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India to Deport Swede who Built Huge Garuda Statue

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:48:02 ( 995 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, August 22, 2003: A self-styled Swedish holy man who built an ashram in India has been arrested and faces deportation. Harold Davidson, 45, built the ashram illegally on a two-acre plot in Mallayapuram, in southern Tamil Nadu state. It has a massive statue of Garuda, the holy eagle that is associated with the Lord Vishnu. Davidson came to India on six-month tourist visa. He extended it by two years but refused to leave when it expired. He appealed a court decision in 1994, and after eight years of wrangling lost the appeal. Police said Davidson then went into hiding. He was arrested on August 21, 2003 in the southern town of Kanchipuram. Villagers remember Davidson's arrival -- a white man sitting on the top of a rock seemingly unmindful of the scorching heat. He told them he had come to their village to serve them. Police said he was not engaged in any illegal activity, but was resented by some villagers. Davidson opposed the use of noisy public address systems and lodged more than 200 complaints with police over noise pollution.

Prime Minister Appeals to the Public to Stop Female Feticide

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:47:02 ( 1085 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 11, 2003: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke candidly about female feticide in the country and appealed to the public at large to stop the practice. Delivering his speech at a function to give away the fifth Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh award, Vajpayee said, "More than 1.5 million cases of female feticide have taken place in the last ten years. This is a blot on our society. Even in some economically advanced states, the number of female population is decreasing as compared to the male population. This is a warning bell." Even though the government has made efforts to stop the practice by forming NGO's to oversee the social aspect of the problem, it has proved ineffective.

Now, A Biotech Avatar For Ganesh

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:46:02 ( 958 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, August 22, 2003: Come Ganesh Chaturthi, and Bangaloreans will be treated to a new interpretation of one of the most popular Hindu Gods next week. This has fired the imagination of Rajeev Bhat, a city biotechnologist and a self-taught artist. He has interpreted Lord Ganesha in his paintings using human genes and chromosome images. He has scientifically presented the protein synthesis of an organism on his canvas, which symbolically takes the form of the outline of Lord Ganesha's trunk. And, according to him, the two are interlinked. "Just as Ganesha is the Omkara or the base for everything, genes are responsible for particular characteristics of a person. While chanting the Omkara during meditation, you achieve single-mindedness. Once you develop control over the mind it reflects in your personality, which becomes evident in behavior and is also related scientifically to your genes. I think this is the first time that such a painting has been created in Bangalore," Bhat, founder of the Riddhi Art Gallery said.

Terrorist Blast in Ayodhya temple, No Casualties

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:45:02 ( 1046 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, August 23, 2003: A bomb exploded inside a temple near the Ram Janmabhoomi site here on Friday night damaging its roof and side walls, police said on Saturday. However, no casualties were reported in the explosion inside the Nishad temple in Katra locality at around midnight, they said, adding the temple was situated not far from the acquired land. Senior civil and police officials, including district magistrate Deepak Kumar and SSP Prabhat Kumar, visited the site and an police report has been made. No arrests have been made so far in this connection, police said.

Fire in Another Swayambhu Temple in Nepal

Posted on 2003/8/23 9:49:02 ( 1354 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, August 18, 2003: Two weeks after a fire gutted Pratappur temple at Swayambhu (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), another fire Sunday broke out at Tara temple, adjoining the southern side of the main stupa of Swayambhunath, a report said Monday. "The fire was instantly put out before it could cause any major damage," The Himalayan Times reported. Some pilgrims said it was due to some reckless pilgrims who might have thrown burning lamps inside. Others suspect that some mischievous gang, intent on destroying the heritage of Kathmandu, might by behind the fire, the report said.

Festivals Leave Delhi Short On Milk

Posted on 2003/8/23 9:48:02 ( 0 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 20, 2003: Over the last three days, the demand for milk has suddenly shot up, resulting in Mother Dairy outlets running dry. The reason: The dual festivals of Rakhi and Janmashtami have increased the intake of sweets of Delhiites over the last week. On Tuesday, many areas of the city could not get milk and people queued up at Mother Dairy outlets only to return disappointed. A spokesman for Mother Dairy said demand had risen by over 20 percent because of the Rakhi and Janmashtami falling close to each other. He said that supply of milk had, in fact, been increased and assured that the situation would normalize over the next few days. The prices of milk powder and ghee have also shot up in wholesale markets due to the high demand for sweets. At Khari Baoli wholesale market -- the biggest in Delhi for the two products -- milk powder was selling at $1.46 per kg a week ago but currently it is priced at over $1.98 per kg. For comparison, one can buy powdered milk wholesale in the US for $1.65 per kilo. The price of ghee in Delhi has also risen from $2.71 per kg to $3.13 per kg.

Indian Church Claims to be Under Attack

Posted on 2003/8/23 9:47:02 ( 1029 reads )


USA, August 21, 2003: The following report appears on the Gospel for Asia web site. "Gospel for Asia church of 51 believers in Jharkhand, India, is under attack as anti-Christian leaders meet to decide its fate! Many in the village have expressed their desire to beat GFA missionary Babuser and the new believers, steal their land and other belongings, and ultimately drive them out of the village. As the village meeting continues, they are pressuring leaders to inflict maximum harm on these believers. Village leaders have already made at least one decision: The Christians must pay a fee to even meet together for church. GFA missionaries from other villages have traveled there to encourage their brothers and sisters in Christ. This persecution follows a mighty move of God. By God's grace, three influential families in the village very recently received Christ! Even as the lives of the Christians in this village are in danger, they ask us to pray they will stand strong in the faith and see the ministry grow. They also request prayer that those opposing the Gospel will be touched by the love of Christ." HPI adds: This account is typical of GFA's reports on India and very difficult to either confirm or refute. If someone in India has direct knowledge of this situation, kindly e-mail hpi@hindu.org.

Fremont Officials Say Festival Of India Can Stay

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:49:02 ( 980 reads )


FREMONT, CALIFORNIA, August 19, 2003: After two days of celebration with none of the major problems that nearly forced its cancellation a year ago, Fremont officials say they expect the city will remain home to the Festival of India for many years to come. Last year, city officials initially denied the festival's permit after persistent litter, scheduling, noise and security problems. But they now agree the event has made positive changes. "It pretty much went off without a hitch," Police chief Craig Steckler said Monday, a day after the city hosted the largest cultural celebration for Indo-Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mayor Gus Morrison said he sees the festival being around year after year. Major problems in past years threatened its future here. The series of problems led City Manager Jan Perkins to deny issuing the festival a permit in the spring of 2002. After negotiations with the city, festival organizers were given an 11th-hour reprieve: a one-day permit, or, really a one-shot chance at staging a problem-free event with the help of a professional planer. With a variety of Indian stores, restaurants and other businesses, Fremont has come to be viewed as the most Indo-American urban city in California.

Jalna Musician Enters Guinness Book

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:48:02 ( 1560 reads )


JALNA, INDIA, August 21, 2003: Twenty-eight-year-old music teacher, Prasad Shriram Choudhary, has entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for continuously playing tabla for 46 hours. A certificate and letter were sent congratulating Prasad for successfully setting a new World Record on April 15-16 of this year. He had already been included in India's Limca Book of World Record. Determined to set the record, Prasad practised rigorously to sit continuously for 50 hours. However, he made it up to 46 hours. Prasad, a disciple of Pandit Satishchandra Chaudhary, an artist with the All India Radio, runs Bhagwan Maharaj Pimpalgaonkar Sangeet Vidyalaya where he teaches music to about 100 students. "I will use my experience and achievement for the growth of music in Jalna as well as in Maharashtra," said Prasad. His performance was monitored by at least 13 supervisors, the gazetted officers of the state government and six doctors.

US Judge to Reconsider Ruling on Church Land-Use Law

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:47:02 ( 879 reads )

Religion News Service

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, August 21, 2003: A Los Angeles federal judge has agreed to reconsider his earlier ruling that declared parts of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson had alarmed some lawyers and religious leaders when he ruled in June that the federal law aimed at helping houses of worship overcome land-use disputes violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. On Aug. 11 he put his decision on hold and, at the request of attorneys for the Elsinore Christian Center in Lake Elsinore, Calif., agreed to reconsider it, the Los Angeles Times reported. The church sued the city of Lake Elsinore in 2001 after it was denied a conditional-use permit to move into a former grocery store building. Wilson said the church might be able to pursue its case under the commerce clause of the Constitution. If it did that, there would be no need for him to decide about the constitutionality of the religious land use act. Robert H. Tyler, legal counsel to the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group representing the church with the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, called Wilson's latest decision "a major victory at this stage of the litigation." The judge has delayed a final ruling for four months to give opposing sides of the legal matter time to conduct discovery and depositions. Wilson, who called the three-year-old law "a blunderbuss of a remedy" thought it unfairly prevented local authorities from making legitimate land-use decisions "simply because the aggrieved landowner is a religious actor." His original decision marked the first time that the law -- the basis for dozens of land-use suits currently in the courts across the nation -- had been struck down by a federal judge. Enacted in 2000, the law was supported by an unusually wide range of religious groups, from evangelical Christians to Jews and Muslims to Hindus. HPI adds: This is an important legal issue for any Hindu temple in America seeking to buy land, or intending to expand, and should be followed closely by the temple's lawyer and trustees.

Talk on Treatment of India in American Schools

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:46:02 ( 936 reads )


SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA, August 23, 2003: Dr. Yvette Rosser will give a talk August 23, 2003, from 6: to 7:30 pm at the Fair Oaks Community Center, 540 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Sunnyvale, California on the subject of the treatment of India as a subject in American schools. Admission is free. Dr. Rosser's study, an analysis of the treatment of India in the American secondary social studies curriculum, includes a study of the negative impact that the standard essential presentation of India, in American classrooms, has on the identity formation of American high school students of Hindu descent. She has designed and led several workshops for high school teachers to help them better understand and teach about India. The talk is sponsored by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh ("source" above).

Dr. Rosser completed B.A. with Honors in the Department of Oriental and African Languages and Literature, an M.A. in the Department of Asian Studies, and a Ph.D. in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction all from University of Texas in Austin. Her Master's Thesis topic was Global Education: India in the U.S. Secondary Social Studies Curriculum, and her Doctoral Dissertation topic was Curricula as Destiny: Forging National Identities in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Currently, she is a Research Associate with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in New Delhi, while residing in Austin, Texas. She has published many papers and articles. Her publications include topics that discuss common stereotypes found in teaching about India and suggests corrective strategies for Hindus to strengthen the positive aspects of their religion, culture, and heritage so that it flourishes in America.

Did Your Temple Society Once Meet in a Christian Church?

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:45:02 ( 1212 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, August 22, 2003: Vishwan@aol.com made this interesting suggestion for an article in Hinduism Today: "The Unitarian Universalist Congregation churches have opened their doors to many small Hindu bhajana or study groups in many cities in the U.S. In our town, they have even permitted us to put up a permanent altar within the confines of their church building, possibly a unique first for any Christian church. In some cities like Nashville, the huge Ganesha temple ( I am told ) had it's beginnings in the minds of a group that also met at a Unitarian church. Even going back to the times of Swami Vivekananda's visit to the U.S., I noticed that some of the talks were referenced as being made at a Unitarian church. Perhaps, an in-depth article exploring the beliefs of this church and their tolerance of other religious paths with examples from the Hindu community, might be interesting as well as being an acknowledgement of their breadth of vision and the helpful role they are playing." Hindus in Western countries are invited to write HPI at "source" above with any stories of how their organizations were offered facilities by local Unitarian or other churches.

Ram Katha a Hit in Brazil's Rain Forest

Posted on 2003/8/21 9:49:02 ( 991 reads )


BRAZIL, August 15, 2003: India and Brazil may have more in common than the story of the historical error made by Portuguese explorer Pedros Alvares Cabral, who sailed from Lisbon in 1500 for India but landed in Brazil. Now the two countries, on board the IBSA tri-lateral initiative, may discover a "Shri Ram" connection in their ties. The Amazon rain forest in Brazil was the venue recently of a Ram Katha by Sant Murari Bapu that drew followers from all over the globe including Brazilians who danced to the tune of Jai Shri Ram, rather than Samba. The Ram Katha is a combination of dramatic story telling and group singing recalling the story of Lord Rama, and usually spread over several days. The famous Amazon resort, Aryau Towers, which has a hotel with tree-top rooms, even turned vegetarian for 10 days and welcomed the Ram bhaktas with Sri Ram T-shirts, with the hotel staff turned out in saffron. It is no surprise then that the Ministry of External Affairs has promptly planned a Festival of India in Brazil.

Stressed Kids Eat Unhealthy Diets

Posted on 2003/8/21 9:48:02 ( 962 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, August 14, 2003: School children consume more fatty foods as their lives grow stressful, which could lead to increased risk of heart disease, cancer or Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, where either the body does not produce insulin or the cells ignore the insulin, and is the result of poor diet. Stressed-out 11-year-olds consume fewer nutritious meals and snacks, according to British researchers. A study of 4,320 schoolchildren found that they tended to slip into generally unhealthy dietary practices as they grew more stressful. They munched often on bad stuff, says a report in the Health Psychology. "Children in the most stressed category ate more fatty foods and were less likely to consume the recommended fruits and vegetables or eat a daily breakfast," says Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK's Health Behaviour Unit. Teenage obesity increases the chances of being overweight as an adult, which can lead to increased risk of heart disease, cancer or Type 2 diabetes, say the researches. They also inquired about their consumption of fatty food items, and how many servings of fruit and vegetables they ate each day, how often they snacked, and how frequently they ate breakfast. A healthy breakfast has been shown to have a positive effect on long-term health. Wardle, found that the most stressed ate nearly twice the amount of fatty food as the least stressed group. Overweight students consistently underestimated their actual intake of fatty foods. Asian students ate the best diets, black students the worst, with white children in the middle. Higher socioeconomic status was reflected in healthier eating practices. Wardle concludes that stress appears to be consistently harmful to children in terms of steering their food choices away from the healthy.

UK Research Calls Astrology a Sham

Posted on 2003/8/21 9:47:02 ( 1074 reads )


LONDON, UK, August 17, 2003: Research begun in London in 1958 has just been published in the current edition of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. It is the most thorough scientific study ever made into the subject of astrology, asserts this article. The research faults astrology's central claim -- that human characteristics are moulded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of a person's birth.

Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading -- all of which astrologers believe can be gauged from birth charts.

The findings caused alarm and anger in astrological circles. Roy Gillett, the president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, told The Telegraph the study's findings should be treated "with extreme caution" and accused the researchers of seeking to "discredit astrology." In the course of the study, researchers tracked more than 2,000 people over several decades -- most of them born within minutes of each other. The babies were originally recruited as part of a medical study into how the circumstances of birth can affect future health. The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between the "time twins." Analysis of the research was carried out by Geoffrey Dean, a scientist and former astrologer based in Perth, Australia, and Ivan Kelly, a psychologist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

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