Hindu Press International


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UK Hindus Have Three-Day Vedic Ceremony to Instill Life in New Murthis

Posted on 2002/11/13 8:45:02 ( 643 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, September 13, 2002: Gods and Goddesses were enlivened in elaborate Vedic ceremonies held the middle of September at the southeast London Maha Lakshmi Vidya Bhavan. Devotees from the United Kingdom, Canada, America, Finland, India, Guyana and Trinidad pilgrimaged to the 3-day event called the Murthi Sthaapna celebration. Spearheaded by Param Pujya Swami Gopal Sharan Ji Maharaj of Shri Golok Dham Ashram, New Delhi, the grand puja culminated on Sunday, September 15 when the murthis were decorated with jewels and beautiful garlands. "Tears of happiness, joy and blissfulness filled the hearts of all, the external world became nonexistent as the focus on the Murthis was so intense," Pandit Ramesh Charan, founder member and priest of the Mandir hosting the event, said. "This is truly a historic occasion in the reawakening of Divinity in the hearts of all present here."




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Animal Rights Group Raises Abuse Questions of Thailand's Elephants

Posted on 2002/11/13 8:44:02 ( 757 reads )


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BANGKOK,THAILAND, November 10, 2002: An animal rights group has urged tourists to stop visiting Thailand, accusing the kingdom of abusing elephants for tourism. In a video released by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, a baby elephant was shown separated from its mother during what's called a "Phajaan ceremony" at an elephant camp in the Thailand. This is a process where the calf is severely abused so that the so-called trainers can tame the animal enough for tourists to pet and feed it. The footage has provoked an uproar in Thailand, where elephants are treated as a royal symbol and are revered by many. The Thai government is taking the claims very seriously. In response, officials have announced plans to prosecute elephant trainers who are found guilty of torturing the animals. Fearing a tourist ban to elephant camps, many organizers have taken pains to show how an elephant separation is actually conducted, with rituals and care for the animals. But many question the need to separate the calf from its mother in the first place. Especially when many elephants that are separated end up on the streets of Bangkok, vying for tourist dollars, and living on empty land next to expressways. Activists have called for new laws to protect elephants.




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Short of Land, India's Christians Turn to Cremation

Posted on 2002/11/13 8:43:02 ( 662 reads )


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PATNA, INDIA, November 11, 2002: Christians in densely populated areas are increasingly turning to the Hindu tradition of cremation as cemeteries get more crowded. As younger Christians spruced up the graves of their ancestors recently for All Souls Day, many of them said they were willing to opt for cremation rather than burial when their time comes. "Cremation is a viable and modern alternative," said Deepak Simon, a minister in the Church of North India in Bihar. With the billion-plus population converging on cities at an alarming rate, Christian cremations are also likely to become more commonplace. For some believers, cremation goes against Christianity's basic tenets. "Christians' faith that bodies in the graves will rise to life on the Day of Resurrection prevents the notion of cremation of bodies," said M. Joseph. Others, however, welcome the eco-friendly way of disposing the dead that would put Christians closer in practice to most Indians. "Indian Christians in all their social functions, like marriages and childbirth, observe local and regional cultural traditions. The point is, when Indian traditions can be followed in life why not in death?" asked Binu Jose, a Roman Catholic. Cremation remains forbidden, however, for Muslims. But Islamic leaders are also also urging changes. Muslims are now generally banned from their custom of concrete tombs, which took up major space. And Muslims can now bury their dead in the same plot three months after the last funeral there. In the US, cremation is the second most common form of disposition, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The association reports that the percentage of cremation in the United States and Canada has increased steadily in recent decades. In the 1960s, about 3 to 4 percent of all deaths were disposed by cremation. Today, the amount is 23 to 24 percent. Similarly, the Chicago-based Cremation Association of North America projects that by the year 2010, the level of cremation in the United States will be 32.5 percent. In England and Japan, cremation is the most common form of disposition.




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Koreans Search for Roots in Ayodhya

Posted on 2002/11/10 8:49:02 ( 1686 reads )


Source: Vinay Krishna Rastogi, Lucknow





AYODHYA : A high-power delegation from South Korea visited Ayodhya to revive two millennia-old ties with the temple town. The South Koreans discovered that a Princess of Ayodhya was married to Korean King Suro in the first century CE. Suro was the King of Kimhay kingdom or the present Korea. The Princess was married to the Korean King at the age of 16. The Koreans believe that the Princess was the mother of the descendants who unified various Korean kingdoms in the 7th century CE. Since the first century CE her descendants prospered and became the largest clan in Korea, known as the Karak, whose members had been highly distinguished people. The present President of South Korea Kim Dae-Jung believes that he is also a descendant of the Great Princess of Ayodhya. She is regarded as the most blessed queen of Korea in the last 2,000 years, and Koreans believe that this could be due to the religious significance of the great temple city of Ayodhya where Lord Rama was born. The Counsel General of Korea said "I hope historians will be able to learn more about this great ancient Hindu city." He urged the ex-Raja of Ayodhya BPN Misra to strengthen the cultural ties between Ayodhya and South Korea.




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New Hindu Magazine in Trinidad.

Posted on 2002/11/10 8:48:02 ( 783 reads )


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TRINIDAD, November 10, 2002: The Caribbean Cultural Council (ICC) wishes to announce the publication and sale of its latest souvenir magazine, Divali 2002 in Trinidad and Tobago. The theme of the magazine is cultural ecology or, alternatively, religion and the environment. Hindus comprise the second largest religious groups in Trinidad and Tobago after Roman Catholics. Most Indians are Hindus, and Indians form just over half of the population (1.3 million) of the tiny Caribbean island. For thousands of Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, Divali -- The Festival of Lights -- is a sacred day. On this public holiday, other nationals join in the celebration, lighting clay lamps at public celebrations, and visiting Hindu friends who welcome them warmly into their homes. To order the Divali 2002, Souvenir Magazine, contact "source" above.




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Swami Vivekananda's Influence in America and India

Posted on 2002/11/10 8:47:02 ( 771 reads )


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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, November 7, 2002: This interesting article by Frank Parlato begins, "The city of Chicago has been the Western architect for Hinduism in America. It was here that Swami Vivekananda, the first Hindu monk to come to the West, introduced Yoga and Hinduism at the World's Parliament of Religions to America, in 1893. It commenced with Vivekananda's historic speech which began, "Sisters and brothers of America..." and prompted an audience of 7,000 to rise to its feet in a surprising ovation. He achieved a stunning success which led to world-wide recognition. Chicago was the catalyst. The broad acceptance and respect for the ancient teachings of the East that followed in his wake profoundly and permanently affected the East and the West. ..." The article contains many quotes on Vivekananda's influence.




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Singapore Vinayaka Temple Rebuilt by Hindus and Non-Hindus

Posted on 2002/11/9 8:49:02 ( 672 reads )


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SINGAPORE, November 9, 2002: The rebuilding of Sri Senpaga Vinayaka temple is almost complete. A consecration ceremony for the 127-year-old Hindu Temple, often referred to as the Ceylon Road temple, will be held on February 7, 2003. Funds for the work came not only from Hindus but also non-Hindu Singaporeans, including Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. They contributed more than US$280,000 of the $2.8 million raised so far for work on the Katong landmark. More than 20 craftsmen from India have been working on the building, creating intricate carvings on the walls and roof. Four craftsmen are putting the finishing touches to more than 200 sculptures of Gods and two are painting scenes featuring Lord Vinayaka. A total of 15 kg of gold is being melted and pressed into leaves for the building's dome.




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Singapore Children Learn About Rangoli Art on Deepavali

Posted on 2002/11/9 8:48:02 ( 901 reads )


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SINGAPORE, November 4, 2002: A group of children spent Deepavali at the museum learning about rangoli, an ancient art traditionally seen on the ground in front of Hindu homes. The audience were left spellbound by the intricate patterns and colors used. Mrs. Vijaya Mohan, rangoli artist, explained that 'rang' means color and rangoli means you are expressing your happiness through colors. The children enjoyed a hands-on experience making rangolis, but instead of the usual colored powder mixed with rice flour, they used beans. Besides rangoli, the children also learnt to paint traditional oil lamps to remember the Festival of Lights.




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Deepavali Cell Phone Messages Clog Networks

Posted on 2002/11/9 8:47:02 ( 898 reads )


Source: The Hindustan Times





NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 5, 2002: Nine million SMS (Short Message Service) messages were sent across the airwaves on Deepavali, sending Delhi's mobile messaging highways into gridlock. The SMS surge slowed things to a crawl for the better part of Monday. According to estimates, close to nine million SMS messages were exchanged by cell phone users in Delhi alone, with Airtel recording nearly 1.9 million messages on Monday. The previous day the number was around 1.4 million. Hutch, a second wireless phone system, recorded SMS traffic of close to 5 million during the period. "That represents a 500 percent jump over normal usage. Compared to last Deepavali, New Year or Holi, the rush was unprecedented," said Hutch officials. On a national basis, over 25 million messages were generated. It was not just simply "Happy Deepavali," text SMS, lengthy, flashing and picture messages with different ring tones fought for airspace.




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Jewish Groups Face Post 9/11 Insurance Hikes

Posted on 2002/11/9 8:46:02 ( 760 reads )


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UNITED STATES, August 14, 2002: In the aftermath of Sept. 11, Jewish institutions are struggling with new insurance rates -- 50 percent increases or more in some cases -- that threaten to consume critical funds. These institutions -- including Jewish community centers, synagogues and organizations -- are fighting to maintain their protection in the event of a devastating terrorist attack. The situation is the result of major changes in the insurance industry, which suffered staggering losses from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Insurance companies have distributed those costs to their clients and are also cutting back on providing the terror coverage they once routinely did. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation league, has sent letters to the White House and congressional leaders to urge examination of the issue. Rates are going up for everyone, according to P.J. Crowley, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit group sponsored by the insurance industry. "Are Jewish groups being singled out? No," he said. "But insurers are being selective in providing coverage." Insurers have little to go on to determine risk factor, said Gary Karr, spokesman for the American Insurance Association, except for the examples of Sept. 11 and government warnings. Indeed, the FBI issued widely publicized warnings to Jewish institutions earlier this year. In the event that Hindu temples become a target of violence in the U.S., they would face the same problem.




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Thiruvannamalai Temple Caught Between Tamil Nadu Government and ASI

Posted on 2002/11/8 8:49:02 ( 716 reads )


Source: Times of India





CHENNAI, INDIA, November 7, 2002: The famous Arunachaleshwarar temple, dedicated to Siva and built in the year 700, is located atop Arunachala Hill at Thiruvannamalai Temple, 200 km from Chennai. A huge sacred fire that burns on the hilltop during Karthika Deepam, November/December, can be seen from as far as 40 km, and thousands of devotees throng the temple at this time of the year. The fate of the temple is now caught in a dispute between the Tamil Nadu government and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). The state government decided to file a writ of petition in the Madras High Court challenging the preliminary notification issued by the ASI to take over the famous temple. The Tamil Nadu government believes, "The temple has now grown to be a religious center of international importance, more as an abode of faith than as a site of mere archaeological importance. Therefore, there is no ground for the Central government to issue a gazette notification for taking over the temple, which is highly unwarranted."




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Smugglers Killing India's Sandalwood Market

Posted on 2002/11/8 8:48:02 ( 715 reads )


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MYSORE, INDIA, November 8, 2002: Aromatic sandalwood is on its way to becoming an endangered species thanks to rampant smuggling. With it a long-standing tradition could die, to be replaced by ersatz perfume. Sandalwood has been used by tens of millions across South Asia for centuries. From Myanmar to Maharashtra, its oil and wood have been used in incense, medicinal paste for the skin, ornaments, and as a base for a traditional perfume called attar, hugely popular in the Middle East. The demand for Karnataka sandalwood, the most aromatic and most sought after, is so great that poachers have raided old bungalows in Bangalore with sandalwood trees on their grounds, beating watchmen to death to get at the trees. Sandalwood is grown in small quantities in the Asian Pacific area, but India has a virtual monopoly over production. More then 90 per cent of India's sandalwood is grown in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. But while Karnataka and Tamil Nadu protect sandalwood and it is illegal to be in possession of more than 20 kg, neighboring Kerala does not. From the tropical jungles of the Kabini catchment, it is just a few kilometers to Kerala, making it easy for smugglers or unscrupulous traders tampering with the terms of their licenses. Sandalwood production has fallen from 4,000 tons per year in the 1960's to less than 1,000 tons in the 1990's. True sandalwood oil has virtually disappeared from the international market, and has been replaced by synthetics. Today, the words "classic sandalwood" often seen on incense packages is a misnomer; the base is usually synthetic, with some amount of sandalwood chip shavings. Chairman of Haripriya Agarbathies, R. Vasu, who dominates the huge incense market, said that if a packet of standard incense retailing at about 25 rupees (US$0.53), were to contain genuine sandalwood oil, it would be so expensive that nobody would buy it.




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Protectors of India's Cows Seek Extra Help

Posted on 2002/11/8 8:47:02 ( 752 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 7, 2002: Home to 200 million cows, India has banned their killing everywhere except Kerala and some northeastern states. In August 2001, the Central Government established a National Commission for Cattle to suggest ways of improving their condition, especially cows. The commission recommended that a Rapid Cow Protection Force on the lines of other paramilitary forces be instituted, which can operate on an all-India basis for prevention of cow slaughter. The commission's report said those who slaughter cows or smuggle them to Bangladesh, Kerala and illegal slaughterhouses should be booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It recommended a ban on crossbreeding involving imported cattle like Jersey. Indigenous breeds should be encouraged and import of cattle prohibited (because the imported breeds are not well adapted to India's conditions). Many people believe that making cow slaughter illegal would just move the industry underground, resulting in more cruelty towards the animals. The recommendations also further worry the leather industry, which is worth US$4 billion and employs thousands of people. Many retailers like Gap, Donna Karan, and Timberland already refuse to buy Indian leather because of protests by animal rights groups against the ill treatment of cattle in India and their brutal killing in slaughterhouses. There are others who believe that the leather industry would be on the brink of disaster if the government accepts the recommendations of the commission.




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Sanskrit Website Developer Seeks Input

Posted on 2002/11/8 8:46:02 ( 921 reads )


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USA, November 8, 2002: This Sanskrit/English web site developers are requesting reader's suggestions in the following areas: simplifying the spellings, joining of letters, sandhi, conjuncts, etc., in the devbhasa. HPI readers fluent in Sanskrit (and you'll need to be to read the site) may log on to "source" above and offer your suggestions and assistance.




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Yoga Initiates a Fashion Trend

Posted on 2002/11/8 8:45:02 ( 742 reads )


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SINGAPORE, November 7, 2002: For an ancient discipline based on relaxation, yoga looks set to stir up a frenzy in the fitness wear business. Spurred on by the growing popularity of yoga, fashion labels are coming up with apparel that won't split when you stretch. From active wear brands like Nike to casual wear labels like British India and Liz Claiborne, retailers are stretching their merchandise range to include apparel suitable for the exercise. For example, Nike launched its yoga line, Nike Organics, in the United States in January. Yoga wear does not necessarily mean loose clothes. With modern technology, yoga apparel is designed to withstand the rigors of body-contorting poses and to not split open or be revealing. Brands like Prana and the Christy Turlington designed Nuala by Puma incorporate the latest in body-cooling, breathable fibers like Coolmax, Polyamide, Tactel and Dri-Fit, which also conceal unglamorous sweat stains.




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