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Canadian Textbook Publisher Promotes Religious Understanding


Posted on 2003/5/26 9:49:02 ( 1012 reads )

Hinduism Today

Kauai, USA, May 26, 2003: Thomson Nelson, a school text publisher in Canada, is including two excerpts from Hinduism Today in its upcoming book "My Place in the World" for ninth graders. The book's straightforward advocacy of religious tolerance is really quite remarkable, as shown by their choice of excerpts.



The first excerpt: "The following was published in Hinduism Today (March, 2002): 'In Australia, Sydney's Anglican Archbishop, Rev. Peter Jensen, at an August crusade shocked many with his comment that non-Christians and Buddhists in particular were brought to Australia by God to enable them to "share in the gospel of the Lord Jesus." Vehement objections were published in The Sydney Herald. Dr. A. Balasubramaniam wrote, "Jensen's comments are breathtaking in their arrogance. Christians do not enjoy a monopoly on the route to heaven." '



"Student assignment: Write a short letter to Jensen expressing your views."



The second excerpt: "Reporting fairly and accurately on the activities and beliefs of individuals of different faith traditions can be a challenge for reporters. For example, in 2001, the largest-ever Kumbha Mela was held in India. Some Hindus objected to the media coverage of this event by Western journalists stationed in India. Hinduism Today magazine had a detailed complaint:



" 'Did journalists and photographers have a narrow depth of field? Sooner or later, some conscience-struck journalism student will finally send Hinduism Today a copy of "The Journalist's Guide to Reporting on Hinduism." We already know what is in it: "If you are a journalist posted to Delhi for a year, then proceed in sequence to report on the following items: child marriages, widow burning and abandonment, bride burning and beating, caste oppression, the Ram temple, Hindu fundamentalists, harassment of Christians, phony gurus, greedy priests and, when you really have nothing else to report, the rat temple. At no time in your reports shall you extol Hinduism or ever compare any of these topics to identical or parallel issues in the West, such as teenage pregnancies, abuse of the aged, domestic violence, racial and ethnic discrimination, Christian fundamentalists, harassment of religious minorities, disgraced preachers, pedophile priests, or even the pervasive mistreatment of laboratory rats." '



"The quotation makes clear how easily Western journalists can fall into the trap of presenting the same old picture of India to their readers. And it raises a question for anyone living in Canada as to how accurately we understand India and other foreign nations."




The Changing Face of Religious Affiliation in Canada


Posted on 2003/5/26 9:48:02 ( 844 reads )

Source

OTTAWA, CANADA, May 13, 2003: Canadian population demographics have been released on religious affiliation from the May 15, 2001, census. While seventy percent of Canadians identify their religion as Roman Catholic, the largest religious group in Canada, the churches' devotees are dropping steadily. In contrast, the number of Canadians affiliating themselves with religions such as Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are rising, the new census data shows. "At the same time the number of Canadians who reported religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism has increased substantially. These religions showed large increases during the 1990's because of the large number of immigrants coming to Canada." For example, in the 1991 census, 253,000 Canadians identified their religion as Islam but in the 2001 census the number rose to 579,600. Statistics Canada also says that the number of individuals identifying themselves as Hindu has increased by eighty-nine percent since 1991. According to the survey Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims make up about one percent of the country's population and most Hindus and Muslims live in Ontario. HPI adds: Disclosure of religious affiliation on the census was voluntary, therefore the numbers likely do not accurately reflect the Hindu population in Canada. Other estimates by Hinduism Today put the number of Hindus in Canada closer to two million, based on the number of immigrants present from India, Sri Lanka, Fiji and other countries with large Hindu populations.




British Fast Becoming Vegetarians


Posted on 2003/5/26 9:47:02 ( 867 reads )

Source

LONDON, ENGLAND, May 21, 2003: The following revelations coincided with the celebration of the National Vegetarian Week: if Britons continue to turn vegetarianism at the current rate, it is predicted in 50 years the traditional roast and full English breakfast will be consigned to the dustbins of history. Around 2,000 Britons a week are converting to vegetarianism and if the trend continues, by 2047 the British population will be predominantly vegetarian. The news will please the government struggling to cut the number of patients waiting for hospital admissions, for it is said that vegetarians enjoy better health. According to the study, the average vegetarian visits the hospital 22 percent less often than a meat-eater, saving the National Health Service around US$5,280 per person per year.




Seychelle Archipelago's Hindu Temple


Posted on 2003/5/26 9:46:02 ( 867 reads )

Source

SEYCHELLE ARCHIPELAGO, May 23, 2003: Tamil writer, Vijaratnam Sivasupramaniam, tells the world about the Seychelles islands in his new book, "Decade of growth." The Seychelles are located southwest of India and east of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. Hindus began organized religious gatherings in 1984 when they formed the Seychelles Hindu Kovil Sangham. The Sangham went on to build the first and only public Hindu temple in the archipelago. The Seychelles Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayaka Temple was completed in 1992.




Mansarovar Yatra Correction


Posted on 2003/5/26 9:45:02 ( 858 reads )

HPI

KAUAI, U.S.A., May 26, 2003: Sadhvi Bhagwati, from Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, has written with additional information regarding yesterday's story on the cancellation of this year's Mansarovar Yatra: "Although the Indian Government has indefinitely postponed their yatra due to China closing the land route over Lipulekh Pass, regular yatras to Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash will begin again at the end of June for the Lipulekh Pass and on July 1 for the by-air-through-Lhasa route. China Air (or Air China), who fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, have given the official and formal information last week that as of July 1 they will begin flying that route. They have started taking reservations again. I have also heard from agents in Kathmandu that the overland route from Kathmandu will begin in the 3rd week of June. It is only the Indian government yatra which has been indefinitely postponed. All of the agents in Kathmandu are taking reservations for July onward. I know this as we were planning to go on yatra from 4 June, but it was postponed until 2 July. We now have received 100% confirmation from the airlines and agents that the yatra will, in fact, be on in July."




Top Barrister Preeta Bansal New Member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom


Posted on 2003/5/25 9:49:02 ( 853 reads )

Source

WASHINGTON D.C., U.S.A., May 24, 2003: Persistent lobbying by Hindu-Americans, especially after last year's violence in Gujarat, to have an Indian-American on the US statutory commission which oversees religious freedom worldwide has paid off. Preeta Bansal, who was earlier solicitor-general of New York and a White House counsel in the Clinton administration, was last night nominated to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), sources on Capitol Hill said. She will be the nominee of Senator Tom Daschle, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate. The USCIRF is made up of nominees by the US President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and leaders of both the Democrats and the Republicans in the House and the Senate.



The Commission has carried on a virulent campaign against India after last year's violence in Gujarat, blatantly colluding, in the opinion of many Hindu observers, with right-wing Christian organizations in America to hold hearings on Gujarat and put immense pressure on the US state department to declare India a "country of particular concern" (CPC) for its record in upholding religious freedom and minority religious rights. It is the same category assigned to totalitarian states such as Iran and hardly applicable to a country with India's thousands of years of religious freedom. CPCs in religious terms are the equivalent in terrorist terms of the list of "other terrorist groups" prepared by the state department annually before such organizations are listed formally as "foreign terrorist organizations" and penalized.



The USCIRF has no powers of its own, but it advises both the White House and the Congress on the state of global religious freedom. Even though its recommendations are regularly ignored by the State Department, it has a lot of nuisance value and can be a tool for propaganda, as it happened after the Gujarat violence. Hindu-Americans have always questioned the commission's credibility since it has never had an Indian or a Hindu among its members. American Sikhs have also been critical of the body. Its members so far have included representatives of Jews, Baha'is, Muslims and various Christian denominations.



Bansal, an highly respected expert on constitutional law, was born in Roorkee and arrived in the U.S. with her parents at the age of three. She is a graduate of the Harvard Law School. Last night, Indian Christian organizations in the U.S. were guarded in their reaction to Bansal's appointment. Jayachand Pallakonda, president of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) said: "I am very impressed with Ms Bansal's law background... I hope Ms Bansal also has a good understanding of the religious issues confronting South Asia especially India."



As New York Solicitor General, Ms. Bansal oversaw a staff of six hundred lawyers in the Department of Law, and directly supervised forty-five lawyers in the Solicitor General's Office who handle appeals for the State of New York and its agencies in state and federal courts. She argued regularly in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts on behalf of New York State.



She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa of Harvard-Radcliffe College, and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. She was Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review. She served as a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court (1990-1991) and to Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1989-1990). Prior to her appointment as New York Solicitor General, Ms. Bansal practiced law with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York City (1996-1999), and previously with Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. She also served in the Clinton Administration (1993-1996) as counselor to Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein in the United States Department of Justice (Antitrust Division), and as Special Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel. She is broadly interested in empowering South Asian Americans to serve their local communities in a variety of ways throughout the United States.




SARS Outbreak Indefinitely Postpones Mansarovar Yatra


Posted on 2003/5/25 9:48:02 ( 853 reads )

Times of India

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 24, 2003: It has been officially announced that the Kailash Mansarovar yatra has been postponed indefinitely due to the closure of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). The Indian government was informed by the Chinese authorities that they were not allowing any tourists into the TAR in an effort to keep the area SARS free. Therefore, the yatra which passes through the Lipulekh pass, has been postponed till the Chinese government opens up the route. Normally, the yatra begins in mid-June and continues till September with approximately 14 groups of pilgrims being sent every week. Announcing the postponement of the yatra, the external affairs ministry said on Thursday that the draw for the selection of yatris was also being postponed. The draw would be held once there was confirmation of the yatra and the number of batches and the yatris would be adjusted according to the amount of delay.




Trinidad's Dattatreya Yoga Center


Posted on 2003/5/25 9:47:02 ( 929 reads )

Source

FREEPORT, TRINIDAD, May 25, 2003: Trinidad's Dattatreya Yoga Center is currently undergoing a massive renovation, as reported in yesterday's HPI. H.H. Sri Ganapati Sachidananda Swami of Mysore, India, head of the yoga center will be attending the June inauguration ceremonies. In front of Sri Swami's residence, a small Karyasiddhi Hanuman under a mandapam has been constructed. Less than 200 feet away is the gigantic form of Lord Hanuman, 80 feet tall. The existing prayer hall is being renovated in traditional south Indian Temple architecture. The Datta temple, Devi Temple, Ganapati temple and Siva temple are being newly built with traditional temple towers and a front welcome tower. Twenty artisans from South India have been in Trinidad for the last two years working on this project. A detailed schedule of the events is available at "source" above along with photos of the temple construction.




Swami Chinmayananda is New Minister of State for Home Affairs


Posted on 2003/5/25 9:46:02 ( 1228 reads )

HPI

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 25, 2003: Yesterday Swami Chinmayananda, a sannyasin or Hindu monk, was taken into the Vajpayee Government as Minister of State for Home Affairs. Swami has the distinction of being the only saint in the Vajpayee government at the moment and as minister of state for Home Affairs, he will report directly to L.K. Advani.




Pushpagiri Math at Tirumala


Posted on 2003/5/25 9:45:02 ( 4816 reads )

Source

PUSHPAGIRI, INDIA, May 24, 2003: Head of Pushpagiri Peedam, His Holiness Vidya Nrusimha Bharathi Swami, has been working to spread Vedic dharma, moral values and virtues in the people of Andhra Pradesh. The Pushpagiri Mahasamsthanam has now constructed the Pushpagiri Mutt (monastery) at Tirumala on a piece of land given by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam at Medarmetta, Ring Road, for the convenience of devotees for performing marriages, upanayanams (sacred thread ceremony) and other religious functions, and including accommodation. This mutt was inaugurated by His Holiness Sri Madabhi Navoddanda Sri Nrusimha Bharathi Swamiji. The Pushpagiri Mutt is also planning to take up construction of similar mutts for the convenience of devotees at Sri Kalahasti, Sri Gyana Saraswathi Temple, Basar, Sri Thiruchanur Alamelumangapuram and Tenali within the next one year. Besides these projects, reconstruction and modernization will be undertaken at Pushpagiri, the abode of Pushpagiri Peedam in Cuddapah district.




Connaught Place Hanuman Temple Gets Protected Status


Posted on 2003/5/25 9:44:02 ( 887 reads )

Source

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 22, 2003: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday issued a notification to declare the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place a protected monument. Some other ancient temples in Delhi and other states may also be extended ASI's protection as part of a campaign launched by Tourism and Culture Minister Jagmohan to improve conditions in and around important religious shrines and pilgrimage spots. In a letter to the ASI director-general, Jagmohan said: "The Hanuman temple in New Delhi is an ancient monument which is visited by hundreds of people daily. Like the Kalkaji Temple, its antiquity is being ruined and its sanctity undermined. After visiting the site, I have decided that, as in the case of Kalkaji Temple complex, this temple should also be protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958," he wrote. After allowing two months for the public to register objections to the move, the archaeological body will issue a final notification.




Dowry-Busting Bride Becomes Role Model for Young Indian Women


Posted on 2003/5/24 9:49:02 ( 842 reads )

Source

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 23, 2003: A young Indian woman has become a celebrity for resisting her in-laws demands for a dowry and sending her groom to jail for it. Since her case first came to light, 21-year-old Nisha Sharma has received a series of awards, a slew of admiring suitors -- and even some copycats, with reports of at least 12 other cases of brides busting their would-be in-laws. Despite being banned 40 years ago, most Indian marriages still include a dowry of expensive gifts and cash that the bride's family has to give the groom's family -- sometimes wiping out their life savings in the process. Nisha's refusal to bow to that demand, even as guests gathered for her wedding, has turned her into a national icon. In the past few weeks, newspapers have reported at least a dozen similar cases where brides have sent their grooms packing. Women's rights activist Ranjana Kumari says the trend has come too late for tens of thousands of Indian women who have been killed for not bringing enough dowry. But, she says, there is hope. "With education the girls now are finding the confidence to reject a life of indignity and torture," she says. Trendsetter Nisha, herself a software engineering student, agrees. She is planning to use the cash awards she has just won to set up a school for girls, because she wants them to have the confidence to turn down unfair dowry demands.




Trinidad and Tobago Get New Hanuman Shrine


Posted on 2003/5/24 9:48:02 ( 803 reads )

Source

CARAPICHAIMA, TRINIDAD, May 24, 2003: A spiritually charged and beautiful shrine for Lord Hanuman will be consecrated on the grounds of the Dattatraya Yoga Center, Carapichaima, Trinidad, on June 12. The consecration will coincide with the unveiling of the Ashram Complex, which has been renovated to reflect authentic 12th century South Indian Hindu architecture, and the celebration of the 61st birthday of His Holiness Sri Ganapati Sachidananda Swami, the founder of the temple. President of the Center, Ramesh Persad-Maharaj, says the shrine is a way of paying tribute to our Indian ancestors, sadhus, pundits and those who preserved and protected the Hindu religion. Over 500 devotees from India, France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, England, Canada, America and other countries will be coming to take part in the celebrations. "This shrine will be a national site. It is for every creed and race. The consecration will bring blessing to Trinidad and Tobago. Nothing is done by accident. We believe Lord Hanuman never left Earth. The whole region and the world will benefit from this shrine. Swami's 61st birthday will also be celebrated and this will also bring special blessings for Trinidad and Tobago." Kindly contact "source" above for further information on the ceremonies.




Conversion Will Not Stop Prejudice Against Dalits


Posted on 2003/5/24 9:47:02 ( 855 reads )

Source

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 ( 899 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."


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