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Another Marriage Called off Because of Dowry Demands

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:48:02 ( 1038 reads )


UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA, June 2, 2003: Yet another marriage met a premature end on Monday when the bridegroom added a Maruti car to his list of dowry demands. However, the groom, his brother and father -- all three who have been named in the complaint made by the girl's family, have not yet been arrested. The incident occurred at New Ashoka Nagar in East district. Premlata was to be engaged to Yoginder, resident of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. However, Yoginder's father, Bharat Singh Baghel called up the bride's father, Sobran Singh Baghel and declared a new demand - a Maruti car. When Sobran Singh expressed his inability to meet the demand, the boy's family called off the wedding. Satish Baghel, the bride's brother said the groom had already been paid US$1,066 in cash. "There was no way we could afford to present a car," he said. Satish complained to the police about the incident. Charges under Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act were registered against the groom, his brother Joginder and their father. Yoginder runs a hardware shop in Aligarh and teams have been sent to Uttar Pradesh to nab the accused.

Tirumala Temple Bans Coconut Breaking in Front of the Temple

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:47:02 ( 979 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 2, 2003: A coconut in the hands of a devotee is unlikely to cause any alarm. For security analysts, however, the humble offering could well be stuffed with explosives and used with maximum effect to launch an Akshardham-type attack. The very thought of such a scenario being enacted in Tirumala has made the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) contemplate shifting of Akhilandam, the place where coconuts are offered, away from the Sri Venkateswara Swami temple. Normally devotees break the coconuts near the "mahadwaram" (main entrance). Now they have to go at least 250 yards away from the main entrance to offer the coconuts. A seven-foot fencing separating the place from the main temple is also proposed. The compulsory dress code for men of dhoti (cloth waist wrap) and "angavastra" (a narrow shawl thrown around the shoulders) would make it impossible for anybody to conceal any weapon and gain entry into the temple.

Tirupati Dress Code: No Jeans or Shorts

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:46:02 ( 2164 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 4, 2003: A dress code has been established for the Lord Venkateswara (also known as Balaji) at Tirumala hills. The Tirupathi-Tirumala Devastanam (TTD), which runs the temple, has announced men will not be allowed to participate in any rituals unless they are wearing a dhoti and angavastram and women should be wearing sari or salwar kameez. The dress code, which came into effect from Tuesday, has reportedly been prompted by complaints. For now, the dress code does not apply to those visiting the temple just for darshan. "It is only for people offering specific sevas," said P. Balasubrahmanyam, a TTD official. But it may be extended to all visitors later.

Deadline Approaches for Vegetarian Article Submission

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:45:02 ( 1191 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, USA, June 6, 2003: Hinduism Today magazine is planning an article in its next issue on the subject, "Why I am a vegetarian." Hindu youth (age 24 and below) are invited to send a 300- to 500-word essay on the subject. Each writer of a published essay will receive US$25 for the piece. The essay should cover the reasons why you personally chose to remain a vegetarian if so raised (or become one if not), how you have dealt with peer pressure to change, the value of more people becoming vegetarians and/or any other aspect of vegetarianism which you would like to share. Those selected will be published in edited form in an article slated for the October/November/December issue. Deadline is June 15. Please include the essay, a three-line biodata on yourself and a high-resolution passport style photo (300 dpi, at least 2 by 3 inches) and e-mail to "source" above.

Security to be Increased During Amarnath Yatra

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:49:02 ( 983 reads )


SRINAGAR, INDIA, June 3, 2003: Security has been increased for the upcoming yatra, beginning July 12, to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath where over 100,000 pilgrims are expected this year. Officials do not want a repeat of last year's shootout in which nine pilgrims were killed. Anantnag district authorities, who reviewed the arrangements for the yatra in a meeting chaired by District Development Commissioner Shailendra Kumar on Monday, decided to set up joint control rooms at various camp locations by police and civil administration to monitor the smooth conduct of the yatra. All basic amenities would be provided to the pilgrims at different locations along the route to Pahalgam, the base camp, and the cave shrine. Medicare, power and drinking water facilities would be improved and better telecommunication system installed for the yatris. Only pilgrims to the Ice Lingam would be allowed to the cave shrine this year for pilgrimage. Casual tourists would be kept out, police said.

Gujjar Council Ban Dowries

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:48:02 ( 1037 reads )


NOIDA, INDIA, June 2, 2003: They've seen Nisha Sharma, a girl in their neighborhood, send back her groom and his family from the wedding because they wanted dowry; they've seen a groom die accidentally in some celebratory shooting. Now Gujjars in the area have announced a ban on dowry and ostentatious weddings. On Sunday, leaders from over a hundred Gujjar villages (about 20,000 families) gathered in a Maha Panchayat (community council) and announced they would boycott anyone who violated their directives and offered or accepted a dowry. They also said no firearms, liquor, bands or DJs would now be allowed at Gujjar weddings. Gujjar leaders have set up a committee under former Rajya Sabha member and Kisan leader Ramchandra Vikal to educate people and eradicate dowry from their community. Other members of the committee include UP Minister for Prisons Ved Ram Bhatti and former MLAs Narendra Bhatti and Samir Bhatti. At the meeting, Gujjar Samaj leaders felt dowry had lately become an even greater menace for them. Gujjars had prospered on the compensation they got for their land in Noida and Greater Noida and weddings had become ostentatious occasions to exhibit their newly-acquired wealth. Community leaders said that instead of saving up for dowries, parents should educate their daughters and ensure they plan a career and are financially independent. They also suggested mass, dowryless weddings be organized. Though members of the community welcomed their leaders' directives, several were doubtful about their implementation. It was up to the affluent members to stop the dowry trend, they felt.

Study Finds Sixty-Seven Percent of U.S. Immigrants are Christian, Eight Percent Muslim, Three Percent Hindu

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:47:02 ( 840 reads )

Religion News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 2, 2003: Nearly two-thirds of new immigrants to the United States are Christian, fueled mostly by Catholics coming from Latin America, according to research sponsored by several government agencies. Forty-two percent of immigrants are Catholic, 19 percent are Protestant and 4 percent are Eastern Orthodox, according to a study of almost 1,000 adult immigrants in 1996. Eight percent are Muslim, 4 percent are Buddhist, 3 percent are Jewish, 3 percent are Hindu, and 1 percent claim other religions. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Science Foundation and was conducted by Guillermina Jasso of New York University, Douglas Massey and Mark Rosenzweig of the University of Pennsylvania and James Smith of the Rand Corporation.

Change of Dates for International Hindu Human Rights Seminar

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:46:02 ( 1084 reads )


ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, June 4, 2003: On May 26, HPI carried an announcement on the Working Group Agni's plans for an international human rights conference to be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to discuss the human rights of Hindu refugees and victims of ethnic and religious violence. At the request of many attending the conference, the dates have been changed to July 4 to July 6. Readers may contact Mr. Sradhanand Sital, Chairman, regarding the conference and read further on Working Group Agni at "source" above.

Fiji Experiencing Increase in Vandalism at Temples, Churches and Mosques

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:49:02 ( 1038 reads )


SUVA, FIJI ISLANDS, June 3, 2003: Police have recorded some 73 cases of acts of vandalism in the country since May, 2000, and religious groups are concerned with these growing incidents and want the government to toughen penalties for such crimes. The plea comes in the wake of a break-in at the Olosara Hindu Temple in Sigatoka last week. A mosque in Sigatoka was also broken into, two days before Prophet Mohammed's Birthday last month. Of the 73 cases recorded, 44 Hindu temples, 19 churches and 10 mosques were broken into by vandals and holy books and other items of worship destroyed in the process. The religious groups yesterday described the act as "anti-Godliness" saying any God-loving person would not break into a place of worship. Fiji Council of Churches general secretary Benjamin Bhagwan said of the 73 cases recorded, most of them seem to be cases of "hooliganism and vandalism" except for some which may have been racial or against a particular religion. Shree Sanatan Dharam Prathinidhi Sabha acting president Surend Kumar said vandals breaking into such sacred places must be brought to justice and punished severely. Mr. Kumar said the Sabha is saddened by the recent incident in Sigatoka and hope the perpetrators will be found and appropriately punished. Fiji Muslim League president Hafiz Khan said the cases reflect acts of vandalism and are unacceptable in any society. "I do not think we have reached a state of having hate crimes. I see these incidents as normal crimes where people are desperate to make some money," Mr. Khan said. The Arya Prathinidhi Sabha of Fiji national president Kamlesh Arya said the social fabric of the society was breaking apart leading to "moral decay."

India's Parliament May Soon Have Smoke Free Zones, Movies Next?

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:48:02 ( 983 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 2, 2003: Nicotine-addicted MPs may soon be confined to a smokers' den in Parliament as part of a national drive against public smoking. A report quoted Health Minister Sushma Swaraj as saying that her ministry was planning to declare the upper and lower houses, main lobby and the Central Hall used for joint sessions as smoke free. "We have proposed to construct small chambers for smokers so that they can remain in their chambers and continue harming themselves and not others," Swaraj was quoted as saying. India accounts for a third of the world's smoking-related deaths. A World Health Organization report released three months ago accused Indian film stars of enticing teenagers to light up and urged the industry either to kick the habit or issue warnings. In February, the Cabinet approved legislation banning tobacco advertisements and seeking to regulate production and sale of tobacco products. The Anti-Tobacco Act was endorsed by Parliament and on May 30, President Abdul Kalam signed it into law. One of the main objectives of the law is to protect adolescents and passive smokers from the hazards of smoking. Other reports quoted Swaraj as saying the act would soon be implemented in Parliament. "If we have the consent to do this, we will not let anyone smoke in the corridors of Parliament," Swaraj said. HPI adds: The government might want to investigate whether the Indian film stars are being paid for smoking in movies. Americans were astounded to learn in the midst of the huge tobacco lawsuits in this country that Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky") had been paid US$500,000 to use Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation products in his next five films from 1983. You can read the original court document by clicking here and scrolling down. And you can learn more about the ways American movies are used to promote smoking by clicking here.

Temple Chariot Displays Exquisite Art But in Desperate Need of Repair

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:47:02 ( 915 reads )


THIRUKKOVILAR, INDIA, May 30, 2003: Many temples around Thirukkovilar are in a state of disrepair, often lacking in simple supplies such as oil for lamps. At a temple dedicated to Lord Siva, a temple chariot catches the eye for it is decorated with marvelous art depicting Hindu legends and stories. The chariot was last used 15 years ago in a procession and while one finds classic art carved and painted on the chariot, a few of the carvings have already been stolen. The front, known as Kodungais and Chendu, are marvelous pieces of art. On one side of the car the story of Markandeya is told in four frames. In another frame Lord Nataraja is depicted performing the cosmic dance while Nandi plays on the maddalam. Other frames depict stories from the Ramayama, and epics about Lord Krishna. Because there is no protection from vandals, this special car with artistic marvels is being defaced, as well as decaying.

Americans Twist Yoga into Some New Shapes

Posted on 2003/6/3 9:46:02 ( 984 reads )


WASHINGTON D.C., U.S.A., May 29, 2003: Americans are making yoga stand on its head with creative innovations and marketing muscle in what appears to be the second coming in the United States of the ancient Indian practice. The number of Yoga practitioners in the US has tripled from 5 million in 1998 to 15 million, according to a survey to be released next week by the California-based Yoga Journal. "It's not just plain old yoga anymore, although the original hatha yoga remains the most popular form," says Dayna Macy, communications director of the California-based Yoga Journal. There is Aqua Yoga, Dance Yoga and Power Yoga, and in some cases, individuals are devising new yoga practices as in Bikram Yoga (after the Indian guru Bikram Choudhury, who has patented doing yoga in heated rooms). Yoga has gone from the social fringes to the mainstream by melding it with popular American culture. Typical of the culture is also relentless marketing of yoga products, from yoga mats to "Yogi Tea." Most Americans are now accessing yoga through their regular gyms and fitness centers. Some are combining yoga with American dance forms like hip hop and disco, while others are imparting specialized instructions to niche segments as "yoga for would-be moms," "yoga for have-been moms," and "yoga for breast cancer survivors." Two major national yoga magazines and 24 registered yoga associations cater to this resurgence.

Yoga is Compulsory in Udupi Schools

Posted on 2003/6/2 9:49:02 ( 883 reads )


UDUPI, INDIA, May 28, 2003: The President of the Udupi Zilla Panchayat, B. Bhujanga Shetty, has said yoga, moral education, and the activities of the Seva Dal (a group committed to do social service) will be made compulsory in government and private schools in the district. Mr. Shetty said the zilla panchayat (village council) had directed the heads of schools in the district, through the DDPI, to reserve two periods every week for yoga, moral education, and for the activities of the Seva Dal. Since it would be difficult for students coming from rural areas if these were taken up after regular school hours, the school heads had been instructed to reduce the number of periods for physical education.

Notices Sent to Leaseholders of Temple Lands

Posted on 2003/6/2 9:48:02 ( 917 reads )


SRIKAKULAM, INDIA, May 30, 2003: The state government has issued notices canceling the deeds of leaseholders of temple lands. Notices were served to beneficiaries who had lease agreements with Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple in Amadalavalasa on Thursday. The decision was taken after the government found that the revenue earned through such lease deeds was minimal. It was found that some temples charge as little as US$.63 per acre per year and most of these lands were being leased by political leaders and the rich. It was also found that though the beneficiaries were reaping rich harvests, they were avoiding payment of lease money to the temple on the pretext of drought and crop failures. The government identified about 11,000 acres belonging to various temples that were given on lease and put them under the jurisdiction of the Orissa government. Apart from the open lands, buildings worth several million dollars were also given on lease. All the beneficiaries in the district were served with cancellation notices, an endowment official said. The government evaluated the lands belonging to Arasavalli, Sri Kurmam, Srimukhalingam and Mallikarjuna Sway and found that the income generated from these temples was as little as $3,800, but the value is put at several million dollars. After cancellation of lease agreements the land would be evaluated anew and would be given on lease at a public auction. Sources said that petitions were filed in the court seeking stay orders.

India's Invitro Fertilization Centers Promote Male Choice

Posted on 2003/6/2 9:47:02 ( 887 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 31, 2003: Cutting edge technology meant to detect genetic abnormalities before conception is now being used for the ethically questionable practice of selecting the sex of a child, usually a son. Invitro fertilization (IVF) clinics are now offering would-be parents the means to have a son, and this could have a lasting impact on the increasingly skewed sex ratio in India. A leading infertility expert, Dr Aniruddha Malpani, who has assisted in the birth of over 1,000 IVF babies over the last 11 years, says parents have the right to choose the sex of the child even though it is an offense. "There is technology now available which makes this possible, but the government doesn't allow this and I think it is unfair," says Dr Malpani. IVF clinics have a wide range of techniques to preselect gender even before conception. The sperm selection method chooses sperms containing the Y or male chromosome. The pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) method identifies male embryos after fertilization. Each attempt costs as much as US$2,100, but that does not deter couples desperate to have a child. "The reason IVF clinics flourish is on the tacit promise of providing male children. It's a huge business particularly in a country where you have an obvious gender bias which modern technology is helping to continue or even propagate," says Dr Vani Subhramanian Saheli. The PNDT act do not include these new reproductive techniques. "Doctors fly in from other cities and do a couple of cases and do not conduct a follow-up of the embryos. It is a total racket," says Dr. Anoop Gupta.

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