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New Zealand City Council Told to Think Again on Ash Scattering Restrictions
Posted on 2014/6/7 18:22:52 ( 423 reads )

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, June 6, 2014 (Scoop): Plans to make grieving families seek permission before scattering the ashes of loved ones and charge them for the privilege need to be reconsidered, Labour's Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says. "Auckland Council's proposals seem heavy handed, unnecessary and bureaucratic. There has been insufficient consultation with the public and in particular with ethnic communities before proposing the restrictions. Nor has the council made a solid case for why the restrictions are necessary."

"There are no health considerations because cremations are carried out at 800 degree temperatures and families almost always conduct the scattering of their loved ones ashes with care and consideration. "The last thing we want to impose on grieving families are bureaucratic procedures, long time delays and additional expenses."

"I have also been made aware of another important and unnecessary restriction of preventing more than two people attending the placing of the casket in the cremator. This cuts across Indian Hindu cultural tradition where all the deceased's male children are normally involved."

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Hindu Temple Raid Shows JAIS Meddling With Other Creeds, Interfaith Group Says
Posted on 2014/6/7 18:22:46 ( 622 reads )

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, June 4, 2014 (Malay Mail Online): Selangor Islamic authorities interfered with the affairs of other religions when it raided a Hindu temple to probe a bride-to-be it suspected was Muslim, Malaysia's largest interfaith group said. Jagir Singh, the president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), described the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS)'s actions in this case as "high-handed" and lacking in "understanding."

Last Sunday, JAIS stopped a Hindu wedding ceremony in a Shah Alam temple after it received a tip-off that the 32-year-old bride named Zarena Abdul Majid is a Muslim. Jagir also pointed out that the wedding was not a ceremony to propagate non-Muslim faith to a Muslim and not in breach of the state enactment cited as the basis for the enforcement. He questioned why JAIS had chosen to "barge into a wedding" when the department could have taken action after the ceremony was over.

JAIS maintains that it did not raid the Hindu temple, insisting that it merely conducted a routine check and had followed procedure by summoning Zarena to its headquarters to assist in investigations. Although JAIS said it is investigating the case under Section 10 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment (Selangor) 1995 for insulting or bringing disrepute to Islam, Jagir pointed out that the state law was only applicable to Muslims. According to Schedule 9 of the Federal Constitution, JAIS only has jurisdiction over individuals professing the religion of Islam, but Jagir argued that Zarena has been a practising Hindu since birth and was allegedly converted to Islam illegally.

She has gone to the National Registration Department (NRD) twice -- in 2007 and 2013 -- to change the details of her religious status in her identification card. Yesterday, local daily Harian Metro reported JAIS deputy director Ahmad Zaki Arshad as advising Zarena to appoint a lawyer and apply with the Shariah court to change her name and religious status. But Jagir said the move was not without possible complications. Appearing before the Shariah Court would be akin to Zarena "in fact admitting she's a Muslim," he asserted. Instead, Zarena should go to the civil courts and "apply for a High Court order to say she has always been a practising Hindu," said Jagir, who is also a lawyer.

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JAIS Says Will Discipline Officers if Found Out of Line in Hindu Wedding Storm
Posted on 2014/6/7 18:22:39 ( 406 reads )

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, June 6, 2014 (The Malay Mail): Officers who interrupted a Hindu wedding Sunday will be disciplined if found to have violated its code of conduct, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) said. The state Islamic agency said it is investigating fully the controversy in which its religious enforcers had gatecrashed a marriage ceremony at a Hindu temple in Taman Sri Aman, Petaling Jaya last weekend and taken away the bride who had a Muslim name.

"In a series of top management meetings, officers have been told that they must first notify and get approval from their superiors in JAIS and the state exco before carrying out any enforcement action in religious places outside of Islam," said the statement, issued yesterday. "The Selangor Islamic Religious Department views this matter seriously and will not hesitate to take the necessary action against any officer found guilty and were insubordinate," the statement added.

JAIS' statement came hot on the heels of an order by the Selangor government to help the allegedly Muslim bride, Zarinah Abdul Majid, change her religious status from Muslim to Hindu. Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said JAIS had already been ordered "to assist her in resolving the matter," since she has never been a practising Muslim. Khalid said it was not proper for state religious authorities to have barged in and stopped the wedding ceremony.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/6/7 18:22:33 ( 395 reads )

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All this universe is in the glory of God, of Siva, the God of love. The heads and faces of men are His own, and He is in the hearts of all.
-- Krishna Yajur Veda, Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.11

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Reconstruction Work to Begin at Kedarnath
Posted on 2014/6/3 16:01:23 ( 502 reads )

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DEHRADUN, INDIA, May 31, 2014 (The Hindu): Chief Minister Harish Rawat, on Saturday, said that the first and second phases of reconstruction work shall begin in the Kedarnath Valley in the coming week. Suggesting that the State government would want to make the Char Dham yatra a year-long yatra, Mr. Rawat said that the priest community of the four shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri shall be consulted to change the yatra from six months to the one that continues throughout the year.

Mr. Rawat visited Kedarnath on Friday. On Saturday he addressed the media to present the reconstruction measures that would be taken in Kedarnath Valley. "The Mandakini and the Saraswati rivers that have changed course after the June 2013 deluge, shall be channelized to their original course," he said adding that the Nehru Institute Of Mountaineering (NIM) and the State Irrigation Department would be the agencies responsible for the channelization of the rivers.

Channelization and flood protection works shall be done in the first phase of reconstruction. The Public Works Department and the Irrigation Department shall be the agencies responsible for the flood protection works, he said. Mr. Rawat said, "Two protection walls - an outer wall and an inner wall - shall be built near the Kedarnath shrine. While the outer wall will protect the temple from any floods from the side of the Chorabari glacier, the inner wall will be constructed near the Divya Shila (divine rock), which is a large boulder placed a few metres from the shrine." He suggested that projects like ropeway, electric cars, alternative routes, and betterment of 24 kilometer bridle path to Kedarnath, were being worked on.

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Mexico City's Weekly Outdoor Yoga
Posted on 2014/6/3 16:01:16 ( 579 reads )

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Mexico City, June 1, 2014, (OEM): At exactly 8:30 am, families, couples, young cyclists and children gathered at the fountain of the Glorieta Diana on Paseo de la Reforma to participate in a yoga session outdoors, sponsored by the Government of the Federal District, through the Institute of Sport (Indeporte), held every Sunday as part of the strategy for promoting physical activation since February this year. With breathing exercises and stretching attendees halted en route to join this free class, learned more of this discipline that encompasses exercise of body, mind and contributes to a better state of consciousness and peace.

In today's class government officials attended the city as Government Secretary, Hector Serrano Cortes, who said that in addition to classes, this discipline helps care for other aspects to improve our health, such as food, which in set results in a better quality of life. Guadalupe Villegas Juarez, who moved from the State of Mexico to take part in this session said the Mass Yoga Class "is well taught, especially for people who are beginners, then give instructions slowly."

With actions like this , Paseo Reforma Avenue Sunday has become one of the most successful strategies of city government in physical activation and yoga bet on the overall health of the public, in addition to promoting coexistence.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/6/3 16:01:10 ( 437 reads )

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Like the household fire, devotees seek the glory of the Lord even from afar and enshrine it in their inner chamber for enlightenment. The glory of our Lord is full of splendor, all-illuminative and worthy to be honored in every heart.
-- Rig Veda 7.1.2

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Canada: How Diversity Has Changed the Way We Handle Our Dead
Posted on 2014/6/2 10:30:00 ( 511 reads )

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ONTARIO, CANADA, May 29, 2014 (Caledon Enterprise): When his father died more than 15 years ago, Hindu priest Pandit Roopnauth Sharma took his ashes down to Lake Ontario. Sharma looked around, made sure no one was watching and placed them in the water. “I realized there was a lot that was wrong with that,” recalls the spiritual leader of Mississauga’s Ram Mandir Hindu temple and president of the Hindu Federation. Not having a proper place to scatter the ashes - a sacred ritual for Hindus and Sikhs - was “very stressful and very painful.” That prompted the federation to work with community members, conservation authorities and government officials, resulting in the provincial guidelines of 2009 allowing ashes to be scattered on Ontario’s Crown land and water. Now, the Hindu Federation plans to ask Mississauga and Oakville to erect signs and create designated areas for the scattering of ashes along Lake Ontario. Signs would prevent curious onlookers from asking what’s going on or saying it’s not permitted. Plus, it would alleviate discomfort some Hindu families have. That’s just one of many examples of how the Greater Toronto Area’s ever-evolving demographics are redefining how we handle our dead. Hospitals now allow Buddhists to stay by the bedside of deceased loved ones, chanting prayers to help the spirit leave the body. Interfaith couples can be buried together. And cemetery operators have turned to Feng Shui masters for advice on positioning graves. Years ago this would have been unheard of. But now, a concerted effort is being made to accommodate cultural and religious needs for final disposition in a region that’s among the most ethnically diverse in the world. At Mount Pleasant Group (MPG), funeral homes have units for burning oils and ghee during Hindu services; and they set up a table during Buddhist services for relatives to leave the deceased offerings, such as vegetarian food, fruit and tea. In recent decades, there’s been a steady increase in cremation rates - today it’s about 60 per cent in Ontario. In part, this has been driven by immigration - many Buddhists choose cremation and it’s required of Hindus and Sikhs. Because Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists must witness the cremation, MPG is upgrading its four crematoriums, from small industrial-like spaces to areas that comfortably accommodate large groups. Often, the oldest son — or next of kin — begins the cremation process as tradition stipulates. Much more at source.

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Algorithm Reveals 200 Lost Paintings On Angkor Wat's Ancient Walls
Posted on 2014/6/2 10:30:00 ( 586 reads )

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AUSTRALIA, May 30, 2014 (Gizmodo): Even a building as famous and photographed as Angkor Wat has its secrets. With the help of an image enhancement algorithm, a sharp-eyed rock-art researcher has revealed that unassuming smears of pigment are actually faded drawings. It could be graffiti - or it could be the remnants of a concerted 16th century restoration program. Noel Hidalgo Tan, a rock-art researcher from Australia, was working on an excavation at Angkor Wat in 2010 when bits of the red pigment caught his eye. He took some photos with a bright flash. Then he put his photos through through decorrelation stretch analysis, which exaggerate the color contrast. The technique is commonly used to enhance rock art as well as NASA’s Opportunity Rover’s Martian landscapes. All of a sudden, monkeys, elephants, boats and buildings leapt out from the walls. Tan eventually found 200 of these paintings all over the temple. Most of the paintings appear haphazardly, most likely the handiwork of early pilgrims. But one particular stretch on the highest tier in Angkor Wat’s central tower features elaborate scenes with musical instruments and people on horseback. These scenes may be more deliberate attempts to redecorate the temple when it transitioned from a Hindu temple to a Buddhist pilgrimage site, says Tan.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/6/2 10:28:44 ( 411 reads )

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He who befriends a man whose conduct is vicious, whose vision impure, and who is notoriously crooked, is rapidly ruined.
-- Chanakya (350-275 bce), Indian politician, strategist and writer

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Looted Statues Come Home
Posted on 2014/6/1 18:26:48 ( 472 reads )

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CAMBODIA, May 29, 2014 (Phnom Penh Post): Sandstone figures packed into crates returned to Cambodia yesterday.The Kingdom welcomed the repatriated 11th-century statues with little fanfare, a remarkably placid homecoming given the lengthy legal battle with auction house Sotheby's and the enlivened conversation with a California art museum that led to their return.

"They are Duryodhana and Bhima. One from Sotheby's and another from Norton Simon. They will be transferred first to the Council of Ministers for official reception on June 3 and then transferred to the National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, for restoration and exhibition to [the] public," National Museum director Kong Vireak said. The Duryodhana and the Bhima, which depict opposing Hindu warrior figures that were locked in a mythic battle, were displayed at the Prasat Chen Temple in Siem Reap before being hacked from their pedestals and moved through the antiquities black market in the 1970s.

Over the past three years, Cambodian officials and art researchers have traced seven of the Prasat Chen's nine statues to collections in the US. Last year, the Metropolitan Museum in New York agreed to return two statues pillaged from the temple, the first time a museum collection has voluntarily returned antiquities. At the end of last year, Sotheby's settled an embittered court case, agreeing to pay for the repatriation of a third statue. The Norton Simon Museum in California pitched in a fourth statue, the Bhima, and earlier this month Christie's announced it too would give back a Prasat Chen figure, which is set to return today, according to a government spokesman.

The Denver Art Museum has been quiet about a statue that Cambodian officials claim it holds, and the Cleveland Museum of Art has questioned the provenance claim of the Cambodian Hindu monkey God statue they currently have on exhibit, stating the museum as of yet has no plans to return the figure.

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Maharashtra: Pandharpur Temple Allows Women, Men Of All Castes As Priests
Posted on 2014/6/1 18:26:42 ( 446 reads )

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MAHARASTRA, INDIA, May 23, 2014 (The Hindu, by Amruta Byatnal): TThe temple administration of this 900 year old temple has interviewed women and those from outside the Brahmin community for appointing them as priests. The Vitthal Rukmini Temple Trust (VRTT), which functions under the Maharashtra government, has made the radical move possible. "For the first time, a temple is throwing open its doors to everyone. We thought it was time now for us to set an example. No group should claim monopoly for serving as priests in the temple," Anna Dange, chairman of the trust, told The Hindu. "Thousands of people converge here every year. People love Vitthoba and Rakhumai [as lord Vitthal and his consort Rukmini are called locally]. The Gods did not discriminate between people; it's time we followed suit."

Priesthood of the temple was under the monopoly of the Barve-Utpat families of Pandharpur, which claimed ancestral rights over the institution. The two families used to auction the puja every day. The families paid the auction amount to the trust and kept the donations themselves. A Supreme Court ruling in January stripped the families of the right to appoint priests and keep the donations. The VRTT received 199 applications, 23 from women, for the position of priests. "Eventually 129 people attended the interviews, including 16 women," Sanjay Teli of the trust said. Applications were received from Dalits and Marathas. The trust will make its decision public on June 9.

Urmila Bhate (52), one of the women interviewed, stated that the opportunity to be a priest was a dream come true. "I have grown up in Pandharpur, and I thought this day would never come," she said, speaking of the chance to "serve Rakhu, mother God." Ms Bhate's family has been involved in the temple's activities. "I have watched my brothers perform the puja and I am well versed with the tradition of the temple. It is high time, that women who are equally devoted to Lord Vitthal and Rakhumai, are considered equal to male priests," she stated.

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Foreign-Born Population In The U.S. 2012: India-born Second Only to Mexico-Born
Posted on 2014/6/1 18:26:27 ( 441 reads )

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UNITED STATES, May 30, 2014 (Pew Research): A Pew Research chart of the foreign-born population of the United States as of 2012, lists India in the number two position, behind Mexico, with 1,974,305. This represents 4.8 percent of the foreign-born population. Other countries that may interest readers are:

Trinidad/Tobago: 239,015
Bangladesh: 187,641
Nepal: 77,890
Fiji: 49,063
Bhutan: 32,954

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/6/1 18:26:21 ( 403 reads )

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When the Creator dances, the worlds He created dance. To the measure that He dances in our knowledge, our thoughts, too, dance. When He in heart-endearing dances, the several elements, too, dance. Witness in rapture surpassing the dance of that One who is a glowing flame.
-- Tirumantiram, 2786

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Archeological Survey of India Team Inspects Jagannath Temple for Quake Damage
Posted on 2014/5/30 16:56:57 ( 462 reads )

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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, May 22, 2014 (Telegraph India): An expert team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) today inspected the 12th century Jagannath temple in Puri to find out whether the earthquake that hit the state yesterday had any impact on the temple. The team visited the temple following a magnitude 5.9 earthquake centered 274 km SE of Konarka, India.

Temple administration sources said a team of engineers, led by the deputy archaeological superintending engineer Tapan Bhattacharya, today inspected the temple. "Keeping in mind the vast structure of the temple, it is difficult to find out minor cracks suddenly and the loosening of plasters of the structures at various points. However, the temple is safe at this moment," said a senior official.

According to the ASI report, the structure is standing on the southeast direction from the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the main Jagannath temple in which direction a fault line is suspected as several structures were affected in this direction during earlier earthquakes. "It is advisable to regularly monitor and check for any sign of distress on the temple structure," the report said.

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