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Conversion Will Not Stop Prejudice Against Dalits

Posted on 2003/5/24 9:47:02 ( 736 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 4, 2003: Former BJP president, Bangaru Laxman, taking issue with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for her threat to convert to Buddhism, said that conversion was no cure-all for the problems of Dalits ("untouchables"). Laxman, the first Dalit president of the BJP, said the Dalits, instead of adopting an escapist approach, should fight for their honorable place in Hindu society. "For me, neither pity nor an escape would do. I would not give up my faith. I would rather strive for an honorable place within Hindu society." He said he would suggest to Mayawati to launch a program to make every Dalit of UP well educated. "Once a Dalit is educated, he would not settle down for anything short of what is due him." He said that he fully agreed with Mayawati when she talked of Dalits still not being allowed in temples. "This practice, even though alien to big cities, is still continuing in the countryside," he said. However, he pointed out, if conversion could put an end to it, untouchability would have ended long ago. Laxman said Dalits, after converting to Christianity, had to make do with separate churches, or endure segregated areas within the churces all over South India.

Theater Scene Change Gives More Respect to Lord Ganesha

Posted on 2003/5/24 9:46:02 ( 766 reads )

Leicester Mercury

LEICESTER, ENGLAND, May 15, 2003: Religious leaders criticized a scene in the Haymarket Theater's production of "Bollywood Jane" in which a statue of Lord Ganesha is thrown to the floor. On Monday, the play's production staff met to discuss how the scene could be altered and made adjustments to the scene so the statue is not thrown on the floor. Rashmi Joshi, secretary of the Hindu temple in St. Barnabas Road, Leicester, saw the revised scene. He said, "We were very pleased with what they had done, and I'm glad they took our complaints on board."

Jagannath Temple Staff Suffer Health Problems

Posted on 2003/5/24 9:45:02 ( 731 reads )


BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, May 21, 2003: A recent health camp, held for sevayats (staff) and their families, revealed that most of the sevayats of Puri's Jagannath temple suffer from neurological ailments. Of over 300 sevayats examined, 70 percent had neurological problems that came from frequent climbing of temple stairs and carrying temple food pots on their shoulders. They also suffered from cardiac and skin ailments, which were linked to their food habits, managing director of Kalinga Hospital S. Ramesh Babu said. Senior neurologist Dr. A.K. Mohapatra said the sevayats' lifestyle meant excessive physical strain and that had affected their nervous system, while addiction to bhang (marijuana) accelerated the damage to the systems. "Sevayats start very young -- often in their teens. They do not get adequate time to develop their internal system for the continuous physical exercises," Mohapatra said.

England's New Inflatable Church

Posted on 2003/5/24 9:44:02 ( 768 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, May 13, 2003: Love is in the air thanks to Portsmouth inventor Mike Gill and his inflatable church. The life-sized house of God has an altar, steeple, organ, and room for 100 guests. It's available for weddings anywhere in the country. The world's one and only inflatable church is here to allow couples to get married wherever their hearts desire. The air-filled building is 47 feet long by 25 feet wide and 47 feet high, complete with plastic "stained glass" windows, airbrush artwork which replicates a traditional church and can be assembled in 3 hours. The "walls" of what is really an odd-shaped ballon appear to be a couple of feet thick, which allows a substantial inside space. Current civil ceremonies can only be held in a church, registry office or specially licensed building, however, soon the law will be changed so the person conducting the ceremony will be licensed instead of the location. The "church" fits in a small trailer. The same company also rents out an inflatable pub.

Iowa Hindus Have New Temple

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:49:02 ( 743 reads )


IOWA, U.S.A., May 17, 2003: If you are a Hindu living in Madrid, Iowa, you now have a Hindu temple to worship in. Located right beside the Des Moines River, the new temple will cost US$1.6 million when it is finished. The community at large has accepted the new house of worship as was evidenced when 300 nonmembers visited the temple's open house last month and when two of Madrid's Christian churches sent flowers and welcoming greetings. Jai Seecharran, a Hindu of the congregation says, "There is a lot of curiosity about Hinduism among other religions. We believe that a person has a freedom of practicing their religion." Seecharran also added that the temple is open on weekends but as soon as they have a priest there will be regular temple hours. Suren Gupta, a consulting engineer and co-chair of the temple's board says, "Even with their differences, Hindus have much in common with other faiths. You speak the truth, to help a human being in suffering and in need, to do the right thing, to follow your conscience....things you would have in common in most religions."

A New Tool for Translating Ancient Script for the Internet

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:48:02 ( 807 reads )


NEW YORK, May 15, 2003: Sanskrit is among the world's oldest recorded language, but putting works created over the last 3,000 years onto the Web has not been easy. Documents written in Devanagiri, a compound word whose literal translation means "city of immortals" and whose script is used for Sanskrit and other South Asian languages, can be scanned as images. However, optical character recognition, O.C.R., software for turning Devanagiri texts into digital information that can be searched and reformatted has not been commercially available. In an effort to accelerate the development of O.C.R. software for Devanagiri, the Center of Excellence in Document Analysis and Recognition, or Cedar, at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Indian Statistical Institute are distributing a script-recognition tool that they hope will become the international standard for software that can recognize Devanagiri. Their script-recognition software, which can be downloaded free at www.cedar.buffalo.edu/ILT, can separate lines and individual characters written in the flowing script. It then offers an on-screen transliteration in Roman characters for proofreading.

U.K. Raises Marriage Age to Curb Forced Marriages

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:47:02 ( 818 reads )

Hindustan Times

LONDON, UK, May 14, 2003: The British government has raised the age at which a spouse can be brought to Britain in an attempt to combat forced marriages, mostly taking place in Pakistani and Bangladesh Muslim communities. The Home Secretary, introduced the measure on April 1 without making an announcement. The government has been concerned over the rising number of forced marriages of schoolgirls and the consequent troubles the girls face. Under the new rules, British 16- and 17-year-olds can no longer sponsor a husband or wife from outside the European Union. The minimum age of spouses brought to Britain has also been raised to 18. The Home Office said that the new provision will stop young girls from being pressured into marriages when they are 16 or 17 years old. "At 18 they are more able to resist parental pressure and are likely to be much more confident of their own decisions about whether they want to get married to someone living abroad whom they might never have met."

Californian's Realtors Opt For Diversity Training

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:46:02 ( 813 reads )


SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, May 18, 2003: Manoj Mathai's hunt for his first house could be a lesson to Silicon Valley real estate professionals. A home must have certain qualities to make the native of India happy. The front door must face east because good fortune comes from a rising sun. "In the back of our minds, we Indians are looking for certain things," Mathai said. "We can talk about it, but some agents will still show us homes with entrances that face the wrong way, not realizing how important things like this are to us." To avoid such mistakes, home builders and real estate agents across the Bay Area are increasingly making it a priority to understand the cultural differences that define the valley. The Santa Clara County Association of Realtors recently began issuing certificates to members who attend cultural diversity training courses approved by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. "We are some of the most cultural diverse areas in the country," said Steve G. Delva, of Standard Pacific Homes. "As an industry, we need to take an interest in different cultures, languages, and different attitudes and perceptions." Delva sent 40 employees to a customized cultural awareness seminar focused on customs and beliefs native to the Philippines, China and India, to learn about the importance of home design, cultural taboos and mannerisms unique to the cultures.

Britain May Ban Muslim And Jewish Animal Slaughter Methods

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:45:02 ( 839 reads )


LONDON, U.K., May 17, 2003: The British Government appears ready to ban the slaughter of animals without stunning them. This would affect the supply of halal meat (animals that are slaughtered according to the Islamic sharia law.) For the last few years, authorities have gone out of their way to accommodate the request by the Muslim community to provide only halal meat for Muslim students in schools and even for Muslim convicts serving jail sentences. Under a new proposal to be put forward next month, Jewish and Muslim communities would lose the legal right to slaughter animals without stunning them. The communities have reacted angrily saying that such a ban would end thousands of years of religious rites. Under the European Union animal welfare regulations, all farm animals must be stunned before slaughter, unless they are killed by religious methods as halal for Muslims and schechita for Jews. Both methods involve religiously trained slaughter men using sharp knives to cut throats and let the animal bleed to death. The Farm Animal Welfare Council, appointed and funded by the government, has concluded a study that finds Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter inhumane because it takes two minutes or more for the animal to lose consciousness.

India's Women Begin Wearing Pants to Work

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:44:02 ( 727 reads )


NEW DELHI, May 18, 2003: India's working women are all set for an outfit conversion. Though the salwar kameez remains their most-preferred work wear, a strong urge for a shift to Western attire has placed them on the brink of change, according to the responses of 891 participants. Most respondents said they would put on Western wear for the office, but various reasons hold them back from giving up their Indian dresses, according to the fashion trade magazine "Images." Ethnic salwar kameez, the study claimed, accounted for more than one-third of the total office attire, while the salwar kameez, the sari and the Indo-Western kurta constituted little less than half of the work wear in practice in India. "About 17.5 per cent of working women are therefore on the verge of conversion to Western wear, but may have temporarily held back for various reasons," it claimed. A dignified look is the top consideration for the Indian woman while selecting office wear at a retail counter and comfort is secondary followed by exclusivity, feminine touch and sexy looks in that order, the study showed. But the typical Indian love for customs and traditions does not seem to be slipping into oblivion as preference for ethnic wear appeared exceptionally strong -- around 90 percent during festivals and family occasions.

Arrests Follow South Indian Village Killings

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:43:02 ( 732 reads )


CALICUT, INDIA, May 4, 2003: More than 60 people are under arrest in a south Indian fishing village, after nine fishermen were killed and more than 20 people injured. The victims who died in the attack in the state of Kerala, were all Hindus. Marad had been tense since January last year, when five people, including four Muslims, died in communal violence. The Kerala coast has a volatile mix of Muslim, Hindu and Christian fishing communities, most very poor and living very close to one another. Competition between them is heightened by dwindling fish stocks, and they no longer share the same boats.

Ride the Tirukkural Express

Posted on 2003/5/21 9:42:02 ( 1019 reads )

The Hindu

CHENNAI, INDIA, October 19, 2002: There is a train called the Tirukkural Express with weekly routes between Hazarat Nizamuddin to Kanyakumari and back. The Tirukkural is a 2,200-year-old South Indian Dravidian classic on ethical living. Its 1,330 verses were written by a Tamil weaver sage name Tiruvalluvar. Tiru means "holy" or "sacred," and kural describes a brief verse or literary couplet.

Chicago Suburb Home to New Swaminarayan Temple

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:49:02 ( 771 reads )


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, May 17, 2003: Another Hindu temple of grandiose proportions is being built in the U.S. just outside Chicago in Bartlett. Supported by the Swaminarayan Sect (BSS) of the Gujarat community, US$30 million will be spent to erect the temple of Italian marble and Turkish limestone. Spreading over 100,000 square feet, the complex will be built in traditional Indian style with sanctums for Lords Siva, Ram, Krishna, Ganesha and Lord Swaminarayan. Marble craftsmen numbering 450 have already started work carving 108 pillars in Rajasthan. The Swaminarayan sect has already built around 450 temples in 45 countries in the last 100 years. Born in 1781, Lord Swaminarayan started the reformed Hinduism that the sect adheres to.

Violence Intended to Stop Dalits Worshipping at Temples

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:48:02 ( 731 reads )


KOLHAPUR, INDIA, May 14, 2003: A Dalit ("untouchable") movement to allow entry into temples in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra has taken a bloody turn with the upper castes resorting to violence against it. Earlier, upper caste community members had tried ostracizing and threatening Dalit Mahasangh, the group spearheading the movement. The Mahasangh is active in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts. Yesterday, upper caste members pelted stones and blocked roads when a Dalit group was returning after a visit to the Basweshwara temple at Hitni, a village in Kolhapur district. A violent mob also set afire the tehsildar's jeep and two police motorbikes and pelted stones at police on duty. Police took 30 villagers into custody who were later released on bail. The mob turned violent when police led the Dalit activists to safety after their temple visit. Later in the evening, the Dalit community at Gadhinglaj arranged a protest against the violence. The row began when the Dalit community from Madyal in Kolhapur entered the Somlinga temple in the village on Ambedkar Jayanti. Villagers said they are not against temple entrance, but "outsider" Dalits are creating tension. Superintendent of Police R.K. Padmanabhan claimed that police had controlled the situation in Hitni. The Republican Party of India today submitted a memorandum to the district collector and the SP and demanded strict action against those involved in prohibiting Dalits from entering temples.

Ancient Andra Temples to Receive Face Lift

Posted on 2003/5/20 9:47:02 ( 817 reads )


ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA, May 12, 2003: Recognizing the need, the Andhra Pradesh government is allocating US$810,000 to restore ancient temples in the state. Minister for Endowments D. Sivaramaraju says, "The state government has decided to provide more facilities for visitors and devotees." At a recent visit to the Swamy Temple, atop Durgamalleswara hill, gold gopurams were installed and the temple grounds will soon have 500 cottages to accommodate pilgrims. The plans were similar to ones already implemented at the Tirumala temple.

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