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Kerala Onam Celebration Gets Commercial

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:46:02 ( 917 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA September 1, 2003: Wherever they are, Keralites look forward to Onam as a great occasion to reminisce their long traditional past. But at home, part of the beauty and grace of the festival appears to have been lost to the demands of consumerism. With Onam just a week away, the state wears the look of an extended market place, as if the "festival of flowers" has turned into a "festival of fairs." Blaring mikes announcing discount sales, make-shift shops offering readymade garments to electronic goods and streets jammed by traffic as people come out in hordes for festival purchase -- the scene is the same in every town, and villages are not far behind in the mad rush. Gone are the days when children used to take time off their studies and go around picking flowers, singing Onam songs. Gone, too, are the days when the care-worn men used to plunge into the arena of rural sports, and women shed their shyness to display their artistic skills at the flower-bedecked front yard of homes.

India's Supreme Court: Nobody Has "Right to Convert"

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:45:02 ( 1007 reads )


NEW DELHI: There is no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one's own religion, and the government can impose certain restrictions keeping in view public order, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court's ruling came while dismissing a petition challenging an Orissa law requiring police verification of all religious conversions. Citing the SC's landmark 1977 ruling in Rev. Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, a Bench of Chief Justice V N Khare and Justice S B Sinha said that "what is freedom for one is freedom for the other, in equal measure."

At dispute was a 1999 provision added to the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, stipulating that a person wanting to convert to a particular religion must make a personal declaration which would be verified by the police also. Petitioner's counsel Janardhan Das said this provision was unwarranted as it makes a person wanting to convert to a religion of his choice a suspect in the eyes of law. As early as 1976, the Orissa High Court had struck down as unconstitutional the Orissa Act. It quashed all criminal proceedings against those who were alleged to have resorted to conversion through inducement or by "force" or "fraud." It had also held that the Act violated Article 25 (1) of the Constitution which guarantees propagation of religion and conversion -- something the petitioners had argued "is a part of the Christian religion."

On appeal, however, the SC in 1977 overturned the decision. Recalling that judgment by a Constitution Bench headed by the then Chief Justice A N Ray, the apex court said on Tuesday: "What Article 25(1) grants is not the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets." Thus, the court said, it must be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees "freedom of conscience to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion." It said: "The Article postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one's own religion because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, that would impinge on the freedom of conscience guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike."

Ganesha Chaturthi on Radio

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:44:02 ( 1134 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 31, 2003: This Ganesha Chaturthi, Mumbaikars can look forward to getting up-to-date information on the current happenings in the city at the touch of a dial. Radio Mirchi, 98.3 FM, is gearing up to keep Mumbaikars abreast with the latest happenings and information on the 10 days of Ganesha Chaturthi. From traffic updates and information on the one-ways and street closures in the city to live updates from the various Lord Ganesha pandals across Mumbai. Mumbaikars can tune in from 11 am to 5 pm on all the nine days of Ganesha Chaturthi and find out which icons are a must visit this year. On the 10th day (visarjana day), listeners can tune in to 98.3 FM for hourly updates live from Girgaum Chowpatty, where the Deity immersions take place.

Christian Family Returns to Hindu Fold

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:43:02 ( 962 reads )


ADILABAD, INDIA, August 31, 2003: Eighteen Christians belonging to one family in Adilabad town reconverted to Hinduism on Sunday. The reconversion and purification ceremonies were performed at 9:00 am at Gopala Krishna Mutt by its Mathadhipati (head monk), Sri Sri Sri Yogananda Swami, in a tranquil atmosphere. Members of the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other Sangh Parivar organizations, Municipal Chairman Lala Radheshyam and local representatives of the media were also present. The persons who underwent Shuddhi ceremony told the small gathering that they were re-embracing Hinduism of their own volition. At around 8"30 am, the 18 persons including three women and 11 children and youth led by the four brothers arrived at the Gopala Krishna Mutt to a quiet welcome. The four brothers Manohar, Israel, Bhushan and Samuel are all government employees working in different departments. They stressed on the fact that until about 50 years ago, their ancestors were Hindus. They acknowledged the greatness of Hinduism and wanted to reexperience it. Hence, their reconversion.

Third Royal Bath at Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:49:02 ( 1043 reads )

News Reports

NASIK, INDIA, September 1, 2003: Thousands of sadhus began the third Shahi Snan (royal bath) in Ramkund (a sacred lake) exactly at 8.00 am on the auspicious day of Vrishi Panchami, amidst tight police monitoring following the death of 35 persons during the second royal bath on August 27. Sadhus of various akaras (monastic orders) of the Tvaishnava sect reached Ramkund in grand procession complete with silver palanquins. Some sadhus carried carved silver maces and spears with silver rods. Others held golden icons of their deities and flags. About 150,000 pilgrims from different parts of the country are expected to take a holy dip on Monday. The final bath at Trimbakeshwar would be held on September 7. Ramkund will be closed for common pilgrims from 5.00 am to 12.00 pm and both entry and exit route for pilgrims have been re-planned. Common pilgrims will also be restricted from entering the the Shahi Snan route and allowed entry only after 12 pm. About nine thousand police personnel including three companies of state reserve police force have been deployed.

Our Hinduism Today reporter at Nasik, Mr. Rajiv Malik, reports that Shri Satish Shukla, the head of the priest's organization Ganga Godavari Panchkothi Purohit Sangh, was highly critical of the stopping of pilgrims many kilometres away from the main Ram Kund area where Shahi Snans took place. Satish Shukla told him, "The administration and police must manage the Mela in such a way that an ordinary pilgrim also gets the chance to watch the Shahi Snans. Hundreds of thousands of people who had come especially to watch their beloved saints have their royal bath were thoroughly disappointed by their being prevented from having darshana (sight) of saints having their Shahi Snan." He said that when pilgrims are around, the whole area resonates with energy, which is not happening now due to putting up of barricades and stopping the people many kilometres away from the venue of the royal bath.

Cambodia's Crusaders Of Lost Art

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:48:02 ( 1061 reads )


SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA, August 30, 2003: In addition to an appreciation of art, Uong Von's job as chief conservationist of the Khmer Art Museum requires a familiarity with semiautomatic weapons. "To work at Conservation d'Angkor you must love art and know how to defend it with an AK-47," said Uong Von. "I am a lover of art, but I am armed." Less than a mile from the legendary stone temples of Angkor Wat, the repository in Conservation d'Angkor houses more than 6,000 pieces of priceless Hindu Khmer art behind high walls draped with jungle shrubs and protected by gun-toting guards. While thousands will tour Angkor Wat this year, fewer than 200 visitors were permitted past the security guards and behind the heavy steel doors of the conservation repository in the last year. Newly found artifacts come in, but nothing leaves. Loan programs do not exist. Founded by the French colonial authorities in the early 20th century, conservation d'Angkor was originally charged with protecting all of Cambodia's ancient Khmer artifacts and temples. More than 1,000 stone temples were erected by the Khmer in a swathe across what is now Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Jungles reclaimed the temples and they were forgotten until French explorers in the 19th century began publishing accounts of the impossibly large stone structures. Fascination with the lost civilization launched a traffic in stolen artifacts. While French archaeologists brought several thousands of the first pieces to the repository for fear they could be stolen or damaged by the jungle, more than 60 items still arrive every year, usually as a result of foiled theft.

Celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi With Murthis Made of Natural Substances

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:47:02 ( 987 reads )


BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, August 30, 2003: Ganesha Chaturthi has been celebrated in grand style in the southern states for many years. It is only in the last few years that the festivities have taken on a new eco-friendly consciousness. Idol makers and devotees are being encouraged to make loving murthis from clay and other natural substances and to paint the icons with vegetable dyes, as they were a hundred years ago. This is in an ongoing effort to stop polluting major lakes and rivers with unnatural and nonbiodegradable substances, such as plastics and lead paint, that contaminate the water and endanger the lives of scores of species that naturally inhabit the bodies of water. The movement to make the Ganesha festivities more environmentally friendly has been driven by the Centre for Appropriate Rural Technologies (CART).

Hindu Youth Organization in Malaysia Wants to Protect Temples From Demolition

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:46:02 ( 981 reads )


PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA, August 21, 2003: A Malaysian Youth organization called the Serdang MIC Youth has been working vigorously to delay the demolition of seven temples in Serdang. The chief of MIC Youth, T. Mohan says, "We are strongly against the decision to demolish the temples as some of them have been in existence for several decades." Leading a delegation of 200 people, the youth wing along with members of the Hindu Religious Association Committee of Serdang presented a memoradum to the Selangor Housing and Property Board. A general election is approaching in Malaysia and this may help protect the temples as parties have been campaigning to gain the support of the Indian community. Mohan further adds, "I urge the state government and local councils to discuss the fate of the temples with the Hindu Sangam, the temple committee and the MIC divisions."

New Hindu Pre-School in Canada

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:45:02 ( 981 reads )


MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, August 29, 2003: The Canadian Hindu Arts and Cultural Society has announced that a new Hindu pre-school accommodating children 2-5 years of age will open on September 2. Called the Hindu Immersion School, the school's mission is to fully immerse and educate the young minds about Hinduism as well as teach Hindi and music. The community is proud of this accomplishment as the curriculum has been fully approved by the Ministry of Education. Contact: 7015 Tranmere Drive, Unit #7, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Phone: 416-723-5934

Jain Community Reflects on Year

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:44:02 ( 1051 reads )


September 1, 2003: Prakash Mody of Canada ("source" above) sent us this description of an admirable Jain custom.

"It is at this time, Kshmapana (which falls on August 31, September 1 or September 10, depending on the specific tradition), that Jains embark on their respective annual pratikramana, a reflection on their spiritual journey for the past year. On this day they also observe a unique custom, where they ask every individual they may have offended during the year for forgiveness. Old differences are forgotten and friendships and relationships renewed, as they fold their hands and ask for 'Micchami dukadam' or forgiveness. The following is the prayer we say while doing Pratikraman: 'Khamemi savve jive, savve jiva khamantu me, metti me savve bhuyesu, veram majaham n kenai.' It means: 'I forgive all living beings, and I beg for the forgiveness from all living beings. I have a friendship with everybody and I have no animosity toward anybody.' "

Mumbai Ready For Ganesha's Birthday

Posted on 2003/9/1 9:49:02 ( 918 reads )

Press Trust of India

MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA, August 31, 2003: The Elephant God Ganesh today descended on a 10-day sojourn to Earth as the festival began in Maharashtra amidst fanfare and revelry with police making elaborate security arrangement in view of the recent twin bomb blasts. Around 30,000 policemen have been deployed all over Mumbai to maintain law and order, and the police have sounded a high alert in the state. The police are being assisted by Rapid Action Force, State Reserve Police Force, National Cadet Corp and Home Guards. For the first time, Ganesh mandals (temporary temples set up in the streets) have drawn the services of volunteers and private security guards to help police in maintaining law and order. As a part of the security exercise, the police have resorted to combing operations at five checkpost in Mumbai. The bags of commuters in buses, cars and private taxis are being checked at random. Yesterday, police had issued orders curtailing the use of firecrackers during the festival. About 800 sarvajanik Ganapati Mandal are participating in the festival. Scores of devotees offered flowers, the traditional modak and fruits, urging Ganesh, the harbinger of good omen, to bring in peace and incident-free atmosphere in the city. Men and women, wearing orange bandanas, danced to the beats of the drums, filling the air with chants of Ganpati Bapa Morya, as they ushered the elephant-headed God into their homes and installed him with great fanfare and pomp. Lord Ganesh, popularly known by several names -- Siddhivinayak, the giver of boons, Nadapratithistha the lover of music and Devadhidev, the Lord of Lords -- was welcomed into various households with the traditional aarti.

Ganesha Spirit Pervades Hyderabad

Posted on 2003/9/1 9:48:02 ( 988 reads )

Deccan Chronicle

HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA, August 29, 2003: Devotees throng shops and stalls to buy Ganesha icons for installation on Sunday, when the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations begin. Ganesha icons in varied colors and sizes are on display at the shops. The biggest icon installed at Khairatabad has become the central attraction with devotees from different parts of the city coming to have a glimpse of it. The 43 ft tall, 22 ft wide icon will be unveiled for public prayers on Sunday. Meanwhile, celebrating the festival spirit, Shilparamam has organized a dance festival "Vishwa Vinayaka" at Shilpakala Vedika. Cultural programs were presented by troupes which had arrived all the way from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Coimbatore with music and dance in association with the acclaimed Temple of fine Arts of Malaysia.

Ganesha Festival to be a Low Key Affair in Visakhapatnam

Posted on 2003/9/1 9:47:02 ( 1027 reads )


VISAKHAPATNAM, ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA, August. 29, 2003: Ganesh Chaturthi celebration committees in the city are disappointed by all the restrictions imposed on them by the police, municipal corporation and the Eastern Power Distribution Company. Most of the festival committees have decided to reduce the celebrations to three or six days, from the regular nine or 11 days. The municipal corporation issued orders to the Ganesh Utsav committees not to dig roads for pegging tents. They can only use tar drums to plant sticks to support the tents. City Planner P. Thimma Reddy told the Deccan Chronicle that the committees would be fined if they damaged the roads. The Eastern Power Distribution Company officials have been warning house-owners against allowing their power connections to be used for the Ganesh Utsav tents. People seeking to celebrate the festival should take Tatkal connections, paying between US$31 and $61 depending on their consumption. While agreeing to obey police orders and take mike permission for $2.08 per day for every pandal (tent), the Utsava committee convenor Baliwada Ravi Kumar said the committees would fight the municipal corporation authorities on not digging roads. He told the Deccan Chronicle that "It is impossible to pitch a pandal for more than a week without standard supporting posts from the ground." The city police has warned Ganesh Utsav committees against dancing to recorded music, using double-meaning dialogue during the Hari Kathas, obstructing traffic or inconveniencing people with noise pollution. Ravi Kumar said donations had decreased due to the rise in the number of Utsav committees, the localized donation system and police restrictions.

Andhra Pradesh Government to Sell Temple Lands

Posted on 2003/9/1 9:46:02 ( 1012 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, August 29, 2003: As a gesture to ryots, (small and marginal farmers), the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to sell temple land now held by ryots under lease to them if they want to purchase the land and if such a deal benefits the temple concerned. The ryots will be asked to pay only two-thirds of the market value prevailing in the village or town and in four installments. The definition for ryot for this purpose has been revised to mean one holding not more than five acres of dry land, including the temple land, or not more than 2.5 acres of wet land and having an income of not more than $20 per month and not owning a building worth $417 or vacant site not exceeding 200 sq. yards in a municipality. The Minister for Endowments, D. Sivarama Raju, denied the allegation that the policy of open auction of temple lands for lease had hit the landless poor and small/marginal farmers, with some of them losing whatever temple land they possessed under the old policy to landlords and the rich who could quote high bids. However, the minister said there was no bar preventing anybody from participating in the auction. What all the department wanted was to improve its earnings for the temple out of their lands

Indians in New Worlds: Study of Mauritius and Trinidad

Posted on 2003/9/1 9:45:02 ( 1093 reads )


MAURITIUS/TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, 1992: Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean and Mauritius off of Africa are both poly-ethnic island-states with large population segments of Indian origin. Brought to British islands colonies, particularly plantation colonies, during the British colonial indentureship scheme from ca 1840 to ca. 1910, the Indians were in both societies politically marginal until the electoral reforms of the post-war years. There are similarities and differences in the situation of Indians in Trinidad and Mauritius. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, the author of this lengthy and informative article, compares the respective positions of Indians in the two nation-states, paying particular attention to the relationship between the wider socio-cultural contexts of daily life and national politics.

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