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Amnesty International Appeals to Bangladesh Government
Posted on 2001/12/4 22:49:02 ( 766 reads )


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December 5, 2001: The Bangladeshi government must take urgent action to protect the country's Hindu minority following weeks of grave human rights abuses, Amnesty International said today in a new report. Before the general election in October, the Hindu community was targeted, reportedly by supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for their perceived support for the rival Awami League. The backlash after the elections was systematic and severe. Bangladeshi press has reported that attackers have entered Hindu homes, beaten family members and looted their property. "Successive governments have let down the Hindu minority in Bangladesh and the last two months show exactly how vulnerable the Hindu community is. The government must live up to its responsibility to protect all of its citizens and it must do it now," Amnesty International said.




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Virtual Journey into Varanasi
Posted on 2001/12/4 22:48:02 ( 629 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 5,2001: A multi-media exhibition that applies some of the latest interactive technology to one of India's most sacred cities, Varanasi (Banaras), has just ended in the Indian capital of Delhi. It took viewers on a virtual journey -- including a ride on an electronic rickshaw -- to explore what is widely believed to be one of the world's oldest living cities. The director of the unusual exhibition, Ranjit Makkuni, said his objective was to demystify modern technology by presenting it in culturally recognizable forms. At a turn of its handle, it takes you through Varanasi's streets. The exhibition also included an installation that focuses on the Ganges in the form of what Makkuni calls an electronic-pot. Footage of the river as it actually flows by Varanasi is interspersed with classical dance recitals by some of India's leading artists telling the story of the river's arrival on Earth via the matted locks of God Siva.




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Vietnam's Siva Lingams
Posted on 2001/12/4 22:47:02 ( 779 reads )


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VIETNAM, June 23, 2001, A Siva Lingam monument, a relic from the lost Champa Kingdom, stands proudly at the My Son site in Vietnam. Statues depicting Lingam and Yoni can be found in Hindu-influenced cultures across the entire Asian region. But the Cham religion in Vietnam has taken these images and fashioned them into a distinctive and different form. Lingam and Yoni in the Cham religion differ from their Indian progenitors and their presence in Vietnam is evidence of the profound influence of Indian culture and religion in the country. It is also proof of the strong sense of identity of the Cham people, who borrowed from Hinduism and created statues and temples with a style all of their own. Cham Linga sculptures generally have a flat top, with only a few featuring spherical shapes. they are generally found in three different styles: square; another in two parts, one cylindrical and one square; and another has a cylindrical upper, the middle is octagonal and the bottom is square. Linga and Yoni are usually constructed as one structure. Traditionally only one Linga is attached to the Yoni, but in some Cham sculptures many Linga can be found on a single Yoni platform. The differences between Cham sculptures and those found else where in the Hindu world demonstrate subtle changes from their origins.




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Call for Papers on South Asian Studies
Posted on 2001/12/4 22:46:02 ( 680 reads )


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MADISON, WISCONSIN, December 5, 2001: Frank Morales of the University of Wisconsin at Madison writes, "This proposed anthology will include papers by leading scholars and professors who specialize in many fields of South Asian Studies. These fields include: Religious Studies, Philosophy, History, Literature, Political Science, Languages, Indigenous Sciences, Anthropology, Geology, Psychology, Medical Sciences, Sociology, etc. The focus of the book will be on new approaches, epistemological issues and methodological developments that will encourage a shift in South Asian Studies away from a neo-colonialist perspective and towards a perspective that is more sympathetic to the indigenous Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain cultures of South Asia. Additionally, we are especially seeking papers that critique the last 200 years of Indology/South Asian Studies, either on specific points or more generally. Papers must strictly fit these criteria to be considered for inclusion." Contact "source" above for further information.




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Correction on India's President
Posted on 2001/12/4 22:45:02 ( 768 reads )


Source: HPI





December 5, 2001: A report yesterday mistakenly identified Sri R. Venkataraman as "India's President." He is, of course, a past president of India. The present president is Sri K.R. Narayanan.




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Devadasi Tradition Subject of New Film
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:49:02 ( 836 reads )


Source: India West





LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 1, 2001: The dedication of girls to temples in India is the topic of "Maya," a new film from director Dijvijay Singh. The film's release was hailed for its unsparing depiction of India's little-understood devadasi tradition. The film centers around twelve-year-old Maya (Nitya Shetty) who lives with her middle class family. The day that Maya reaches puberty, her childhood comes to an abrupt end as relatives start planning for the biggest event of the young girl's life: a feast and ceremony to dedicate her to the Goddess Yellamma. The films producer, Dileep Singh Rathode, stated that the subject matter is never made titillating, nor is it glossed over. "Reports from nongovernmental organizations state that until recently, as many as 15,000 girls were believed to be dedicated as devadasis in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka." Although this practice has been banned by the Indian government, the devadasi tradition persists, primarily among the dalit or "outcaste" community.




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Krittika Bonfires Light South India
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:48:02 ( 712 reads )


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TIRUVANNAMALAI, INDIA, November 30, 2001: Hundreds of thousands of devotees witnessed the grand spectacle of the lighting of the Annamalai Maha Deepam (bonfire) on top of the 2,668-feet high Annamalai hills on the occasion of Krittika Deepam which marked the culmination of the 10-day Krittika Deepam festival here on Friday. Bonfires are lit near temples throughout South India on this day, also known as Sivalaya Deepam, with the Annamali fire the grandest of them all.




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Conversion in New Delhi
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:47:02 ( 739 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 15, 2001: Speaking out against religious conversion Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a Hindu spiritual leader, says at a meeting here, "If a person is converted by proselytization, he's uprooted from his tradition. There's a need to see we all live in harmony and mutual respect." Despite these sentiments, conversion is a reality throughout India which has left the aftermath of hard feelings between Hindu Groups and Christian missionaries. Hindus feel that the Christian groups have forced conversion on poor Hindus who are offered education and health care after they have converted to Christianity. Denying the accusations, Christians say they only want to help the needy. In the early part of November, thousands of Hindu Dalits ("untouchables") converted to Buddhism. Even though the caste system has been banished in India, 160 million Dalits have been denied basic social rights. They felt the conversion would give them social status. India's President, R. Venkataraman, spoke candidly, "Conversion leads to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to retaliation by reconversion. You should not try to convert by force, fraud, or inducements."




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Harrison's Ashes Bound for India
Posted on 2001/12/3 22:46:02 ( 703 reads )


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VARANASI, INDIA, December 3, 2001: George Harrison's intimate relationship with Indian mysticism, music and Hinduism sent his wife and son on a pilgrimage to the holy Ganges river in India, where his ashes will be scattered. No report has appeared as to where or when Harrison's widow, Olivia and his 23-year-old son, Dhani, were to arrive, but it is believed they will scatter Harrison's ashes both at Varanasi and Allahabad, site of the recent Kumbha Mela. Harrison had his first contact with Hinduism in the sixties at the Himalayan retreat of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu spiritual guru. This discovery of Eastern mysticism eventually led him to his involvement with the Hare Krishna movement.




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Delhi's Teens Get Religion
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:49:02 ( 718 reads )


Source: Times of India





NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 27, 2001: Teenagers in Delhi are conformists to the core -- they are more religious than their peers in other metros and want mama to choose their life partners. A recent survey conducted by Hyderabad-based market research firm NFO-MBL over five metros found 53 per cent of Delhi's youngsters saying religion was an important part of their lives. The survey covered those in the 15-19 age group and represented the top 60 per cent of the socio-economic strata. Priests at the Sai Baba Temple in Lodhi Road, Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place and the Chattarpur Temple near Mehrauli corroborate these statistics. Pandit Sudhir Sharma, the chief priest of Hanuman temple found an increase of 35-40 per cent attendance by youth over the last two years. Mumbai, at 21 per cent, records the lowest religious-orientation among youngsters. Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore are a respectable 30 per cent. Sociologist Renuka Singh says there is a positive correlation between religion and family ties. "Religious orientation is something a child picks up from home.




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Thailand's White Elephants
Posted on 2001/12/2 22:48:02 ( 787 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 ( 706 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 ( 725 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 ( 750 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 ( 691 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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