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Hindu Press International
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No Extension for Amarnath Pilgrimage
Posted on 2002/7/3 23:49:02 ( 590 reads )


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JAMMU, INDIA, July 4, 2002: Requests for extending the duration of the annual Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage) had been received from many quarters, however Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Girish Chandra Saxena, announced Tuesday the yatra cannot be extended, citing security considerations. "We too would like to extend the yatra by a few days, but the present security environment does not permit us to do so. Maybe once the situation improves we would be able to take a decision in this regard," Saxena said. To minimize problems, yatra permits would be issued from all branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and tourism offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Kokata and Chennai. Saxena, who chairs the yatra board, said the state government has taken steps to ensure tight security during the month-long yatra that begins on July 20 for the expected 150,000 pilgrims. "We have already launched combing operations. We are sanitizing the route and also watching the heights. We would make if difficult for someone who is out to create mischief to sneak in," he said. Pilgrims have been killed in past years by Muslim militants.




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Bhagavat Katha for Benefit of Crematorium Project
Posted on 2002/7/3 23:48:02 ( 876 reads )


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LEICESTER, ENGLAND, July 3, 2002: Bhaarat Welfare Trust announces that "Atma Shanti Katha," a special recitation of the Shrimad Bhagavat Purana by the renowned Pujya Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza (Pujya Bhaishri) will be held from 12 till 21 July, 2002, at Rushey Mead Secondary School, Leicester. The Atma Shanti Katha aims to educate the Hindu public and the wider community of the various important samskaras (rites of passage) of the Hindu faith, especially the final funeral rite -- the Anteem Samskar and to raise awareness of the Shanti Dham project. Shanti Dham proposes to built a crematorium that will cater for ceremonies according to the Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths. "It will be the first of its kind in Europe," says Mr. Kantibhai Unnadkat, Trustee of Bhaarat Welfare Trust, "The entire project will run on a non-profit making basis." With an estimated cost of US$4.5 million, the project is due for completion by summer of 2004. Many other saints will be present at the Katha. For further information, please e-mail: "source" above or call Bhavit Mehta in UK at 07944 371610.




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Cotton Production - Organic or Genetically Engineered?
Posted on 2002/7/3 23:47:02 ( 684 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





INDIA, June 24, 2002: Controversy continues as Indian environmentalists warn that the risks associated with Bt cotton, a genetically engineered version, outweigh the benefits. A study done at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences in China, has suggested that the use of Bt cotton could cause environmental damage, that Bt cotton fields have more pests, and that natural enemies of the bollworm are fewer in Bt cotton fields. Over a time period of 8 to 10 years, bollworm can also develop a resistance to Bt cotton. Farmers in India have proven that organic cotton cultivation is a viable alternative. Agriculture specialists have approached the ministers of environment, agriculture, science, and technology, asking that more studies be done promoting organic cotton growth and that illegal Bt cotton production in India be halted.




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Nepal King Worships at Kali Temple in Kolkata
Posted on 2002/6/30 23:49:02 ( 581 reads )


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KOLKATA, INDIA, June 28, 2002: Unmoved by strong protests from animal rights activists, Nepal's King Gyanendra offered animal sacrifice for the second consecutive day Friday when a goat was slaughtered after his prayers at the historic Kalighat temple here. The slaughter took place after the dignitaries had left the temple premises apparently in a move not to ruffle the feathers of animal activists. The royal couple, who arrived at Kalighat sharp at 9.15 am without their daughter, Princess Prerana Rajya Lakshmi, stayed inside the temple complex for about 15 minutes propitiating Goddess Kali. "The king and the queen, accompanied by Nepalese priest arrived at the temple and offered the puja in the traditional Hindu way. They also touched the diety's feet and prayed for peace in Nepal and India," Mukherjee said. As part of the puja, the royal couple offered the deity a red handloom sari, a matching chunri, glass bangles, flower garlands, joss-sticks and 12 varieties of fruits, Ajoy Banerjee executive member of the temple's Council of Sevaits (priests), said.




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Study Shows that Spanking Has Long-Term Harmful Effects
Posted on 2002/6/30 23:48:02 ( 577 reads )


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NEW YORK, U.S.A., June 25, 2002: Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty, suggests to parents that if their children are acting poorly and they are going to spank them, consider an alternative. She says, " Think of something else to do -- leave the room, count to 10 and come back again." After five years studying 88 studies of corporal punishment since 1938, Gershoff has tracked short and long term effects of spanking on children. Trained as a psychologist, Gershoff concluded from her project that spanking could be correlated with negative behaviors such as aggression, anti-social behavior and mental health problems. In a society where it is illegal to hit an adult, a prisoner or animals, Gershoff finds it ironic that many Americans still feel it is okay to hit young vulnerable children. Even though spanking brings quick response and compliance by children, the long-term effects are detrimental. Children who are spanked still often do not understand right from wrong and many misbehave in the same manner when parents are not around. While the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially taken a stand against corporal punishment, the American Psychological Association still has members that feel that spanking that is not too severe or too frequent can be effective with defiant 2 to 6 year olds. Gershoff says, " Until researchers, clinicians, and parents can definitively demonstrate the presence of positive effects of corporal punishment, including effectiveness in halting future misbehavior, not just the absence of negative effects, we as psychologists can not responsibly recommend its use."




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Why Isn't There More Good News in the News?
Posted on 2002/6/30 23:47:02 ( 549 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 19, 2002: Mark Morford, columnist for SFgate.com, reported that during dreary rush hour traffic on Highway 12, a large, black, gas guzzling SUV slowed down slightly to allow two small cars to merge into the lane ahead of it without the driver feeling the need to blare his horn or swerve angrily or pull out weaponry. In fact the driver smiled and shrugged and hummed and wasn't really bothered in the slightest and arrived to work exactly 1.3 seconds later than he would have, otherwise. Morford then stated, "The above non-event was reported nowhere, because if you are not really incredibly violently angry about something, you are not news." His editorial is a humorous and insightful essay on the fact that good happenings rarely make the news, and that maybe the world would be a better place if they did a bit more often.




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U.S. Supermarkets Announce Guidelines for the Humane Treatment of Animals
Posted on 2002/6/29 23:49:02 ( 548 reads )


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USA, June 28, 2002: The supermarket and fast-food industries unveiled their first comprehensive guidelines for the humane treatment of farm animals, recommending that farmers curtail such practices as starving hens to make them lay more eggs, housing pregnant pigs in crates so small they cannot fully lie down and slaughtering some animals before they are fully unconscious. The guidelines are voluntary and in some areas remain vague and contested by farm groups. But they mark a new recognition that farm animal welfare is a growing concern to many American consumers. "This is the first time that the retail industry has clearly said the issue of farm animal welfare is important to it, and that it wants to make sure these issues get serious attention," said Karen Brown, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents most of the nation's supermarket owners. The recommendations were endorsed by seven leading animal welfare specialists who had been brought in by the trade associations to review the guidelines used by the pork, egg, chicken, dairy and beef industries for the treatment of farm animals. "It is historic that the entire grocery and chain restaurant industries have agreed that there are practices that are standard in the meat industry, yet clearly abusive of animals," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) director of vegan outreach. He said that the country needs animal welfare legislation, like some of the stringent laws enacted in Europe, but that the food industry is resisting strenuously.




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Re-Exporting Hinduism to India
Posted on 2002/6/29 23:48:02 ( 560 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, June 30, 2002: Jay Lakhani of the Vivekananda Centre London writes to Hindu Press International that he has received this request from Dr. T. H. Chowdary, Information Technology Advisor for the Government of Andhra Pradesh (e-mail: thc@satyam.comIndia). "We are delighted that you are teaching Hinduism in London. You are doing a great job for Bharat and the world. Here in India in the name of 'secularism' teaching Mahabharata, Bhagavata or Ramayana is prohibited, not to talk of Hinduism. But Koran and Bible could be taught. We are de-Hinduizing Indians so that they are becoming prey to the proselytizers and also become resident-non-Indians. I will be grateful if you can send the syllabus that you have drawn up for the London schools where you are teaching Hinduism. A voluntary organization, Society for Peace and Integrated Rural Development (an NGO), is launching a movement to teach Indian culture, civilization and history and literature in colleges as an extra subject. We will be taking inspiration from you and shape the content from the syllabus you have brought. We would be also be grateful if you can write an article on the scheme of teaching Hinduism in the London Schools and other places in UK." Lakhani expressed surprise that Hindus in India would be appealing to Hindus in England for guidance on how to teach Hinduism.




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Swami Pareshananaji Cancels Puerto Rico Visit
Posted on 2002/6/29 23:47:02 ( 588 reads )


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PUERTO RICO, June 30, 2002: The Vedanta Society of Puerto Rico informs HPI that the just announced visit of Swami Pareshanandaji, the director of Ramakrishna mission Ashram in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been canceled. For upcoming programs of the society, e-mail "source" above.




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"One Nation, Under Vishnu?" -- an Editorial Commenting on the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance Decision
Posted on 2002/6/28 23:49:02 ( 606 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, USA, June 29, 2002: A well crafted editorial commentary by Mark Morford, SF Gate columnist has raised some interesting issues about the United States "Pledge of Allegiance" with it's suddenly controversial phrase "under God" and bipartisan opinion about prayer in schools. A judge just recently ruled the pledge was unconstitutional, because it violated the US constitution's separation of church and state. Everyone in the country from President Bush on down has commented on the decision. Morford's article says that maybe some agree with the President that America is Christian country and its "rights were derived from God." Maybe you think the current, hypocritical separation of church and state, with its sanctimonious mentions of a patriarchal Christian God everywhere, is the righteous path. But, America is also the most religiously diverse country in the world teeming with saris and yarmulkes and monk's robes and funky prayer beads and glorious ornate temples of every shape and size. There are more Muslims in the U.S. now, for example, than there are Jews or Episcopalians. America, spiritually speaking, is not what most people think it is. But nowhere is religious funk and spiritual diversity more prevalent and visible than in the classroom, which since the mid-'60s has seen an explosion of immigrant cultures and beliefs, a dazzling and unprecedented intermixing of faiths. Hence, he adds, it would seem to require negligible rationale or subtlety of mind to see that "under God" is really rather inane and exclusionary and insulting to a vast and increasing chunk of the soon-to-be-voting populace. For the editorial in it's entirety, click "source" above.




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U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of School Vouchers
Posted on 2002/6/28 23:48:02 ( 502 reads )


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CLEVELAND, OHIO, June 27, 2002: In a landmark church-state case, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a controversial Cleveland program that allows parents to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to send their children to religious schools. If the parents do not want to send their child to public school, they are provided a "voucher" worth perhaps $2,500 which can be used to pay private school tuition instead. In the closely watched decision, the high court ruled 5-4 that the program does not violate the constitutional separation of church and state because parents have the option of choosing secular schools, as well as parochial schools. "The Ohio program is entirely neutral with respect to religion," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority. "It provides benefits directly to a wide spectrum of individuals, defined only by financial need and residence in a particular school district. It permits such individuals to exercise genuine choice among options public and private, secular and religious. The program is therefore a program of true private choice." In Cleveland, parents can choose a public magnet school or a community school, or use the voucher money for a private or parochial school. Currently, only Milwaukee and Cleveland offer parents vouchers, but Republican governors in several states have expressed interest in the idea. Rehnquist's opinion does not say a voucher program must be targeted at low-income children or limited in scope. The ruling appears to clear the way for statewide voucher programs that offer tuition subsidies to all families with school-children. The ruling is a victory for religious groups, who support voucher programs for their sectarian school systems. This decision clears the way for other innovative school choice programs. It appears that Hindu parents could send their children to Hindu schools -- if there were any. It may also make the creation of Hindu schools more possible.




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Hindu Centre Singapore Announces Hinduism Classes
Posted on 2002/6/28 23:47:02 ( 644 reads )


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SINGAPORE, June 29, 2002: The Hindu Centre Singapore is pleased to announce that a third class will be commencing for the "Introduction to Hinduism" course for youths and adults. There will be one two-hour class each week for 14 weeks, commencing July 6. Students should be 17 years old and above. 120 pages of reading material will be provided. A certificate of completion will be issued to those with 80% attendance. For more information e-mail "source" above.




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First Kataragama Pada Yatra Since 1983 in Sri Lanka
Posted on 2002/6/27 23:49:02 ( 602 reads )


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TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA, June 5, 2002: For the first time since 1983, pilgrims could undertake the arduous six-week pada yatra or foot pilgrimage to Kataragama, the ancient shrine to Lord Muruga. Sinhalese and foreign devotees as well as ardent Tamil devotees from Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya and Trincomalee reached the first leg in Trincomalee. Vallimalai Balananda Sadhu, bears the lance or Holy Vel, symbol of God Kataragama in this year's pada yatra. Sri Lanka's ongoing peace process has this year made it possible for devotees to walk to Kataragama from the traditional rendezvous point at Vattappalai (Mullaitivu district). Even after obtaining full clearance from the Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence, the pilgrims faced prolonged delays and questioning from LTTE officials at Puliyankulam and Kilinochi, interrogations by LTTE police inspectors at Vattappalai and further questioning by Sea Tiger cadres at Chemmalai. Both government and LTTE security officials alike strongly advise the public to avoid the broad landmine-strewn "no-man's land" separating the two sides. Their passage will take pilgrims via Pottuvil and Okanda through Yala National Park to reach the Kataragama Sacred City in time for the Esala Festival flag-hoisting on July 10. The Kataragama Pada Yatra, Sri Lanka's oldest surviving tradition of foot pilgrimage, went into abeyance in 1983 with the onset of ethnic conflict. It was revived in 1988 by the Kataragama Devotees Trust.




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Teacher Enjoys Role as Missionary for Kathak
Posted on 2002/6/27 23:48:02 ( 571 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 21, 2002: Chitresh Das is renowned all over India for his mastery of kathak. In 1971, at 26, he arrived in the US on a Whitney Fellowship to teach kathak -- a northern India style of dance -- at the University of Maryland. Now 57, he runs six kathak dance schools in the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Berkeley. He also offers a two-credit course at San Francisco State, where he is a faculty member. Das' performance career took off in India when he accepted an invitation by musician Ravi Shankar to perform at a festival in Benares. Later, after finishing his fellowship at the University of Maryland, Das found another mentor in Ali Akbar Khan, a famous musician in India who started his own music college in San Rafael. Khan invited Das to start a dance program at his college in 1971, and Das migrated west. Das has performed all over the world. Recently, he received high honors from West Bengal government's State Academy for his teaching. "I'm like a missionary of kathak dance," said Das, who teaches about 200 students in the Bay Area. Kathak is among India's six major classical styles of dance. In its days of origin, kathak was used to narrate great Indian epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Das adheres to kathak's deep tradition but still strives to make it relevant to modern times.




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Hindu Traditions in Thailand
Posted on 2002/6/27 23:47:02 ( 667 reads )


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CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, June 26, 2002: The successor to the present Rajaguru of the Royal Government of Thailand is all set to undergo training in different subjects such as purohitam, karmakanda, sastras, Sanskrit and Tamil at Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswamahavidyalaya at Enathur near Kanchipuram. The 12-year-old brahmin boy is currently on a visit to Chennai along with Pra Rajaguru Vamadevamuni, Chief of Royal Court Brahmanas, Royal Government of Thailand. Speaking at a reception organized by The Hindu Rakshana Samiti and Hindu Dharmaparipalana Sabha here Saturday, the Rajaguru recalled age-old cultural links between Thailand and India, in particular Tamilnadu. Referring to Ramayana, he said the epic had a tremendous impact on Thais as can be seen from a number of dramas on the Ramayana staged in the country. Expressing his concern over the decline in number of brahmins and Hindu rituals in the East Asian nation, Rajaguru Vamadevamuni said he had discussed the issue with the Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and also mooted training younger generation of brahmins in the state. On the relationship between Hindus and Buddhists-the predominant communities in Thailand, he said that despite being a Buddhist nation, the relationship between them could not be better and assured the gathering that he would do his best to foster cultural links between Thailand and India.




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