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Dalai Lama's Illness, Security Concerns Cancel Buddhist Festival
Posted on 2002/1/23 22:47:02 ( 665 reads )


Source: Press Trust of India





JAYA, INDIA, January 24, 2002: The ten-day Kalchakra festival, organized in the face of threat by ultra organizations to blow up the Buddhist monastery, was on Thursday postponed midway with the Dalai Lama announcing that he was unable to deliver a long spiritual speech on account of illness. The festival opened on January 21. The Dalai Lama, who was to deliver his speech on Thursday, left the venue just after 15 minutes with the announcement that he won't be able to do so as his health did not permit a long oration. Subsequent police reports indicated security was also the major concern. The Kalchakra is the largest congregation of Buddhists from around the world. This year's Kalchakra was significant as it was being held after 15 years at Bodh Gaya -- the place Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.




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Jewish Group Downplays Number of Buddhists, Hindus
Posted on 2002/1/23 22:46:02 ( 565 reads )


Source: RELIGION NEWS SERVICE





USA, January 23, 2002: A new report sponsored by the American Jewish Committee downplays the growth of minority faiths in the United States, saying they have generated more interest and pop culture buzz than actual adherents. The report follows a controversial study by the same author, Tom Smith, last October that downplayed the number of Muslims in America. Smith estimated a total of 1.9 million Muslims, far less than the 6 million figure frequently cited by Muslim groups. In the new report, Smith pulls together various surveys to estimate that there are 1.4 million Buddhists and between 800,000 and 1.1 million Hindus in the United States. He said some figures have created "an impression of prominence beyond the actual size of these groups." These numbers have important political ramifications, which is why the Muslims in America complained about Smith's figure of 1.9 million. Because the US census cannot ask about religion, there is no way to reliably count the number of adherents to any particular religion in the US. Telephone polls tend to undercount minorities, some of whom refuse to answer what they believe to be a government interrogation.




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Hindus Throng Temple In Johor Baru, Malaysia
Posted on 2002/1/22 22:49:02 ( 630 reads )


Source: New Straits Times





JOHOR BARU, MALAYSIA, January 20, 2002: More than 25,000 Hindus, including many from Singapore, converged at the 50-year-old Sri Muniswarar temple in Tampoi, to witness the third Asthabhanthana Maha Kumbabishegam (consecration ceremony) here this morning. Kuala Lumpur-based priest, R. Krishnamurthy Gurukkal, was invited to perform the Mahayagam (fire sacrifice) as part of the worship of the temple's three deities -- Sri Muniswarar, Sri Murugan and Lord Ganesha. In a three-hour ceremony, Krishnamurthy, assisted by 27 priests, chanted a series of mantras to cleanse the temple of negative vibrations and bestow spiritual radiance. Temple building committee chairman S. Munusamy said a unique feature of the newly-renovated temple was the crafting of over 200 statues at the temple by 11 foreign experts led by T. Muthu, from Madurai, South India.




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Temple Desecrated Near Virajpet
Posted on 2002/1/22 22:48:02 ( 571 reads )


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MADIKERI, INDIA, January 21, 2001: Miscreants desecrated a small shrine dedicated to Bhadrakali in Betoli village near Virajpet in Dakshina Kodagu. The main door of the sanctum sanctorum was broken, and the temple kitchen was set on fire. A major portion of the kitchen has been reduced to ashes. The incident came to light when the temple priest opened the door the following morning. Immediately the news was communicated to the village elders, who in turn informed the police. A dog squad led the police to the residence of an auto driver. The police expect to solve the case with this initial breakthrough. Slogans against one particular community have been written over the pillars.




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Judge Says Judo Bow Does Not Violate Religious Freedom
Posted on 2002/1/22 22:47:02 ( 707 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON, January 23, 2002: Bowing to a picture of the founder of judo before a match is not a violation of a individual's religious freedom, a federal judge ruled on Jan. 10. This interesting case could have implications for other situations, such as may occur in the teaching of yoga. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik rejected the argument of three judo contestants who said the customary bow violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it discriminates on the basis of religion, according to the Associated Press. James Akiyama, 17, and his sister, Leilani Akiyama, 14, contested the practice along with Jay Drangeid. Drangeid said in the suit that his refusal to bow is based on his personal Christian, religious belief that bowing to a "thing" or a "place" is prohibited by the Bible. Jim Bregman, president of the U.S. Judo Association, said he was "very pleased" with the decision. "It's clear the bow in judo is simply a respectful act, like a handshake in wrestling." John Holm, who operates the U.S. Judo Training Center in Renton, Washington, said other families are affected by the ruling. "We have a half-dozen Muslim kids who want to compete in the state championships coming up January 26, and they can't compete because of their religious beliefs," he told the Associated Press. In the suit one of the Muslim participants said he believes that the Koran prohibits bowing to anything or to anyone other than Allah.




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Tamil Nadu Says 'No" To Hindi In Schools
Posted on 2002/1/22 22:46:02 ( 347 reads )


Source: Times of India





CHENNAI, INDIA, January 21, 2002: The Tamil Nadu government's educational policy would only allow a two-language formula in school education and the recommendation for a three-language formula in the curriculum made by National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) will not be accepted by the State, education Minister M Thambidurai said today. The State government had no objection if anyone wanted to learn Hindi on their own. "The problem is that as far as Hindi is concerned it does not serve any purpose for Tamilians except for getting into the Central Services," he said. Starting Hindi medium schools and reserving job opportunities only to the Hindi-knowing community would result in the death of regional languages, Thambidurai said and added that Tamil Nadu would not allow such things to happen at any cost. Tamils are especially concerned that children be able to read the extensive Tamil religious literature. Regarding the need for English medium schools, he said that English was a window to the world community to understand modern science and technological changes.




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Genetically Modified Food Firms Head For Asian Markets
Posted on 2002/1/22 22:45:02 ( 591 reads )


Source: Source: The Hindu





BANGALORE, INDIA, JANUARY 18, 2002: Opposition to genetically modified (GM) food is strong in Europe and the U.S., which accounts for 70 per cent of all GM crops grown, due to concerns on effects on health and environment. This leaves the agri-biotech companies focusing on Asia to expand their markets, says Sue Mayer, Director of GeneWatch, an NGO in the U.K. Dr. Mayer, who was part of the British delegation which participated in the recent India-U.K. Science Festival, says the developments in Europe and the U.S. have a bearing on the future of GM crops in Asia. While no new GM foods were given approval for cultivation, import, or consumption in the year 2000 in Europe, India will soon see large-scale commercialization of Bt cotton (Monsanto's transgenic cotton variety, said to have pest resistance). India is "strategically important" to Monsanto for cotton, says Dr. Mayer. "India, Indonesia, China and Thailand are among the Asian countries that are very important to GM food companies." While GM crops are selling in the U.S., there is evidence that resistance is growing, especially in the absence of a strong monitoring system. This was demonstrated when StarLink, a GM maize variety approved only for animal feed, was found in taco shells meant for human consumption, leading to massive recalls of the contaminated food.




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Public School Course on Islam Raises Concern in California
Posted on 2002/1/19 22:49:02 ( 566 reads )


Source: Religion Today





BYRON, CALIFORNIA, January 17, 2002: Seventh graders in a growing number of public schools are being required to attend an intensive three-week course on Islam. Students in Byron, California were sent home with handouts informing their parents of the course contents. The students in the Ancient Culture and History class are required to memorize Islamic terms and Proverbs along with the Five Pillars of Faith, and study the key Islamic prophets. They may wear Muslim clothing and adopt a Muslim name as a class exercise. The textbook used for the Islamic course, "Across the Centuries," is a Social Studies/History book and has been adopted by the California School System. Although the article, written by Reverend Austin Miles, is critical of the program, local news coverage showed positive reactions from students and their parents.




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After Bollywood, It's Ayurveda In the Oxford English Dictionary
Posted on 2002/1/19 22:48:02 ( 754 reads )

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No Camphor Burning in Batu Caves, Malaysia
Posted on 2002/1/19 22:47:02 ( 671 reads )


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PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA, January 20, 2001: Several Indian religious organizations and groups have welcomed the proposal to bar devotees from burning camphor during the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves on January 28. Malaysia Hindu Sangam president A. Vaithilingam said the burning of camphor was not a mandatory requirement and some temples in India had in fact stopped the practice. He said the decision in India was taken after temple priests were found to have respiratory problems after inhaling too much of the smoke from the camphor. Vaithilingam said priests could use oil lamps filled with ghee as offerings to the gods instead of camphor as is the practice now. Malaysian Hindu Youth Council president R.P. Velayutham said they supported the decision as the burning of the camphor might damage the limestone walls of the temple, but there should be some leeway for the devotees who had already made vows to burn camphor during the celebrations. The small Murugan temple, the most popular in Malaysia, is located in a large natural cave reached by climbing a steep flight of stairs. The enormous crowds, approaching a million, have to be regulated to avoid congestion in the cave.




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RSS Training Popular With Hindu Girls Born Outside India
Posted on 2002/1/19 22:46:02 ( 927 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, JANUARY 8: They prefer to call this country Bharat, not India. Words like shakha, hindutva, dharma and samiti pramukh sanchalika roll off their tongues, thick with accents ranging from Birmingham to Durban. They are the latest batch of graduates -- girls aged 15-25 -- of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti camp held at Reshimbagh, the RSS headquarters in Nagpur. They learned about dharma, and say their greatest concern was conversion to Christianity or Islam. The camp, held between December 22 and January 5, was the second of its kind for NRI Hindu girls (the first was in 1997) and included participants from 11 countries: South Africa, England, Trinidad, Guyana, Fiji, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Sri Lanka, USA and Kenya. Some had stopped over in Mumbai on their way home; they appeared totally sure of what they were doing and why they were here. "We wanted to learn about our Hindu dharma, our way of life.'' What is the dharma? "To learn about Hinduism, the problems Hindus face and to unite all Hindu women of the world.'' These are voices of the third- and fourth-generation Indians settled abroad, with now distant relatives in the Indian subcontinent.




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India Bans Smoking on Trains and in Stations
Posted on 2002/1/19 22:45:02 ( 640 reads )


Source: Indian Express





DELHI, INDIA, January 19, 2002: Indian Railways, the largest railroad system in the world, has decided to ban smoking in trains, railway stations and all railway offices. Anybody violating the ban could be fined US$2.00. The decision comes in the wake of Supreme Court direction banning smoking in public places.




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Adivasis Vow to Save Hindu Religion
Posted on 2002/1/18 22:49:02 ( 648 reads )


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JHABUA, INDIA, January 18, 2002: In what was clearly a rare spectacle in a tribal-dominated district, nearly 200,000 adivasis, hands lifted in air, intoned an oath on Thursday to save the honor of the Hindu religion and, if necessary, fight for its cause with at an impressive "Hindu Sangam" organized by the RSS under the aegis of its frontal organization, Sewa Bharati. The resolution passed, in the presence of RSS sarsangachalak (president) K S Sudarshan, also made it amply clear that anyone trying to induce a Hindu to change his faith by dangling the carrot of economic betterment, or threats, was "criminal" under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1960 which the district administration was expected to implement in letter and spirit. The superbly organized public rally belied all expectations of the district administration which had not been expecting a crowd of more than 60,000. And if the Sangh's opponents were hoping to take it to task for spreading the communal virus, they had to be disappointed. For even the speeches were markedly temperate, with even the fiery Sadhvi Rithambara confining her discourse to the need of reigniting Hindu pride to counter the threat of war with Pakistan. Looking at the faces in the crowd it was obvious that the RSS attempt to awaken their dormant religious sentiments had paid off, and spectacularly well. Since the meeting had been conceived with the specific objective of restoring adivasi faith in simple, honest, muscular Hindutva, the good Lord Hanuman being its most potent symbol, most speakers confined their speeches to the evil of conversion, and the innate openness and all-embracing aspect of Hinduism. Sudarshan said the massive turnout was the fruit of three-years' labor during which 342 single-teacher schools had been set up by the Sewa Bharati. Quite apart from organizing Ganesh "visarjan" festival at 22 places, 3,500 RSS volunteers worked round-the-clock in the 2,455 villages of Jhabua. Worshipful icons of Lord Hanuman were installed in 300,000 homes, and a locket with a picture of the Hanuman given to 2.8 million tribals. Sudarshan said everybody was free to practice his religion, be they Christian or Muslim, but trouble arose when some people said their god was superior to others, and that worshipping him/her alone would lead to eternal bliss.




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Man Arrested With Gun at Sai Baba's Ashram
Posted on 2002/1/18 22:48:02 ( 603 reads )


Source: The Hindustan Times





BANGALORE, INDIA, January 18, 2002: A 26-year-old man who allegedly tried to shoot Sai Baba on Thursday with an air pistol at his ashram in Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore, was overpowered by ashram volunteers. The air pistol and some pellets were recovered from the man, Somasundaram, the police said. Somasundaram was overpowered when he started running towards Sai Baba who was emerging from a building to give darshan, eyewitnesses said.




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South African Tamil Songstress Releases New CD
Posted on 2002/1/18 22:47:02 ( 703 reads )


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SOUTH AFRICA, January 19, 2002: Tamil Songstress Mahenthri Pillay, one of South Africa's prominent Hindu classical musicians, has just released her fourth CD, Isai Gaanam, "Fragrance of Music." It is a compilation of popular Tamil devotional songs made famous by the renowned Thyagaraj Bhagvathar. See her biography and interview at the Sunday Times link above. Her previously released CDs include: Paamalai -- A collection of devotional songs sung in praise of various deities; Sacred Music -- Compositions of the great Saivite saints; and Dharshan -- Songs in praise of Lord Vishnu in his form as Lord Rama, which includes the sacred Hanuman Chalisa. For further information contact the artist at devgov@iafrica.com or telephone 031-3096647.




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