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Hindu Press International
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Thailand's White Elephants
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:48:02 ( 741 reads )


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BANGKOK, THAILAND, Dec 2, 2001: Khun Phra, Thailand's esteemed royal white elephant, is in the pink of health and that spells good news for a nation worried about its shaky economy. Thailand considers white elephants to be highly auspicious and deserving of the greatest care. The country has 11 white elephants chosen on the basis of distinct markings by a team of experts skilled in the mysterious and Byzantine art of white-elephant classification. Just how one spots a white elephant is laid down in the Khochalak, an ancient text that originated in India but was translated into Thai centuries ago. Khun Phra is deemed to be the "whitest" of the white elephants, which are apparently more shades of pink than white. He has four mahouts and is under 24-hour watch. Khun Phra's veterinarian, ML Phiphatanachatr Diskul, said classifying white elephants was left to three experts, of whom he is one, and several families with generations of experience. The discovery of white elephants is considered a symbolic indication of the greatness and majesty of the king. Head shape, personality, the way the elephant sleeps, snores and walks and the way the eyes glance must all be quietly observed from a distance.




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Trustees Object to Billboards Inside Temple
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:47:02 ( 671 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, November 28, 2001: Up until recently, the outer walls of temple compounds have had advertising on them as well as film posters and political agendas. Desperate to maintain temples in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the government, with prompting from the Endowment Department, allowed billboards to be erected within the temple premises. Temple trustees at the Katta Maisamma temple at Begumpet have objected to the billboards, which is some cases tower above the temple own entry towers. The trustees feel that the ads are offensive and distracting to worshipping devotees and interfere with temple sanctity. Generating revenues of US$4,255 to $10,638 a year, billboard advertising is planned at eight more important temples.




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Thirumuruga Kirupanandha Vaariyar Swamigal Site Announced
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:46:02 ( 679 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, December 3, 2001: A new web site on very popular Tamil orator and singer, Thirumuruga Kirupanandha Vaariyar Swamigal, has been created by S.Thiru Chudar Nambiand is now available at "source" above.




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Sudhir Parikh Donates $151K For World's Biggest Temple
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:45:02 ( 710 reads )


Source: Press Release





NEW YORK, USA, December 2, 2001: The Vraj Temple of the Pusti Margiya Vaishnava Samaj of North America received a major financial boost in its bid to build a large temple on a 50,000 square-foot area. New Jersey-based well-known Indian American community leader and philanthropist, Dr. Sudhir M. Parikh, made a record donation of US$151,000 on the occasion of Diwali and Annakut festivities on November 18. The temple will be a replica of the famed, original Shrinathjee temple in Nathdwara, near Udaipur, Rajasthan. Drs. Sudhir and Sudha Parikh's donation makes them the highest benefactors to Vraj Temple in its 14-year history. For more details contact: Pramod Amin, 2103 Mason Hill Drive, Alexandria Virginia 22306-2415. Phone: (703) 765-1554 and (703) 338-2646.




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More Hindus Massacred in Kashmir
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:49:02 ( 664 reads )


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KASHMIR, INDIA, December 2, 2001: Seven Hindus en route to a wedding in Udhampur district were massacred by Islamic guerrillas in the southern mountains of Kashmir, adding to the 19 deaths in overnight violence. In New Delhi, a defense ministry source said that a "pro-active" plan was being put in place to quell Islamic raiders in Udhampur, home to thousands of Hindus. Elsewhere in Muslim-majority Kashmir, 16 separatists, two female civilians and an Indian army major were killed. Twenty-one houses and a school were destroyed in unabated gunbattles between Indian soldiers and the guerrillas. The Indian government warned that Taliban militia on the run in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar district could cross into Kashmir via Pakistan and push up bloodletting in the territory.




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George Harrison Dead at 58
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:48:02 ( 664 reads )


Source: CNN





LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: After a prolonged battle with cancer, former Beatle lead guitarist and songwriter George Harrison is dead at 58. About Indian music and philosophy, Harrison had said: "After 'Norwegian Wood,' I met Ravi Shankar at a friend's house in London for dinner. He offered to give me instructions in the basics of the sitar, like how to sit, how to hold it, and the basic exercises. It was the first time I had ever really learned music with a bit of discipline. Then I started to listen to Indian music for the next two years, and hardly touched the guitar, except for recordings. Having all these material things, I wanted something more. And it happened that at just the time I wanted it, it came to me in the form of Ravi Shankar, Indian music, and the whole Indian philosophy."




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Pandit Ravi Shankar Reminisces About George Harrison
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:47:02 ( 646 reads )


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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: Ex-Beatle George Harrison, stricken with cancer, passed away to the sonorous tone of Hare Krishna chants. He was a lifelong follower of Hindu philosophy and was associated with the Hare Krishna movement. By his bedside was sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, now 82, a father figure to Harrison. Ravi Shankar, who in many ways was introduced to the west by Harrison, had an aide call with a statement. "It was my sitar and Indian religion which connected me to George in the beginning. He was a friend, disciple, and son to me," he said. "George was a brave and beautiful soul, full of love, childish humour and deep spirituality," he continued, "He has left us with so many moments and memories in our lives that will remain with us forever." Ravi Shankar's daughter Anoushka spoke of a 1995 holiday in India when they spent Christmas and New Year's together in Rajasthan and New Delhi with Harrison. It was to be Harrison's last visit to his spiritual home. "He was so Indian," Anoushka recalled, "So comfortably Indian."




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Record Diwali Turnout in Durban
Posted on 2001/12/1 22:46:02 ( 688 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 ( 708 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 ( 801 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 ( 619 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 ( 634 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 ( 603 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 ( 755 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 ( 656 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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