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Asians Again Drive Uganda's Economy

Posted on 2003/8/18 9:47:02 ( 1144 reads )


KAMPALA, UGANDA, August 17, 2003: Thirty-one years ago, Idi Amin started a campaign to remove Asians from this country. He expropriated their homes and businesses. As they trooped to the airport and highways, his soldiers robbed them along the way. Now, with Mr. Amin's reign of terror long over, there are strong signs of an Asian revival here. Many of the Asians that Mr. Amin expelled have picked up their lives in Uganda again. Although they represent less than one percent of the country's population, Asians own Ugandan banks, hotels and foreign exchange bureaus. They manufacture bicycles, jewelry and tissue paper, run pharmacies, sell insurance, and dominate the sugar industry. There are an estimates 15,000 Asians living in Uganda today, far fewer than the 80,000 or so, mostly Indians and Pakistanis, during Mr. Amin's time. But estimates put the amount of investment that they have made in Uganda over the past decade at somewhere close to $1 billion. The current government has been pro-business, urging investment from people of any ancestry. Giving confiscated property back to the ousted Asians was the government's first step in soothing relations. Many of the Asians forced out of Uganda have not taken up President Yoweri Museveni's call to return, disgusted by the country that uprooted them. But thousands have opted to give Uganda a second chance.

UK Family's Jaffna Mixed Homecoming

Posted on 2003/8/18 9:46:02 ( 941 reads )


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, August 11, 2003: The Balarajah family from London had an unusual summer holiday this year -- three days in a former war zone in northern Sri Lanka. "After so many years we are going back and it's going to be a surprise for us. I hope it's not going to be a shock," says 53-year-old Athithapillai Balarajah, a Tesco supermarket store manager born and raised in Jaffna. He is among the one million Tamils who fled Sri Lanka's civil war two decades ago -- some of whom are now returning home for the first time to rediscover their past. With all their relatives having fled Sri Lanka, the Balarajahs do not know what to expect in Jaffna. Mr. Balarajah is lucky -- his house is still standing, though covered in bullet marks. He is greeted by total strangers living there who are victims of the civil war with nowhere else to go. They welcome the visitors from London and soon there are tears as a neighbor recognizes Mr. Balarajah and his sister. Mr. Balarajah's wife, Vijayakumari, is not so lucky. The house where she grew up is a wreck -- the garden she remembered looking after as a child now unrecognizable. As their parents struggle with their emotions, 15-year-old Sharmili and her 12-year-old brother Shankar -- both born in Britain -- struggle to relate to Jaffna. Sharmili says now she appreciates the luxuries of her lifestyle in England and Shankar is just looking forward to the part of the holiday when they leave Sri Lanka and go to Thailand. Civil war has driven the generations apart, and young British Tamils find it hard to see the attraction of a place like Jaffna, says this article.

The Faithful in Kolkata Flock to the Birla Mandir

Posted on 2003/8/18 9:45:02 ( 936 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, August 15, 2003: The imposing Shri Radha Krishna Temple in the heart of upscale Ballygunje has emerged as the prime spiritual destination for the people of the city. The grandiose structure -- a classic blend of temple architecture of Orissa and South India -- attracts more than 2.5 million devotees a year. Spread over 22,000 sq ft, the temple is managed by the Vishwa Mangal Trust chaired by former MP and prominent industrialist Dr. Krishna Kumar Birla. The temple took almost 26 years to build and was inaugurated by former Union minister Dr. Karan Singh on February 21, 1996. Rising to over 160 ft, the temple is an architectural marvel in itself. Forty-two gavakshas with carved images from ancient Hindu iconography form the facade.

Devotees Pilgrimaging to Kailash Share Their Experience

Posted on 2003/8/18 9:44:02 ( 950 reads )

News Reports

TAMIL NADU, INDIA, August 10, 2003: When those devotees fortunate enough to pilgrimage to Kailash and Manasarovar returned home, they shared their testamonies of the experience at the Siva Temple in Erode. About 1,000 devotees gathered for a special abhishekam (Deity worship) and homan (fire worship) followed by the guest pilgrim speakers. Eighty people from Tamil Nadu, who had darshan of Mount Kailash, were present at the function. Mrs. Vasanth Sengottiyan shares her experience, "When they take a holy dip in the Maanasarovar, the devotees feel that there is a great purity entered into their mind and heart. Her own personal experience is Siva talked to her in person while she was at the feet of the Lord in Kailash." Dr. Jayalakshmi Jagadeesan says, "Staying on the banks of Manasarovar at night about 3 o'clock she heard a sound. When she came out of her tent, she saw a miracle. From the sky thousands of stars glittering and powerfully shining -- stars gently coming down and took a dip in the Maanasarovar." At the end of the evening, each devotee who visited Kailash was honored with a special shawl.

Sri Lankan Buddhists Welcome Ruling Against Unethical Conversions

Posted on 2003/8/17 9:49:02 ( 952 reads )


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, August 13, 2003: Buddhist organizations in Sri Lanka have welcomed a Supreme Court decision to prevent proselytizing or religious conversions and to deny legal status to two Christian organizations. A three-judge bench held in two judgements that while the Sri Lankan constitution upheld a citizen's right to worship and practice his or her religion, it did not recognize a fundamental right to propagate a religion. The court was hearing two petitions against two bills presented in parliament seeking legal status for two Christian organizations. The All Ceylon Buddhist Women's Congress (ACWBC) challenged the bills. "The ACWBC has scored a tremendous legal victory over fundamentalist cults trying to subvert poor Buddhists and Hindus by offering financial and other allurements," said Buddhist activist Senaka Weeraratne. NJC secretary Piyasena Dissanayake said, "We respect the right of an individual to change his or her religion, but it should not be as a result of financial or other material inducements." Buddhist organizations have been agitating against Christian groups and cults which they say are active in rural areas and offer people money, clothing and books in exchange for converting. Other benefits include medical facilities, child education and providing care for infants, the elderly, orphans, the destitute and the sick.

Meditation Helps Produce Antibodies

Posted on 2003/8/17 9:48:02 ( 975 reads )


WASHINGTON, USA, August 15, 2003: A study has found people practicing meditation for eight weeks have the ability to produce more antibodies to a flu vaccine and showed increased activity in areas of the brain related to positive emotion than individuals who did not meditate. The study is the first to connect meditation to changes in brain activity associated with positive feeling, and the first to show that mediation can affect immune function, says Dr. Richard J. Davidson of the University of Wisconsin and his colleagues. "Our findings indicate that a short training program in mindful meditation has demonstrable effects on brain and immune function and underscores the need for additional research on the biological consequences of this intervention," a report in the Newswire quoted Davidson as saying. Forty-eight biotechnology company employees participated in the study, in which half of them received weekly meditation training. All participants also received a flu vaccine during the study. At several points during the study, the researchers measured brain activity as the employees rested or wrote about positive and negative emotional experiences from their lives. They also tracked immune responses among the employees by measuring the level of antibodies produced by the flu vaccination. It was found that those meditating experienced more electrical activity in the relevant areas of the brain and higher levels of antibodies than employees who did not meditate.

New Trade Plan Between Nepal And Tibet

Posted on 2003/8/17 9:47:02 ( 968 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, August 13, 2003: China and Nepal are hoping to increase trade and tourism through the possible opening of two ancient Himalayan crossings and allowing helicopters to travel from Nepal to Mt. Kailas, a major Hindu pilgrimage site in Tibet. An agreement to make tourism easier was signed last week by a visiting delegation from Chinese-ruled Tibet and Nepal's tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry, although any deal still needs approval from Beijing, officials said. Nepal has only one land crossing with Tibet. But officials say Nepal wants to increase trade and sees a new urgency as Beijing and New Delhi move to reopen an international border between Tibet and the Indian state of Sikkim just east of the kingdom. Nepal imports $83.3 million worth of goods each year through its Kodari border post with Tibet and earns around $20 million in customs revenue, according to official figures. The proposed new border posts would be at Kerung and Nangpa La, 140 miles and 160 miles, respectively, northeast of Katmandu. HPI adds: A report has been received from Alan Tait (avalan@net-tech.com.au) that the Chinese government in Tibet plans to build a modern road around Kailas. Anyone having additional information on the road please e-mail hpi@hindu.org.

Lost Pilgrims are Reunited With Their Families

Posted on 2003/8/17 9:46:02 ( 958 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 13, 2003: Thanks to the local administration, all but three of the 3,000 people who got lost in the huge crowd were reunited with their families by the end of the day. This year attendance at the Kumbh is estimated to be 3.5 million pilgrims and sadhus. When 85-year old Bhushan Mali completed his ritual bath, he got separated from his son and family. Mali says, "I had gone for my bath, but when I came back, no one was there." The police booth where lost people congregate for assistance is very busy. It is no easy task reuniting families in the huge crowd and the language barrier sometimes presents a problem. Despite these obstacles, the administration still tries to unite all people with their families before the day is over.

Launching The Hindu Renaissance Quarterly Journal

Posted on 2003/8/17 9:45:02 ( 1115 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 8, 2003: In October of this year, the Hindu Samaj is launching a quarterly journal whose mission is, "to vigorously facilitate both scholarly leadership and intellectual development that would be the driving force behind the Hindu Renaissance." Inviting articles from competent scholars, reviews and relevant research studies, THR will uphold the vision of Param Vaibhavshali. For more information about this quarterly journal contact: Pramod Kumar Chief Editor, THR 22, Hirkani, Pandurang Wadi, 3rd Lane, Goregaon, Mumbai 400 063, India. Tel: 022-2876 2361 or email "Source" above

Mahasamadhi Festival for Shirdi Sai Baba

Posted on 2003/8/17 9:44:02 ( 1033 reads )


ORLANDO, FLORIDA, August 6, 2003: Devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba are invited to attend a Mahasamadhi Festival in Orlando, Florida on October 4 - 5, 2003. Called Shirdi Sai Utsav 2003, the gathering will focus on the spiritual teachings of the late guru as well as participate in a Sai Naam Jaap Yagna. For more details, devotees are encouraged to contact: Sai Sharan, 5230 Cona Reef Court, Orlando, Florida, 32810-4075 USA, Phone: (407) 445-2520 or email "Source" above.

NY Indian Restaurant Gives Free Meals During Blackout

Posted on 2003/8/16 9:49:02 ( 939 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, August 16, 2003: As New York reeled under a severe power blackout, an Indian restaurant owner earned much praise for traditional Indian hospitality. When the lights failed Thursday night, several restaurants downed shutters. Those that remained open doubled or tripled their prices, but the stranded had nowhere else to go. As ATM machines did not work and credit cards became useless, those with little cash had a tough time. In this greedy jungle, Madras Mahal on Lexington Avenue, owned by Nitin Vyas, offered free meals to the hungry. More importantly, it provided free cold water when the going rate for a small drinking water bottle was five dollars compared to usual one dollar. The restaurant served rice with the Punjabi dish Channa-Bhatura and tea, which was much in demand. Even last afternoon, there was a queue of hungry people outside the restaurant waiting for a free meal.

Sanskar TV To Broadcast Mt. Kailash Yatra

Posted on 2003/8/16 9:48:02 ( 966 reads )


INDIA, August 13, 2003: Starting this Sunday (August 17) at 9:00 am, Sanskar Television will be broadcasting a serial of Parmarth's Divine Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash Yatra. The yatra was inspired and led by H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, and was graced by the presence of numerous spiritual leaders. The series will broadcast on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sunday of every month at 9:00 am for at least 10 episodes. A two-hour video of the yatra will be available in a couple of weeks. To advance order a copy, click on "source" above.

Adapting The Ways Of Worship

Posted on 2003/8/16 9:47:02 ( 937 reads )


USA, August 10, 2003: Swami Dheerananda surveyed campers as they gathered before him for story hour, begins this story in the Washington Post. "One day, a group of people wanted to find out the difference between heaven and hell. So they got on a spaceship and zoomed to hell." The hell that the group encountered, he said, boasted the stuff of which dreams are made: food, movies and video games. But there was a catch: Dwellers in hell could not move their elbows. With stiff limbs, eating turned into a most complicated affair; most resorted to throwing food up in the air with hopes of catching some morsels in their mouths. Heaven, he said, looked exactly the same. Even there, elbows didn't bend. So how did people eat? "They fed each other," said Dheerananda. "Heaven means where you serve the other. Hell means where you serve yourself." Most of the children enrolled in summer camp at the Chinmaya Mission Washington Regional Center in Silver Spring are Hindu. Their parents likely believe in reincarnation, not the idea of heaven or hell as a physical place. Dheerananda, the spiritual head of the mission, has learned to weave a story to which Hindus growing up in a predominantly Christian society can relate. Many non-Christian immigrants are keeping their religions alive in America by looking for methods from an unlikely place: Christian churches. In other examples from Buddhist temples to Sikh gurdwaras, immigrant congregations hold Sunday school, summer camps, discussion groups and singing practice --activities often unheard of or in different format in their homelands. HPI adds: Hindu temples can also benefit by acquiring the designation of "church" from the US federal Internal Revenue Service. The designation can apply to an organization of any religion that meets the requirements. The advantages of the "church" designation, acquired, for example, by Sringeri Sadhana Center (attached to Sringeri Mutt) in Pennsylvania, Barsana Dham in Texas and Saiva Siddhanta Church (parent organization of HPI) in Hawaii, will be readily apparent to a temple's lawyer and certified public accountant.

Many facets to Festival of India

Posted on 2003/8/16 9:46:02 ( 1203 reads )


ATLANTA, USA, August 15, 2003: The annual Festival of India in Atlanta was inaugurated by the former U.N. ambassador, Andrew Young, on August 15, 2003. The three-day affair is expected to draw thousands of people from nearby cities and states. The Festival of India, considered the flagship event for metro Atlanta's 50,000 Indian-Americans, also serves to "showcase its culture, heritage, cuisine, music, dance and more to the American mainstream as well as [Indian-American] youngsters who are born in this country," said Narsi L. Narasimhan of Chamblee. "It's a wonderful way to celebrate the Independence Day [Aug. 15] of India -- the largest democracy in the world -- in America, the strongest democracy in the world." Visit www.iaca.info for a complete listing of Festival of India events and fees.

Prakash Gossai Completes Religious Tour of Guyana

Posted on 2003/8/16 9:45:02 ( 930 reads )


GUYANA, August 16, 2003: Jugool Narine ("source" above) writes to HPI: "Shri Prakash Gossai is an internationally renowned Hindu preacher originally from Handsome Tree, Mahaicony, Guyana and now a famous marine biologist in New York. He heads New York's Bhouveneshwar Mandir. He is now in Guyana performing a series of bhajana satsangs (meetings of spiritual discourse and singing) throughout this country. Tomorrow, Sunday, August 17, he concludes a yagna (fire ceremony) in Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, Guyana, and he would be presiding at a satsang at the instance of Shree Nourang Persaud at 13:00 hrs. The venue is at Shri Nourang's residence at Providence, East Bank, Berbice and elaboration preparations are being made for the thousands of devotees who are expected. Shri Prakash is honoured everywhere in Guyana he goes."

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