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Specially Trained Priests Give More Meaning to Hindu Rituals

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:44:02 ( 808 reads )


KAUAI, U.S.A., April 7, 2003: The March 26 HPI carried a story about specially trained priests who are helping to give additional meaning to Hindu rituals. Several readers have requested who they can contact about this program and how to get the books mentioned in the article. Readers may kindly contact Mr. Girish Bhapat at Jnana Prabodhini, 510 Sadashiv Peth, 411030 Pune, India.

Ganges Pollution Increasing

Posted on 2003/4/6 9:49:02 ( 890 reads )

Source: Nationwide News Pty Limited

VARANASI, INDIA, March 29, 2003: Hindus yearn to visit the holy Ganges River, to bathe in its sacred waters known to cleanse or wash away all sins, and many Hindus hope to die in Varanasi in order to escape from the cycle of rebirth. Approximately 80,000 people bathe daily on the ancient ghats of Varanasi. The source of the Ganges is in an ice cave high in the Himalayas, and it makes its way through the most densely populated area of the world until it merges into the Bay of Bengal. It is precisely along this journey that the river has accumulated raw sewage, human ash, animal carcasses and industrial waste. In 1985, the Ganges Action Plan was launched to start the cleanup by installing sewage plants in major cities along the river. However, the plan failed as it used too much of India's valuable energy resources and the plants in many cities are now idle. Since 1985, a recent study indicates that the amount of sewage flowing into the Ganges has doubled. Amrit Dhillan, reporter for Nationwide News, says, "The sacred Ganges has become so filthy that even Hindu holy men refuse to bathe in it." From fasting, to attract government attention, to lodging a public petition in the courts, these holy men are protesting the condition of the river. "Tests last year of Varanasi water samples showed that the fecal coliform count (a measure of human and animal waste in water) was 50 times the level considered acceptable for human beings," said M.C. Mehta, a Varanasi lawyer and environmentalist. He added, "No scheme will work unless it involves public participation. You have to educate the people to treat the river differently." Presently, locals wash laundry in the river and dump rubbish, bodies, plastic bags and rotting garlands. Mishra Mehta's group called the Friends of Ganges have been trying to force the Indian government to approve a new project called Clean Ganges. Mishra herself says, "I want to do my holy dip and yet I know the river is filthy. So I compromise by not going all the way in."

Pilgrimaging by Helicopter to the Famous Amarnath Shrine

Posted on 2003/4/6 9:48:02 ( 799 reads )


KASHMIR, INDIA, March 23, 2003: Pilgrims planning to visit the famous Amarnath Shrine in South Kashmir this year will now have another option for travel. A helicopter service, sponsored by the Jammu and Kashmir government, and approved by the Amarnath Shrine Board, was adopted in order to attract more pilgrims but also to attract tourists. This year the month-long pilgrimage will start on July 12th and end on August 12th. Governor G.C. Saxena, head of the Amarnath board says, "The pilgrimage has the potential to contribute US$1,489,361 to $1,702,127 to the state's economy annually. Forty percent of the Amarnath pilgrim traffic gets dispersed to various tourist places in the valley, and this trend needs to be promoted further." HPI adds: One wonders the impact of this plan upon the holy pilgrimage now accomplished only after arduous trekking up to the cave. Especially the proposal to bring "tourists" seems questionable, as this is one of the great sacred places of Hinduism and not a mere tourist attraction.

Construction of a New Nine Planet Temple

Posted on 2003/4/6 9:47:02 ( 873 reads )


KONARK, ORISSA, March 23, 2003: Orissa International Center, a non-government organization, plans to submit a proposal to the Chief Minister of Orissa on April 1, that 100 acres of land between Konark and Chandrabaga be set aside for the building of a new Navagraha Temple. The temple would house the nine planets honored by the Indian school of astrology -- Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. Presently the nine planets occupy a humble abode that is in a state of disrepair. The new temple will be located outside the Sun Temple at Konark. Paresh Nayak, chief functionary of the OIC says, "12,000 sculptors from different parts of the state would be engaged in building the temple. However, the details and amount of money to be spent has not been worked out." It is expected that money for the project will be collected from the people as well as NRI's of the state.

Ancient Mysore Temple Revealed as Reservoir Waters Recede

Posted on 2003/4/5 8:49:02 ( 1014 reads )


MYSORE, INDIA, March 16, 2003: More than eighty years ago the Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir was constructed across the river Cauvery to ensure that farmers in the area had a water supply to grow crops. Water levels have plummeted for the 4th year in a row and the 1,100-year-old Gopalakrishna temple that was submerged when the dam was built has become visible. Tourists and devotees have flocked to the location to view and pray at the temple site. Modeled according to both Dravidian and Chalukyan styles of architecture, the temple measures 100 X 60 yards and features 46 constituent shrines. Among the Deities featured are 24 idols of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu as well as murthis of Brahma, Saraswati, Harihara, Hayagriva and Jalasayana. As water levels recede further, other temples submerged by the reservoir, such as the Kalama and Sri Kenneshawara Temple, also may be exposed.

Balinese Hindus Thrive in Langkat Area

Posted on 2003/4/5 8:48:02 ( 965 reads )

Source: Jakarta Post

LANGKAT, INDONESIA, March 21, 2003: Stepping back in time to a civilization hundreds of years old, descendants of Balinese Hindus who left Bali after Mount Agung erupted in 1961 have settled in a hamlet called Hamlet Bingei Village. Approximately 30 families have built homes featuring traditional Hindu architectural style and maintained their forefathers' culture. Wayan Mangku Digejen, Hindu priest for the village, is 75 years old and is proud that the hamlet has two temples, Alet Widie Nate and Panitaan Agung. A religious rite called Purnama Tilem is performed every 15 days and villagers observe the Hindu holy days of Balongan, Kuningan and Nyepl. Ketut Sate, head of the hamlet says, "Religious rites in this hamlet show great dynamism." He also added that the village has appealed to the Langkat administration for permission to conduct cremation rites.

Indian Mango Market Becomes a War Casualty

Posted on 2003/4/5 8:47:02 ( 853 reads )

Source: Sify.com

NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 3, 2003: The Iraq war has greatly reduced India's mango exports to the Gulf, but has created a bonanza for the domestic market where top brands of the "king of fruits" are now easy picking. India accounts for almost 65 percent of the world's mango production, but it exports less than one percent of its yield. "Now we are doomed as two-thirds of our mangoes are exported to the Gulf, where our Alphonso reigned as the king of fruits for decades," said Nasiruddin Jesani, secretary of Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Association (FVFA). The Alphonso is the most expensive variety of mango in India with a dozen priced at around US$18, compared to other popular varieties which sell for just over US$2 for 12. The war in Iraq came just at the beginning of the mango season said FVFA president Babu Ramchandani, "And so between 40 to 50 percent of our mango trade is now affected both in terms of value as well as in volume and we cannot say whether we will regain our market after this war ends there," he said. India's mango exports are mostly confined to the Gulf, although some of the produce reaches Britain and Russia. Now many people are returning from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states where mango is a popular dessert among the regions four-million-strong Indian community said an official. High Airline freight charges also have contributed to the dilemma.

Extended Family Celebrates a Century of Annapurna Puja

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:49:02 ( 926 reads )


VADODARA, INDIA, April 4, 2003: When members of the Basu family gather on April 10 at their house in Makarpura, they will not be attending just a family puja (home worship service). They all will be witness to an historic occasion -- the completion of 100 years of a family puja that began in far away Bengal and has continued more than five decades in Vadodara. The Basu family has relatives pouring in from all over the country. Elated children are helping to install the Deity, women are busy with puja preparations and men are giving instructions to workers setting up shrines for the annual "Annapurna Puja." On April 10, as the family priest begins the prayers, they will mark a century of devotion to the Goddess who came in a dream to Harimati Basu in 1903. "Annapurna, or the Goddess of food, appeared to her in a dream and asked her to feed the hungry. This tradition has never stopped after that," says Pubali Basu. "It has always been a family affair. Right from the beginning, every member of our family has contributed in some way or the other towards the puja. Invitations are sent out to all family members well in advance. They contribute financially and also come here and help in organizing the puja," says Monika Sen, who has come to Vadodara from New Delhi for the occasion. "A 100 years is a big time span, and we have witnessed both good and bad times. Last year, the puja was held while Gujarat was in the throes of riots. We had to virtually smuggle in our family priest from Ahmedabad," adds Pubali Basu.

Balinese Hindus Celebrate "Nyepi" with Living People

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:48:02 ( 1004 reads )

Source: The Age (Melbourne)

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, April 2, 2003: His trial has yet to begin, but a giant effigy of alleged Bali bomber, Amrozi, was facing ritual execution by fire last night on the eve of the Hindu festival of Nyepi. Normally the giant bamboo and papier-mache monster dolls burnt across the Hindu island of Bali represent figures from Balinese and Hindu stories. But the events in Bali on October 12 have provided an addition to the villains in this year's celebrations, according to I Wayan Suarjaya, the director-general of Hindu and Buddhist affairs in Indonesia's Department of Religion. This year appeared to be the first time some of the terrifying dolls, called Ogoh-ogoh, were modeled on living people, including Amrozi. Mr. Wayan Suarjaya said he believed the inclusion of Amrozi was "probably because the bomb that rocked Bali has deeply scarred the Balinese." Although Indonesia is overwhelmingly Muslim, with just 2 per cent of people Hindu, the whole country enjoys Nyepi, as everyone gets a public holiday. But only in Bali will the start of this Hindu new year, called Saka 1925, be celebrated according to the set of austere traditions. On the streets, traditional Balinese security men will ensure nothing disturbs the serenity of Nyepi, when everyone observes a day of silence. Hindus throughout the country are expected to spend the day reviewing their lives and the course of their religion in preparation for a fresh start to the year.

Hindu Radio Station To Go On Air

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:47:02 ( 927 reads )

Source: Leicester Mercury

LEICESTER, ENGLAND, March 28, 2003: Utsav radio has been granted a license and will be on the air for four weeks from March 31. It will be broadcast on 97.5FM, 18 hours a day from 6 a.m. until 12 a.m. The station, supported by Leicester Hindu temples organization, will celebrate Ram Navami, Shree Swaminarayan Jayanti, Shree Mahavir Jayanti and Shree Hanuman Jayanti. Broadcasts will be from Sabras radio house on Melton Road. Any students interested in participating should contact Shree Sanatana Mandir at 0116 2661402 or Sabras radio house at 0116 2610666.

Young Indian American Hindu Joins Marines

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:46:02 ( 873 reads )


CAMP LEJEUNE, U.S.A., April 4, 2003: Nishkam Gupta, 21, is not like others of his age, his parents will tell you. He is currently at Camp Lejeune, serving in the Marines, and in a few days he will leave to serve in Iraq. Nishkam attended a Marine boot "summer" camp while in high school and later made a 6-year commitment with the US military as a Marine reservist. While at Camp Lejeune, Nishkam's mother said her son refused to go with other soldiers to the Christian Sunday services. "He demanded to be given his own place so he could follow his own religion," she said. At his request, his mother sent him pictures of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. "So every Sunday, when other Marines would go to the church, he and 2 or 3 other Indians would pray at this special location given to them. He made sure that Indians kept their identity even in the US military," she said. At the time his reserve unit was called up he was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where he founded the local chapter of Hindu Students Council. When packing his bags for going to Iraq he took only four books with him -- the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, The Hindu Mind by Bansi Pandit and The Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. His parents, who had expressed reluctance at their son's decision, have now adjusted. "Nobody likes their son to go to war," said his father, "but we have no choice but to support him because this is what he really wants."

Haute Khadi Takes the Fashion World

Posted on 2003/4/3 8:49:02 ( 868 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 31, 2003: Khadi is haute and happening. At the Singapore Fashion Week Giorgio Armani himself sang paeans to the stuff of which Indian nationalism is made. "The khadi made in India is among the most skin-friendly fabrics we know. In fact the day isn't far when khadi-based designs will rule the world," he says. No mean praise coming from the man who has defined style for well over four decades. First used by Mahatma Gandhi to make a strong statement of patriotism and self-reliance, hand-spun, hand-woven khadi is today the toast of fashion houses in France and Italy. "It was a Herculean task repackaging khadi for Indian and European tastes while preserving its essential appeal. Designers abroad were completely unaware that a quintessentially Indian material could be used for making Western clothes. Today after two years of rigorous effort, khadi has finally been accepted in the international markets. We now cater to front-line couturiers like Donna Karen, Gucci and Giorgio Armani," says J. Nagarajan, advisor to the Sarvoday Ashram, New Delhi. The ashram caters to over eighty percent of Europe's requirement of khadi. From being a dull, coarse material khadi today bears a multicolored look thanks to vegetable and chemical dyes and can be spun as fine as muslin by weavers in Andhra Pradesh and west Bengal. The West is slowly but surely waking up to the charms of this wonder fabric.

Healing Power Of Gardening

Posted on 2003/4/3 8:48:02 ( 908 reads )


NEW MARKET, VIRGINIA, April 2, 2003: National Garden Month, observed in April, has taken "Celebrate the power of gardening" as this year's theme. Aside from providing sustenance and beauty, gardens are restorative -- they can transform lives, says Valerie Kelsey, president of the National Gardening Association. "You see it the most with inner-city kids. They can experience it by growing a single strawberry. It's forceful," says Kelsey. "You see it in prison gardening. It's probably the first time in the inmates' lives they've learned how to nurture something. It teaches responsibility." Landscape designer Nicole Kistler formed most of her impressions about horticultural healing several years ago while a graduate student at the University of Washington. She wrote her master's degree thesis around the design methods used for creating some rooftop gardens at the Cancer Lifeline Center in Seattle. "Patients were able to soothe their tensions. In the end, many were able to tell their stories. There was this huge metaphor for healing. They didn't know what they were doing in many cases (with the gardening), but they overcame it." Sanctuary gardens are being designed around hospices, churches, schools and jails, among other places. The catharsis provided by these often vest-pocket sanctuaries impact the healers as well as the afflicted, adds Author Eva Shaw.

Coconut's Healing Powers

Posted on 2003/4/3 8:47:02 ( 1129 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, April 3, 2003: Yesterday's story on coconut's healing powers had the link incorrect. HPI apologizes for any inconvenience. For correct link, use "source" above.

Stone Pillar With Carved Lotus Flower Unearthed At Ayodhya

Posted on 2003/4/2 8:49:02 ( 812 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, April 1, 2003: Archaeologists have uncovered a broken pillar with a carving of a lotus flower at the site of the destroyed 16th century Babri Masjid, a government official said Tuesday. "The finding of a pillar and multilayered flooring suggests there exists a permanent structure beneath the soil," said R.M. Srivastava, the senior government administrator in Ayodhya, where the site is located. "At this point we can only say that remains of a permanent structure lay buried in the soil. It could be anything -- a temple, the masjid or even a kitchen structure." The Babri Masjid at the site was demolished by Hindu radicals in 1992. Hindus claim the site in Ayodhya, 345 miles east of New Delhi, was the birthplace of Rama and that a Hindu temple was on the site before the masjid. The significance of the discovery is still unclear, but officials hope it will eventually help settle the debate about what was originally built on the site. The excavation has been ordered by the court charged with settling the issue.

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