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Hindu Press International
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Record Diwali Turnout in Durban
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:46:02 ( 643 reads )


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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, November 27, 2001: A record crowd of 120,000 turned up for the Diwali festivities on the Durban beachfront at the weekend. Festivities started on Saturday with a religious program, followed by a variety concert and Indian bazaar ending with a spectacular fireworks display. "I have not seen such a crowd before. It surpassed all events that have been held on the beachfront. My congratulations and compliments to the people of Durban. Chairman of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said about 30,000 people took part in a series of fun events on Sunday. A kite-flying competition was popular, with scores of enthusiasts taking part with an array of multi-colored and intricately shaped kites taking to the sky.




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Chennai Starts Arresting Smokers
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:45:02 ( 662 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, November 9, 2001: When statistics revealed that around 800,000 people die annually in India from smoking tobacco, the Supreme Court of India decided to take action. As of November 2, smoking in public places such as hospitals, courts, educational institutions, libraries, and on public transportation, has been banned. Citizens realized that the government was serious about the new law when Chennai police arrested over 1,000 smokers on November 9, 2001, and charged them fines ranging from US$1.00 to $10.00. HPI adds: Studies in Europe and North America have determined an effective method of reducing smoking is to substantially increase the taxes on cigarettes.




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Pujaris Protest Change in Retirement Age
Posted on 2001/11/27 22:49:02 ( 750 reads )


Source: The Hindu





HYDERABAD, INDIA, November 27, 2001: The Andhra Pradesh State Endowments Minister, Mr D. Sivarama Raju, has said that there is "no point in temple priests still continuing their agitation with the closure of temples on Karthika Purnima day" on November 30 after regular worship, when their demands have already been met by the Government. Referring to the retirement age, a major demand, Mr Raju said here on Tuesday that an order had just been issued clarifying the Government stand on this issue. The order fixed December 8, 2000, as the cutoff date for implementing the retirement age at 58 years. Those priests who were appointed before this date, would enjoy the retirement at 65 years and those appointed after this date, 58 years. The Minister hoped that more and more people from all classes and castes would come forward to take up priest jobs as the Government had announced attractive salaries. If there was good response, the Government would establish training schools next to more temples, including Tirumala, Dwaraka and Keesara temples.




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Hindus, Chinese, Dwindling Minorities in Malaysia
Posted on 2001/11/27 22:48:02 ( 580 reads )


Source: The Straits Times





KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, November 8, 2001: The number of Malays and other indigenous groups has gone up by 4.5% in the past ten years, a gain of 4 million people, according to the most recent census reports released November 6 by the government. The percentage of Hindus dropped from 7.9% to 7.7%, and the percentage of Chinese from 28.1% to 26%. In absolute numbers, Indians, who are 82% Hindus, increased from 1.45 million in 1991 to 1.79 million in 2000. In the same time period, the Bumiputera, or native Malays, increased from 11.13 million to 15.1 million. The government is actively working for population increase through the subsidy of large families of Bumiputera, and once set a goal of 70 million people by 2020. In 1957, The Chinese comprised 37% of the total population, and the Indians 10.3%. In 1991, Muslims were 58.6% of the population and in 2000, 60.4%. In 2000, Hindus were 6.3%, Christians 9.1% and Buddhists 19.2% of the total population.




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Turmeric May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Posted on 2001/11/27 22:47:02 ( 595 reads )


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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, November 21, 2001: Research conducted at the University of California in Los Angeles has led a team of scientists to conclude that curcumin, the main chemical compound constituting tumeric, may be responsible for "slowing down the progression of the neurodegenerative disease" called Alzheimer's. Apparently curcumin prevents the formation of knots in the brain called amyloid plaques that are prevalent in an Alzheimer's patient. Most East Indian householders consume curries containing turmeric on a daily basis. Quoting the article, "Studies have found that Alzheimer's affects just 1% of people over the age of 65 living in some Indian villages" and "This finding explains why rates of Alzheimer's are much lower among the elderly in India than in their Western peers."




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Religious Hatred Bill Moves Ahead in England's Parliament
Posted on 2001/11/26 22:49:02 ( 563 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, November 26, 2001: An attempt to block legislation for a new offense of incitement to religious hatred has been defeated despite the rebellion of several Labour MPs. The bill extends the racially aggravated offenses of assault, public order, criminal damage and harassment to cover attacks aggravated by religious hostility. They extend the provisions concerning incitement to racial hatred to cover religious hatred. They include cases where the hatred is directed against groups abroad, and increase the maximum penalty for such offenses from 2 to 7 years imprisonment. To be prosecuted for stirring up religious hatred, a perpetrator must use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior intended or likely to stir up hatred against a group of people because of their religious belief (or lack of religious belief), including through spoken, published or broadcast material. Possessing such material will be a crime. This article states that the shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin warned the anti-hatred plans could prove counter-productive because they could prevent legitimate debate about religion. One kind of enterprise that could find itself curtailed under the new act is Christian proselytization, under which other faiths are often criticized in harsh terms. For this reason, similar laws have always been defeated in Western countries, and this one may not survive the House of Lords.




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Canada Military Chaplains Unhappy With a "Generic God"
Posted on 2001/11/26 22:48:02 ( 716 reads )


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CANADA, NOVEMBER 20, 2001: Asking military chaplains to forego their Christian beliefs during public services represents a new low in political correctness, says Canadian alliance member of parliament Art Hanger. "How on earth can a Christian chaplain represent a Muslim cleric?" asked the former defense critic. "Unless they're going to pray to a generic god, how can they represent other faiths? The military office of the chaplain general issued a new policy on public prayer last summer, asking its chaplains not to refer to certain fundamental aspects of their faith. Some of those references include the Lord's Prayer, as well as certain traditional Christian phrases like "Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Hanger, an Alberta MP, said the recent policy change has more to do with politics than the makeup of today's Canadian military. For others, including devout Roman Catholic and former soldier Peter Story, the change is welcome. "I totally agree with what they've done and I think it's important," he said. He added that it's not about being "generic," but rather its an effort to include people of all faiths.




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Religious Leaders Split on Cloning
Posted on 2001/11/26 22:47:02 ( 621 reads )


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MASSACHUSETTS, USA, November 27, 2001: Roman Catholic and conservative Protestant leaders condemned the first reported cloning of a human embryo, while other Christian and Reform Jewish leaders supported using the procedure to cure diseases. Massachusetts scientists announced Sunday that they had cloned a six-cell embryo. It wasn't clear whether the cloned embryo that Worcester, Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology announced it had created would have been capable of growing into a human being. The embryo died even before any stem cells were produced. Stem cells -- the master cells that can turn into other body tissue like heart muscle and skin -- can be used to treat a variety of diseases, scientists say. Muslim scholars called it a "new issue" and have yet to issue any guidance. Hindu opinion is also in the formative stages. There are examples from the ancient stories of the creation of beings by some process that resembles cloning. Hinduism is opposed to the deliberate killing of an embryo or fetus (except to save the life of the mother), so part of the Hindu evaluation may focus on the large failure rate of the cloning methods. Hindus also hold that a soul has connected to the embryo right from fertilization, even in a laboratory petri dish.




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Desecration of Illegal Temple Sparks Tension in Bombay Outskirts
Posted on 2001/11/25 22:49:02 ( 701 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, November 21, 2001: Tension prevailed in the sprawling Borivli National Park on the outskirts of Bombay following the desecration of an illegal temple in the area, police said. The icons of Siva, Parvati, Hanuman, Ganesha and the resting place of a local saint, Khadeshwar baba, were desecrated. Police have taken possession of the icons to prevent a flare up. Investigations are underway to nab the culprits. The park authorities allege that the temple has been illegally constructed on forest land and have made several attempts to demolish it.




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Estimating the US Muslim Population
Posted on 2001/11/25 22:48:02 ( 631 reads )


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USA, November 21, 2001: With a spotlight cast on American Muslims since September 11, one simple question has defied a clear answer and become the focus of a politically charged dispute: What is the size of the U.S. Muslim population? Four major Muslim organizations released a study in April that estimated the population at 6 million to 7 million. Based in part on that report, most media organizations, as well as the White House and the State Department, have said in recent weeks that there are at least 6 million Muslims in the country. But two studies released last month, including one commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, concluded that the total is much lower: no more than 3.4 million and perhaps as few as 1.5 million. Political clout in America is very much related to numbers, so these varying estimates are causing considerable controversy. Estimating minority faiths in America is especially difficult, for the official government census cannot, by law, ask about religion. Researchers then have to find other methods, all of which are prone to inaccuracies. Asking organizations their membership -- the method that got 7 million Muslims -- probably gives inflated figures. Calling people on the phone in surveys tends to undercount minorities because many immigrants won't respond to questions out of suspicion of a covert government investigation. Another approach, used by the World Christian Encyclopedia, is to estimate the number of people from a particular country in America from immigration records, and then assume that they are proportioned according to religion the same as their originating country. By this method, 86% of Indian immigrants would be judged Hindus, for example. One still has to guess at the number of indigenous members, such as the Black Muslims, and at the number of second and third generation members born in America. Estimates of Hindus in the USA are also clouded by the same problems.




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Wave Of Attacks Shatters Nepal Truce
Posted on 2001/11/25 22:47:02 ( 620 reads )


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NEPAL, November 24, 2001: Maoist guerrillas in Nepal have broken a four-month truce by launching attacks on police stations in the west of the country, killing at least 100 people -- most of them policemen. The violence comes two days after a senior Maoist leader, Prachanda, said the cease fire could no longer be justified because the Nepalese leadership was not being sincere. The Maoists, who have their key stronghold in the western region, are fighting to replace the impoverished Himalayan country's constitutional monarchy with a communist republic. To date the rebellion has claimed 1,800 lives. The King has declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties and allowing the use of the military against Maoists rebels.




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Women in Kashmir Valley Toss Their Burqas Aside
Posted on 2001/11/25 22:46:02 ( 745 reads )


Source: Times of India





SRINAGAR, INDIA, November 19, 2001: While the women of Afghanistan are celebrating the fall of the Taliban, their sisters in the Kashmir valley have also been liberated from wearing a burqa to cover their faces. Quoting Rifat Hyder, a working woman, " If Afghan women who were covered from head to foot can now remove their robes, why should we cover our faces? Islam has ordained women to wear a loose dress but it does not mention wearing a burqa. These are alien to Kashmir." Hindu women were exempt from the burqa requirement, but had to wear an identifying forehead mark.




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Bangladesh Court Investigates Hindu Attacks
Posted on 2001/11/25 22:45:02 ( 657 reads )


Source: The Daily Star, November 25, 2001





DHAKA, BANGLADESH, November 25, 2001: A Division Bench of the High Court of Bangladesh yesterday issued a order asking the government to explain within four weeks why it should not be asked to take proper steps to protect the country's Hindus from terrorist attacks and harrasment. The court will also hear on November 27, petitions for the punishment of persons, identified in investigations, for perpetrating pre-and post-election attacks on the Hindu community and other incidents. According to the complaint brought before the court, both the home ministry and the police administration failed to carry out their constitutional responsibilities by not taking necessary actions against atrocities against Hindus.




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U.K. Vicar Bans Yoga in Church Hall
Posted on 2001/11/24 22:49:02 ( 572 reads )


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ESSEX, UNITED KINGDOM, November 24, 2001: A vicar in Essex has banned yoga classes from his church hall because he fears it is not compatible with Christianity. Reverend Dick Farr of St Mary's Church in Henham, near Saffron Walden, said he became concerned on discovering an aim of the class was to "ascend to a higher spiritual plane." He said a leaflet advertising the classes had "overtones of Eastern mysticism". "That is not what we are into. We are into telling people about Jesus, and we do not want to muddy the waters by confusing people and giving a platform to the promotion of something else," Mr Farr said. Howard Kent, founder and director of the Bedfordshire-based Yoga for Health Foundation, said the vicar's action was "regrettable." "There is absolutely no question of trying to convert anyone to another religion."




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Sanskrit Text Oldest Example of Printing
Posted on 2001/11/24 22:48:02 ( 623 reads )


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CHINA, November 25, 2001: The exact year in which woodblock printing was invented is still very much debated in academic circles because no artifacts or documentary records related to the earliest printing have been discovered. However, a sheet with mantras of the Dharani Sutra, in Sanskrit, printed in the early Tang and unearthed in the suburban district of Xi'an is the earliest extant printing relic. A picture of the still readable sheet is shown at "source" above. The Dharani Sutra is the teaching of Buddha on "Longevity, the extinction of offenses, and the protection of young children.




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