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Kerala-Born East Indians to Gather in Texas to Promote Their Traditions

Posted on 2003/9/15 9:43:02 ( 885 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA, September 4, 2003: Those born in the Indian state of Kerala who have migrated to the U.S.A., Canada, Kuwait, UAE, and Middle East European countries have found a way to maintain the rich traditions and heritage of their religion. On November 28 to November 30 of this year, 1,000 delegates from 400 families have decided to gather together to participate in the second Kerala Hindu convention at the Houston Hobby Marriott in Texas. Sasidharan Nair, Chairperson of Hindus of North America Inc, says that the following people will be attending, Jagadguru Swami Satyananda Saraswathi, Advt. P K Narayana Panickker, the General Secretary of NSS, Vellapalli Natesan, SNDP General Secretary and Dr. N Gopalakrishnan. Culturally, a musical program will be provided by singer M G Sreekumar. Other Hindu organizations are planning cultural performances to enhance the event.

Millions Bid Farewell To Lord Ganesha

Posted on 2003/9/14 9:49:02 ( 889 reads )


INDIA, September 10, 2003: Millions of devotees all over India bid a fond farewell to Lord Ganesha on Tuesday amid chants asking the Lord to come back early next year. After his 10-day sojourn on Earth, the Lord's icons, in various shapes and sizes, were immersed under the vigil of police personnel and the fervor of devotees. In Mumbai, the main immersion points were filled to the brim by devotees. Clarinets, brass bells, windpipes and trumpets gave the farewell a touch of traditional (and slightly British) pomp and royal glory. Watching the festivities were over 20,000 policemen and women. A special watchtower was set up to monitor the surging crowds and lifeguards and rescue boats were kept ready to face any emergencies. While early afternoon saw small statues installed in households making it to the waterfront, late evening saw the huge icons of nearly 3,500 mandals (temporary temples which housed the icons during the festival) moving towards the waterfronts. The eye-catching deities included Ganesha holding the Veena, Ganesha in the form of Vishnu and Krishna and a Ganesha flexing his muscles as a body builder. In Pune about four million people witnessed the immersions. Nashik, Nagpur and Hyderabad also contained huge crowds in mainly peaceful immersion processions.

Fire Crackers Still Banned for Festivals

Posted on 2003/9/14 9:48:02 ( 1019 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 11, 2003: The nation's Supreme Court on Wednesday made it loud and clear that festivities and noise cannot go together whatever religion you belong to. During the fast approaching festivals of Deepavali and Dussehra which is followed by late night Ram Lilas in most part of the country, noise nuisance would not be tolerated. It also rejected the fire cracker manufacturers' counsel Rajiv Dutta's plea to relax 10 pm to 6 am ban on bursting crackers so that Hindus in the South could celebrate Diwali at 3 am when oil bath is given to the God.

The ban imposed by the court would not infringe on the fundamental right to practice religion. Though the Centre said the plea to relax the timing for one day was a reasonable request, the court said it was for the state government to consider it and move the Centre for permission which in turn would petition the apex court for any modification in its detailed order on keeping the noise level within permissible decibel. A Bench of Justices R C Lahoti and Ashok Bhan said that cultural and religious consideration would not warrant a variation in the apex court's earlier order on the issue. Senior lawyer Jitender Sharma who assisted the court in the matter recalled another judgment by which the apex court had refused the Muslims in Kolkata to use loudspeakers for early morning azaan at the mosques.

Two years ago, the court had ruled that the religious freedom to burst crackers, play loud music and use loudspeakers could not be allowed if such activities affect others right to live with peace. Religious rights guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26, a Bench headed by Justice M B Shah had said, is subject to "public order, morality and health." Concerned with the health and well being of ailing and others, the court had said: "It should not be forgotten that young babies in the neighborhood are also entitled to enjoy their natural right of sleeping in a peaceful atmosphere. A student preparing for his examination is entitled to concentrate on his studies without there being any unnecessary disturbance by the neighbor. Similarly, old and infirm are entitled to enjoy reasonable quietness during their leisure hours without being any nuisance of noise pollution."

HPI adds: An additional motivation for the banning of fire crackers has been to curtail the child labor involved in the dangerous production of the explosives.

Secrecy Surrounds Plan for Road Around Mt. Kailash

Posted on 2003/9/14 9:47:02 ( 867 reads )


TIBET, September 6, 2003: Surveying work for a road around Mount Kailash is reportedly now complete and construction may start next April. According to sources who have visited the area recently, many Tibetans are concerned about the plans for the road, which may be part of more ambitious aims to increase accessibility to the area and attract more Chinese and foreign tourists, says this article sent to HPI by "source" above. Tibetan locals who complained to officials in the area about the plans have been warned not to talk about the road to foreigners or others visiting Mt. Kailash, according to a Westerner who has been a frequent visitor to the area. Tibetans are concerned because Kailash is such a sacred place and the landscape is so unspoiled. The whole point of the pilgrimage is to make the arduous 35-mile circuit around the mountain on foot, said the Westerner. According to one source, there are ongoing discussions among the local authorities about opening up a tourist route by air from Lhasa to the town of Ali. In theory, this could enable tourists to fly there from Lhasa in less than two hours, drive around the mountain, and be back in the capital a few days later. It normally takes at least three to four days by jeep to drive to Kailash from Lhasa. A Western tour operator who runs trips to Kailash said: "These plans do not take into account either the severe, and very real, risks of fatality from visiting this high altitude region without adequate acclimatization, nor do they take into account the sacred nature of the mountain to devotees from several faiths." HPI adds: Readers who have information confirming that plans for a road are indeed in the works may contact hpi@hindu.org.

Ganga Floods Disrupt Banaras Ghats

Posted on 2003/9/14 9:46:02 ( 1196 reads )


BANARAS, INDIA, September 12, 2003: The rising waters of the Ganga has not only submerged the bathing ghats but also disrupted many of the ceremonies like "Ganga aarti" (worship of the river with lights) and even cremations at this pilgrim city. For the past few days, the river has been swirling over the time-worn steps of the numerous ghats, forcing the pandas (priests who assist the pilgrims in various rituals) and the pilgrims, who used to spend hours at the ghats, to shift elsewhere. The cremation spots at the various ghats have been under water for the past ten days. However, the rites were being performed on roof tops at the Manikarnika ghat and even on the street at the Harishchandra ghat. The crowds of tourists, who used to enjoy the sunrise and sunset when the rays would seemingly convert the waters of the holy river to gold, are also a disappointed lot having lost the vantage point of the ghats to view the event. However, many of them have taken to watching it from top of the buildings lining the river. Those living in the low-lying areas are having to cope with flood waters entering their houses. Ganga arati, to be peformed at dusk after sunset, when the multitudes of small clay lamps are set alight and afloat by the devotees from the ghats, has been disrupted and would not take place till the water level goes down, Shiv Kumar Mishra, coordinator of the Ganga Seva Nidhi, a cultural NGO which performs various cultural and religious activities throughout the year at the famous Dashashwamedh ghat, said.

One Million Expected for Mata Amritanandamayi's 50th Birthday Celebrations

Posted on 2003/9/14 9:45:02 ( 1039 reads )

Ruder Finn New York

KOCHIN, INDIA, SEPTEMBER, 2003: The celebration of Mata Amritanandamayi's birthday, called Amritavarsham 50, will include an interfaith summit, a women's meeting for peace and an international youth rally in which 100,000 youth are expected to participate. There will be cultural programs featuring Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, L. Subramanian, Jagjit Singh and troupes from Australia, Africa, Japan, Ireland, Malaysia and other countries. In all, one million people from 191 nations are expected to gather in Kochin on September 24-27, 2003 for these events.

As part of the celebrations, the President of India, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, will host an International CEO Leadership Summit in Kochin on September 26, 2003. Members of the Indian Diaspora who are now running successful companies around the world will use their expertise and resources to harness the financial, technological and business resources of India and ensure the country plays a key role in the world economy. Another goal is to use the India Diaspora to expand access to technology across India and launch India-based businesses, technology, jobs and training. The CEO summit will include the founders of Hotmail and eBay, senior executives from Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and Hewlett Packard and several Indian industrialists. Following the Summit meeting, the President will form a Leadership Advisory Committee to head up and execute a strategy called the Roadmap to Business and Economic Development -- a unique collaboration with the private sector. The objective of the Summit is to find workable solutions addressing key issues regarding India's business and economic development.

First Conference on Hindu Unity in South Africa a Success

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:49:02 ( 956 reads )


DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, September 8, 2003: South Africa's first national convention on Hindu unity has been hailed as "an unqualified success" by South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee. The two-day conference was attended by 370 delegates from 108 Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati and Telugu linguistic and community groups from across the country to discuss a wide range of issues. There was also one representative from Zimbabwe. The majority of South Africa's 1.2 million people of Indian origin are of Tamil descent. South African President Thabo Mbeki, who opened the conference, lauded the Hindu community for its role in helping the country achieve democracy. He also highlighted the significant status that the community enjoyed in relation to the other religions in the National Religious Forum, of which Trikamjee is chairman. Trikamjee said the conference discussed the theme of uniting various Hindu communities, greater involvement by Hindu youths in South Africa, greater involvement by all Hindus in social issues, education, having a uniform body to regulate practices by priests, and initiatives to stem conversion to other faiths, mainly Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Islam. Trikamjee said "The general view was that rather than criticizing other religious groupings, we should rather strengthen our own religious practices and beliefs among our people. There was a strong feeling that all this should start at home. Parents should know their religion to inculcate their religions in their children. If you have a strong religious base, there will be no problem with conversion." Trikamjee felt that when poor Hindus were in trouble, financially or socially, there had to be some kind of a support structure from within their own religious grouping. "This is lacking at the moment and is being exploited by missionaries." Trikamjee added.

Hanoi Performance of Kathak

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:48:02 ( 968 reads )


HANOI, VIETNAM, September 11, 2003: A five-member troupe of the Indian classical dancing style known as Kathak, led by Keya Chanda, one of India's best-known Kathak performers, made a performance on Wednesday night at the Hanoi Opera House. This performance showed Hanoian audiences how this dynamic art conveys popular Hindu religious stories. The performance is part of the Vietnam-India cultural exchange program 2003. The Indian dancing troupe will perform at the Culture Palace in northern Hoa Binh province on Friday.

Mauritius Priests Get Training from India

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:47:02 ( 1137 reads )


MAURITIUS, September 9, 2003: (translated from the original French) The Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation (MSDTF) has obtained 23 annual scholarships from Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyaputha and the New Delhi Academy of Sanskrit for those that want to become purohits (priests). They will complete a three-year course with two universities in Delhi and be awarded certificates upon successful completion. Furthermore, a group of 20 Indian scholars of the Sanskrit and Hindu rituals are coming to Mauritius from September 11 to 17 to assist with priest training, a result of the visit of the president of the MSDTF, Somduth Dulthumun, in India, the last month. The local training is also available to women priests.

September 11th: The International Day of Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:46:02 ( 939 reads )


EUGENE, OREGON, September 10, 2003: Arun Toke, editor of Skipping Stones magazine writes, "The most important lesson that 9/11 offers us is that we engage in a continuing dialogue to overcome prejudice with understanding, hatred with love, injury with forgiveness, suffering with compassion, and terror with peacefulness. Out of this tragedy have risen opportunities for understanding the many levels of diversity in our world -- of faiths and traditions, cultures and customs, tongues and thoughts, expressions and experiences that enrich our planet. Let's shape our global future by helping, healing, engaging in dialogue, praying together and understanding each other. On September 6, the Register-Guard newspaper continued the community "interfaith dialogue" by publishing 15 different perspectives on how people belonging to various faith traditions and spiritual paths seek inner peace. Afterwards, 33 religious leaders of all faiths came to the Twin Rivers Interfaith Ministry meeting to hear three different perspectives. And on 9/11, thousands of citizens of Lane County will participate in an evening of peace songs and presentations in the Federal Plaza; an interfaith service at the First Christian Church, or have a dialogue after viewing a thought-provoking video in the University of Oregon to understand the complexity of the issues. Becoming active peacemakers means engaging in dialogue with friends and strangers alike. When we listen to others, and when we know their stories, they no longer remain strangers to us. Time is ripe for observing an International Day of Dialogue. We believe the United Nations, World Parliament of Religions, and many other NGOs might be willing to sponsor such an International Day of Dialogue. The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) based in Washington, DC, has already adopted a resolution to this effect. Let's celebrate our diversity and create a bond of unity with a compassionate dialogue!" Contact Arun at editor@skippingstones.org.

The Holy Man Businessman

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:45:02 ( 992 reads )


TAMIL NADU, INDIA, September 11, 2003: He is a Hindu holy man who has renounced the material world, yet he is also a business tycoon who employs thousands of people. Christian Fabre, or Swami Pranavananda Brahmendra Avadhuta as he is now known, is a French citizen living in India. He became a Hindu holy man, or sadhu, some years ago and now runs an ashram in the south-western state of Tamil Nadu, according to this article on the BBC. He came to India in the 1970's, and fell in love with its culture, faith and people. After losing his job and his family he was introduced to a Hindu Swami and discovered a renewed faith in himself. He bought four sewing machines and secured some orders from a major French clothing company. Today, his company, Fashion International, has 35 factories which employ 60,000 people. His guru eventually invited him to take up the sannyas -- renounce all worldly attachments and focus on the search for enlightenment. Swami says, "My guru made me swear, that as a condition of taking up the sannyas, I must also maintain my business. He said that I should not leave behind my work." Swami now lives in the ashram in the manner of the other sadhus in his holy order. He does not care for money. "I do not keep a single penny for myself. I divide all my profit between my workers." HPI adds: This is an unusual report as normally a sadhu would not remain a businessman after taking up sannyas. Perhaps our readers have more information on the Swami.

Hindu Lectures at London University

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:44:02 ( 1012 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, September 10, 2003. The Bagri Foundation in London has announced a series of lectures to be delivered by specialists at the School of African and Oriental Studies, London University, in the months of October and November. These annual lectures will be delivered by a number of specialists on Hindu affairs. All lectures will begin at 6.45 pm and last for an hour. The admission for all these lectures is free. For more information, contact "source" above.

BBC Portrays More Hindu Themes.

Posted on 2003/9/13 9:43:02 ( 952 reads )

Vivekananda Centre London

ENGLAND, September 13, 2003: The BBC Radio 4 service is featuring a program "Story of Nivedita (Swami Vivekananda's foremost woman disciple) on Monday, September 15 at 8pm London Time. The Vivekananda Centre is part of a series exploring ideas of heaven and hell in different faiths which air on BBC World Service Radio on September 17, 24 and October 1 at 1445 GMT and repeated at 1845.

Festival Brings Sri Lankans Together to Worship in Peace

Posted on 2003/9/12 9:49:02 ( 1117 reads )


KATARAGAMA, SRI LANKA, September 1, 2003: A sixteen-day festival in honour of the God Kataragama (Murugan) has drawn huge crowds this year as pilgrims feel safe travelling on their island since the ceasefire of February, 2002. Walking on burning ambers, skewering cheeks and tongues with tiny spears, or piercing their backs with small hooks, devotees hope to assuage karma with these acts of penance. The article says, "Some still make the traditional walk to Kataragama, winding down the coast from homes in the north, a journey of up to 500 kms that can take more than a month to cover." Kataragama town is located 180 kms SE of the capital of Colombo in a remote area. The festival attracts Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. M.S. Mylvaganan, a 66-year-old Tamil tea plantation worker says, "I am visiting Kataragama after 36 years. My daughters were scared to travel during the war. Now we feel it's safer." The ceasefire brought the government and Tamil Tiger rebels together to talk peace after 20 years of war over a separate Tamil state in the north and east. Many are attending the festival to pray that the ceasefire continues and peace will pervade in the country. Sarath Kumara, a 20 year-old Sinhalese man sums it up, "I wish for peace as it will help us all."

Muslims Welcome Ganesha Procession

Posted on 2003/9/12 9:48:02 ( 958 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, September 9, 2003: For 24 years, the Kote area and the Kotiamaramma Temple in Channapatna taluk near here had remained tense every time a Ganesha icon passed through the locality. But this year, it was a big surprise for the residents as the local administration took the initiative to build bridges. Muslims of the area welcomed the procession as it passed near a mosque. Nearly 400 children from the nearby Government Primary Urdu School garlanded the icon, as Hindus distributed "prasaadam" (blessed food) to Muslims. This remarkable turnaround came about thanks to an initiative by the local administrators and the Deputy Superintendent of Police, K. Narayanan. Residents were elated to see the camaraderie.

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