest free independent festivals in Scotland - something its organisers are proud they are able to provide to the residents of Edinburgh and further afield.

This year it features a fantastic cultural programme integrating Scottish and Indian music and dance.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/10/5 17:23:37 ( 901 reads )

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Remain calm, serene, always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along.
-- Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), Founder of Self-Realization Fellowship

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