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Anthropologists Find Ancient Habitation in India

Posted on 2003/9/12 9:47:02 ( 1093 reads )


CALCUTTA, INDIA, September 8, 2003: Scientists report they have found evidence of the oldest human habitation in India, dating to two million years, on the banks of the Subarnarekha River. The 30-mile stretch between Ghatshila in the province of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj in Orissa has reportedly yielded tools that suggest the site could be unique in the world, with evidence of human habitation without a break from 2 million years ago to 5,000 BCE. Anthropologist S. Chakraborty told the Calcutta Telegraph: "There are no signs of terra incognito (a break in the continuum) in the Subarnarekha valley, unlike any other site in India. Some of the heavier tools resemble those found in the East African stone-age shelters, used by the Australopithecus." Chakraborty said the uninterrupted habitation could make the site more important than even the Aldovai Gorge in East Africa, the Somme Valley of France, Stonehenge in England, the Narmada basin in Madhya Pradesh or the Velamadurai-Pallavaram rectangle in Tamil Nadu.

Religion's a Hit on Indian TV

Posted on 2003/9/12 9:46:02 ( 907 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 4, 2003: Private television networks are turning to religion to tap a massive Hindu viewership, but say the religious channels are neither a platform to grab votes nor an attempt to peddle faith. TV channels like Aastha and Sanskar beam 24-hour religious programs to millions of homes, especially in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. "India is a democracy, and we are free to air religious opinions and discourses by learned gurus. But we do not have any political content in our programming," said Lalit Purohit, marketing chief of Sanskar TV. "We do not have any stand on issues like the Babri mosque or Ayodhya temple," added Purohit. "We stay clear of all such issues." Aastha says on its official website that it eschews politics and its "chaste blissful viewing" only portrays India's "strong heritage which has sustained and outlived various onslaughts while emerging stronger." "Today, when the whole world is under the dark clouds of terrorism, spirituality is the only flame that can throw light on world peace and hope," said Santosh Kumar Jain, director of Aastha TV in a statement. "I am glad that the Aastha channel is playing an inspiring role. "These religious channels are not purveying a militant Hindu line or polarization of Indian society. There is no evidence of a party or ideological line," said Iqbal Malhotra, director of Delhi-based AIM Television. "There is a revival of spiritualism both in India and abroad. These niche channels are tapping into a lucrative market where there is a search for blending Eastern spiritualism with Western precepts."

Yoga Practice Draws Russian Women Closer to Jewish Culture

Posted on 2003/9/12 9:45:02 ( 870 reads )


OMSK, RUSSIA, September 9, 2003: During Soviet times, Tsylyana Gorbunova and friends met discreetly every week in the rooms of Omsk's Red Star Stadium in the early morning hours to secretly fulfill their spiritual needs. The group sat on shabby carpets and practiced a forbidden form of meditation called yoga. Three decades later, Gorbunova's expertise in yoga is helping to kick start her latest spiritual endeavor in Judaism. Since 2001, the director of Omsk's Hesed center has used yoga to attract the city's highly assimilated senior citizens. "The Jewish center is primarily religious, and according to the Torah, we Jews have to be healthy. So we picked this path of yoga to bring them closer to Jewish culture. The most important thing isn't to talk about health but to implement," says Gorbunova, 55, who was a doctor and social worker during the Communist era. After changing into 1980's-style athletic attire, the women lie down on their own rugs and begin stretching in tandem. Over the next hour they choose a few dozen exercises. Some are designed to ease their breath, others to relax their bodies. All participants swear yoga has reduced their health problems, which include osteoporosis, high-blood pressure and excess weight.

International Expo on Vedic Sciences Set for Rotterdam

Posted on 2003/9/12 9:43:02 ( 950 reads )


ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS, September 12, 2003: The European Forum For Ayurveda is organizing the "International Expo & Symposium on Vedic Sciences" this year for the first time. It will be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 10, 11 and 12 October 2003. The main focus of the symposium will be: Ayurveda, Astrology and Culture. To participate in the symposium, or to come and visit the event, please click on "source" above for details.

UK Poll Finds Surprising View of Spirituality

Posted on 2003/9/11 17:27:01 ( 866 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, September 10, 2003: Britons are abandoning churches in droves, replacing traditional religion with activities that focus on themselves. But most people still believe in something, a poll revealed yesterday. Six out of ten of Britons believe in God and increasing numbers find Jesus inspirational, thanks to a rise in evangelical Christianity. Islam and alternative ideas such as New Age spirituality are also expanding. Pollsters Mori interviewed 1,001 people for the fifth anniversary of BBC1's Heaven And Earth Show. They found a country in which almost half the population could not name any of the four New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But 60 per cent knew the Koran is Islam's sacred text. The programme claims there are 750,000 practising Muslims in the UK and a million practising Christians (out of a UK population of 59 million). A spokesman for the show -- hosted by Philippa Forrester and Ross Kelly -- said: "The rise of the consumer society and a greater emphasis on individual experience have challenged traditional worship. "The outlook for traditional Christianity is bleak. But it

Hindu Temples in Trincomalee Tell Tamils' History

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:49:02 ( 1529 reads )


TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA, August 18, 2003: At a one-day seminar held by Sri Lanka's Hindu Religious Affairs Ministry Sunday for Saiva religious teachers in the Trincomalee district, at the auditorium of Trincomalee Thiruvalluvar Nilayam, several speakers said that Hindu temples in the district are monuments of history of Tamils in the country. Hindu temples should be safeguarded at any cost to show the future generation that Tamils have a several centuries-old history in the country, said speakers at the seminar. The Trincomalee Cultural Officer, Mr. S. Mahendrarajah, said in his welcome speech that from the Koneswaram temple in the eastern port town to Agathiyar Thapanam founded by Saint Agathiyar, and now the ruins of the Muttur south Hindu temples in the district speak of the pristine glory of Tamils in the country. Saint Agathiyar had founded a Tamil medical university at Kanguveli several centuries ago and now it is called Agathiyar Thapanam, he said. At the commencement of the event, a leading Tamil woman scholar in Sri Lanka, Vidwan Ms. Vasantha Vaithiyanathan, hoisted the Siva flag while about fifty Saiva teachers sang Saiva Thurumuraigal composed by Nayanmargal (Tamil saints), sources said. She later inaugurated the seminar by lighting the traditional oil lamp. Presiding over the event, Mr.V. Wikramaraja, Assistant Director of the Hindu Religious Affairs Department, said that all Ara Neri (Saiva religious schools) institutions would be brought under one unit under the Ministry of Hindu Affairs with effect from January 1 next year. Messrs S. Arumainayagam, Trincomalee town, and gravets Divisional Officer and Kuralamutham K.Vinayagasothy, Trustee of Uppuveli Sivanantha Thabovanam, were the guests of honor at the event. The Department of Hindu Cultural Affairs donated books to libraries functioning in local authorities and Hindu religious institutions in the Trincomalee, sources said.

Third Shahi Snan Underway At Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:48:02 ( 1001 reads )


TRIMBAKESHWAR, INDIA, September 7, 2003: Thousands of sadhus today took part in the third and final Shahi Snan (Royal Bath) of Kumbha Mela 2003 at Kushavartha Teerth amidst unprecedented security while mahants and Naga sadhus of Juna Akhada declined to participate in protest against the boycott of their Akhada (monastic order) by other Akhadas. Mahants and sadhus belonging to Avahan, Agni, Anand, Niranjani, Mahanirwani and Atal Akhadas took the Royal Bath between 4 AM and 5:30 AM in the sacred pond after which it was kept reserved for Vaishnav sadhus until 8 AM. The mahants arrived for the Royal Bath carrying their symbols in a procession dotted with silver maces and beautiful carvings, and silver palanquins mounted on cars. The Naga sadhus smeared in ash and wearing flower garlands took the holy dip and offered prayers to Lord Siva in the ancient Trimbakeshwar Temple. However, the procession by sadhus was simple and without music and other instruments as a mark of respect to the victims of a stampede incident at Nasik on August 27. Meanwhile, following internal disputes, nine Akhadas boycotted the Juna Akhada on Friday night due to the misbehavior of their sadhus and not obeying rules and regulations of the Parishad. National president of Shri Shambhu Panch Dashnam Juna Akhada Paramanand Saraswati said that they have not boycotted the Royal Bath but sacrificed it to avoid further problems.

Ganesha Immersion Passes Off Peacefully

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:47:02 ( 958 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, September 7, 2003: The week-long Ganesh Chaturthi festival came to an end on Sunday in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry with the immersion of hundreds of Ganesh icons passing off peacefully. In the city, hundreds of Ganesh icons, including a 24-feet high one, were brought in processions from all parts of the metropolis and immersed in the sea off the Marina Beach amidst tight security. Cranes were used to lift some huge icons off trucks and bullock carts and place them in the sea.

Tamil Nadu Court Revokes Ban On Ganesha Immersion

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:46:02 ( 302 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, September 6, 2003: The Madras High court and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (PCB) are in disagreement over the immersion of Ganesha icons made of plaster of paris. PCB recently prohibited the immersion of icons made of plaster of paris and painted icons in the sea and other water bodies, saying they polluted the water and were poisonous for marine life. But the Madras High Court has overruled the PCB order, saying that immersion of icons cannot be stopped abruptly. Agreeing that the immersing of Ganesha icons was an established practice, the court said that since the immersion process was going on at the moment, the judiciary would not rule for or against the process. Hundreds of Ganesha icons are slated to be submerged in the sea on Sunday. The bench directed PCB to devise methods by which toxic icons could be made safe and immersions could take place.

Kashmiri Pandits Facing "Extinction," Say Experts

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:45:02 ( 1068 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 7, 2003: Kashmiri Pandits are "threatened with extinction," says a study presented to the conference on Kashmiri Pandits held in New Delhi on September 1-2, 2003. Among the problems cited were premature ageing and premature death, unnatural death, high incidence of serious and potentially fatal diseases, affliction with multiple disease syndromes, poor medical aid, economic bankruptcy and lack of desire to live, resulting in a high death rate among them. Late marriages and late conception, premature menopause and reduced fertility span, diminished libido and hypo-sexuality of exile, forced celibacy and sexual deprivation, contraception, elective abortion and high divorce rate have spurred low birth rates. The statistics were obtained from surveys conducted at various camps at Jammu where most migrants stayed in pitiable condition after fleeing the Kashmir Valley. The study was conducted was by Dr. K. L. Choudhary, a noted physician, who himself had to flee the Kashmir Valley and is living in Jammu.

In the face of calamity: Orissa children keep up Ganesha faith

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:44:02 ( 949 reads )


ORISSA, INDIA, September 2, 2003: Heavy rains and floods in Orissa this year did not deter children from celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. The festival is usually celebrated with much enthusiasm by students seeking Lord Ganesha's blessings for success in their studies. "Our school is flooded with water. So we decided to have the puja by the roadside," said one student. Ninety percent of the students couldn't attend school, but the small and less elaborate puja gave those present a reason to cheer and celebrate.

British Home Secretary Blunkett visits Hindu Temple

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:43:02 ( 1162 reads )


SOUTHALL, U.K., September 4, 2003: British Home Secretary David Blunkett was welcomed with a garland of flowers when he visited Shree Ram Mandir in Southall, Middlesex on Thursday. The Shree Ram Mandir is one of UK's oldest temples. Mr. Blunkett was given a tour of the Deities and listened to a traditional instrumental performance on sitar as well as a recitation of the scriptures. The Home Secretary praised local head teachers, religious leaders and worshippers for working together and creating the much-used resource center. The Shree Ram Mandir is used as a social, educational and religious base for locals of different faiths. As well as holding GCSE classes in Hindi (GCSE is a high school certification in a subject), it holds music and dance lessons, organizes health projects, wedding services, social activities for the elderly and provides a creche for local children. The founder member and trustee of the temple, Rabindra Patahak, said the temple provided people of all ages with a place to come and take part in cultural activities. Mahanta Shrestha, from Nepal added: "More than 200 people come here through these doors every day. This is the first minister we have ever seen here, and I hope it will be a milestone for us as a community."

Temple Consecrated on Reunion

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:42:02 ( 1108 reads )


REUNION, FRANCE, July 7, 2003: July, 2003, marked a highpoint in the religious life of the Tamil community of Reunion island. Thousands gathered on July 6 for the Maha Kumbahishegam of the Siva Soupramanien temple of Petit-Bazar on Avenue Ile-of-France in the town of Saint-Andre. The ten-day ceremony was presided over by Shivacharia Kayaroganam Bala Soupramanien from Tiruchy (Tamil Nadu). Four other priests were flown in from India to assist him and Natarajan Thangappan Gurukkal, the temple's priest. The temple was founded in a small hut in 1900. Many improvements occurred since that time. But now, after eight years of construction, the temple has been completely renovated. Even the deities are new. John Kichenin, president of L'association Siva Soupramanien, explained that hundreds of thousands of dollars (US) were donated to cover construction costs. "The temple needed a renovation as the number of worshippers at the Cavadee festival has grown in recent years. In 1977, we counted 60 penitents performing the cavadee, we passed 125 in 1988, 286 in 1998 and 382 in 2003, and this is not counting the thousands of devotees that accompany the penitents every year."

Sabarimal Temple Opens

Posted on 2003/9/8 9:41:02 ( 1163 reads )


PATHANAMTHITTA, KERALA, INDIA, September 5, 2003: The hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala will open for Onam festival on September 6. Melsanthi Perikamana Sankaranarayanan Nampoothiri will open the sreekovil (main sanctum) at 5.30 a.m. in the presence of Thantri (chief priest) Kandararu Rajivaru. Udayasthamana pooja, Pushpabhishekam and Padipooja will be conducted on all four days from September 7. The melsanthi will offer Onam sadya to devotees on September 7 after the Ucha pooja. A Sahasra kalasam will be performed under the leadership of the thantri on September 9. The sanctum sanctorum will be closed on September 10 after Harivarasanam in the evening.

National Hindu Convention Held in South Africa

Posted on 2003/9/7 9:49:02 ( 1042 reads )


DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, September 6, 2003: Hundreds of delegates from all parts of the country are in Durban for a two-day National Hindu Convention. The gathering is to assess Hinduism and its place in South Africa. President Thabo Mbeki is to officially open the meeting later this morning. The convention is being hosted by the South African Hindu Maha Sabha and is aimed at uniting Hindu organizations and the preservation of the culture. Ashwin Trikamjee, the president of the Maha Sabha, said for the first time in the history of this country almost every single Hindu organization would be represented. The Sabha wants to make every effort to support the activities of its affiliates and to ensure the relevance of the tradition. Discussions at the convention will also focus on the role of the youth, women and the functions of Hindu priests. Other dignitaries that will attend include Shiv Sankar Mukherjee, India's High Commissioner to South Africa.

A second report on this convention, available at source, reads, " 'The inaugural Hindu Convention, being held in Durban, would make a great contribution towards the spiritual enrichment of South Africa's diverse society,' President Thabo Mbeki said. Speaking at University of Durban-Westville's Hindu Centre, Mbeki said the convention constituted a significant development in the evolution of South African Society. 'There was a time when it was unthinkable that a religion (that is, Hinduism) which, according to the Apartheid ideology, was outside the officially sanctioned religious mainstream, could assume its rightful place in our spiritual life,' he said. Apartheid not only suppressed political freedom, but also stifled religious choices. Forced removals saw the destruction of sacred places. 'As we know, during removals, graves, temples, halls and other cultural institutions were destroyed in areas such Cato Manor, Riverside and Clairwood.' He said it had taken the Hindu community a long time to rebuild their places of worship in relocated areas such as Lenasia, Chatsworth and Phoenix. Thankfully, in the new South Africa all religions are recognized and there is freedom of worship. 'Given our divided history, religious organizations have an important role to play in the reconstruction and development of our country, especially in the welfare and civil society sectors.' He said the convention would empower South Africa's Hindu community to enhance its contribution to peace.

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