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Hindu Family Runs Kolkata Mosque

Posted on 2003/4/28 9:49:02 ( 1204 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, April 29, 2003: An ordinary middle-class Hindu family with a real estate business and a kerosene shop runs a mosque in Barasat near Kolkata. "I feel good that the Basu family looks after the mosque on their compound," Muslim priest Mohammed Abu Bakkar says. "It shows that despite all the religious hatred, Muslims and Hindus are basically one." The Basus, who live in a middle-class Hindu neighborhood dotted with small temples, have looked after the small Amanati mosque since 1964. Every Friday, around 50 to 70 Muslims of an adjoining area cram into the Amanati mosque on the Basu compound to pray. "We all pray to God, whether it is Allah or Ram. Why should there be disputes? We should think rationally," said Dipak Basu, who is in his fifties and a practicing Hindu, as he sits next to the mosque on which his family is spending around US$1,266.41 to renovate. The Basus left Muslim-majority Bangladesh in 1964 after religious riots there and settled in Barasat. They exchanged their house with a Muslim family who left for Bangladesh. "The property we got in exchange had a mosque. At that time, some neighbors said that since we were Hindus, we should demolish the mosque on our property. But my father said the mosque was God's place and we must look after it," Basu said. "Some people call me (Osama) bin Laden because my family looks after a mosque being Hindus. But I know we are all humans first, and then Hindus or Muslims."

Hindu Helps Review Draft Afghan Constitution

Posted on 2003/4/28 9:48:02 ( 970 reads )


KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, April 25, 2003: Hindus make up only a small fraction of Afghanistan's predominately Muslim population of around 25 million, however a member of the Hindu minority has been appointed to a commission that will review a draft constitution for Afghanistan. Businessman Leek Raj will be the first non-Muslim participant in the 35-member Scrutinizing Commission. "The idea is to have every strata of the country represented in the work of the constitution," said Sayed Fazi Akbar, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai. The commission, which already includes members of other minority groups and some women, is to canvas public opinion on a draft constitution due to be approved in October. "Hope has been created that our nation, with sincerity and honesty, can rebuild the country after the approval of the constitution," said Vice-President Nimatuallah Shahrani, who heads the Constitution Commission that wrote the draft. Officials said the document would stress traditional Islamic values and democracy while emphasizing social justice, equal rights for ethnic groups and women's rights.

Planetary Alignment Makes For a Lean Wedding Season Ahead

Posted on 2003/4/28 9:47:02 ( 1042 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 5, 2003: Planetary alignments have put the wedding business in the doldrums. Astrologers say this particular planetary alignment between July 23 and October 7, occuring once every 12 years, is extremely inauspicious and marriages should be put off until this phase passes. Jupiter enters Leo on July 23. While malefic Jupiter stays in Leo until August 31, 2004, the worst phase will be between July 23 and October 7. "Jupiter is basically a beneficial planet, but Simhasta Brihaspati (Jupiter in Leo) is considered bad for certain activities. Apart from weddings, one should also avoid buying property or moving into a new house," said Acharya Vikramaditya of Vivekanand Yuvashram. Astrologer Shashi Walia said despite Jupiter being in the fifth house for over a year, things will brighten for prospective couples once Venus enters Libra around October 5.

New Delhi Turns to Ancient Practice of Rainwater Harvesting

Posted on 2003/4/28 9:46:02 ( 1012 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 26, 2003: With a current population of 14 million and growing by at least 500,000 each year, New Delhi's need for water has become paramount. If current rates of water consumption continue, conservationists predict that groundwater will be depleted by 2020. In an effort to find a solution, municipal water authorities are encouraging everyone to participate in rainwater harvesting, an elegant but simple practice rooted in the traditions of ancient India. Rainwater harvesting involves channeling water from rooftops or storm drains into sand-lined underground boxes called soak pits. Water that would otherwise run off through storm sewers then percolates through the soil, replenishing natural aquifers several hundred feet below the surface. Krishan Saigal, a former official at a United Nations-funded environment agency, heads a resident's association in Panchshila Park where they have tried rainwater harvesting. Mr. Saigal says, "The project has been so successful that the water table has risen three feet in less than a year. I would never have believed it, but it works."

Banking in the Name of Lord Rama

Posted on 2003/4/27 9:49:02 ( 983 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, April 23, 2003: A bank was founded in 1971 by Mahant Nritya Gopal Das in the Ram Janam Bhoomi temple. However, money is the last requisite for opening an account in this bank because the lockers safeguard deposits in the form of the name of Lord Rama written on various media. Currently the bank holds 3,500 billion deposits from people living in places as far off as Indonesia, China, Germany, Japan, Thailand and Nepal. Each account holder is issued a valid passbook, with a record of credits and the balance in the particular account. Clients are directed to use only red ink while writing the name of Lord Rama for deposits, as red is considered an auspicious color. According to traditional beliefs, the name of Lord Rama when written by a devotee is considered a hundred times more effective and powerful than when recited. Credits are accepted in all the Indian languages, as well as six foreign languages. HPI adds: If someone has an address for this bank, please send it to ar@hindu.org so we may share it with our readers.

Shashika's Songs From The Heart

Posted on 2003/4/27 9:48:02 ( 1003 reads )


DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, April 6, 2003: Former South African singer Shashika Mooruth is back in the country to release two new CDs. Mooruth, who has toured the world performing devotional music, will release "Vraja -- Sounds Beyond Time" and "Swagatam Krishna" at the Festival of Chariots, which ran from April 18 to 21. "It is different from the kind of music I usually do because it is more techno, as opposed to the sweet devotional songs I am used to. This CD is aimed at the youth. I want to try to bring them back to their roots with music they are familiar with," she says. "The lyrics, which are of religious significance, are in Bengali and Sanskrit. We have performed some of the songs at discos in India and have received an overwhelming response." Mooruth says she uses her music more as a preaching tool. "I don't like stage performances apart from devotional. Every Saturday I sing at a two-hour program at a Krishna temple in Juhu, Mumbai. I feel that this talent has been given to me by Lord Krishna and, therefore, whatever I do, I do as an offering to Him." A strict vegetarian, she begins her day at 4 a.m. with chanting and prayer.

Yoga Studios Sprouts like Mushrooms in Bay Area

Posted on 2003/4/27 9:47:02 ( 1016 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, USA, April 13, 2003: According to the Bay Area Yoga Guide, there are more than 70 yoga studios in the nine counties around the San Francisco Bay, and most have opened since 1999. Yoga practitioners say that in the uncertain aftermath of the tech crash and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many unemployed dotcomers and jittery urbanites are simply seeking ways to lead a quieter and more fulfilling life. "Yoga is a way to cope with life and situations that are threatening your health and mental peace," said Hari Hara Nanda Das, a teacher at the Yoga Society of San Francisco. From a real estate perspective, opening a yoga studio is a cheap proposition, especially with today's drastically lower rents. There's almost no overhead -- all you really need is a flat surface and someone to teach and lead the practice. It's the reason many mainstream fitness clubs such as World Gym, Gold's Gym, Crunch and Club One, have added yoga classes to supplement their weights and machines.

New Delhi Temple Receives Demolition Notice

Posted on 2003/4/26 9:49:02 ( 922 reads )

The Pioneer

NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 27, 2003: The Municipal Corporation of Delhi issued a demolition notice to Shri Sanatan Dharam temple for having allegedly constructed area in excess than the authorized "Floor Area Ratio" -- the allowable area for building construction on a given lot size. The notice requires the temple authorities to demolish almost the whole temple complex, spread over 1.75 acres, including four temples, the charitable trust office, pravachan halls and the dharmasala. The probable date for demolition was April 26. The devotees protesting against the order said it was discriminatory and demanded that all the places of worship throughout the country be demolished as very few are in accordance with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi laws. The temple is 35-years-old and is constructed on authorized land acquired in Greater Kailash II. "The temple should not be demolished as there was no such law existing at the time of its construction," said temple president Rajnish Goenka.

Dr. Karan Singh Releases a New Book on Interfaith Understanding

Posted on 2003/4/26 9:48:02 ( 1003 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 26, 2003: Dr. Karan Singh, Member of Rajya Sabha and Chairman of the "Temple of Understanding," a global interfaith association, recently released "Education for a Global Society: Interfaith Dimensions." Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Singh said that the Temple of Understanding was an attempt to foster harmony among various religions of the world and that the fourth Parliament of Religions would be held in Barcelona, Spain, 2004.

From a Deep-Fryer in a Garage to an Indian Food Empire

Posted on 2003/4/26 9:47:02 ( 1060 reads )


NEW JERSEY, U.S.A., April 4, 2003: Stepping through the hand-carved marble arches in Arvind and Bhagwati Amin's home in Bernardsville, New Jersey, is like being transported to a palace in their native India. The Amins have a suite on the main floor while their two sons and families occupy separate wings of the house. Each day everyone gathers to pray together in the family's shrine room. The luxuries they enjoy have their roots in a humble food, Hot Mix, a spicy Indian "trail mix" of fried noodles made from chickpea flour and tossed with cashews, pistachios and spices. It was the first item produced by the family business, Deep Foods, which Arvind Amin laughingly calls "the Frito-Lay, Haagen-Dazs and Stouffer's of Indian food." The company makes 65 snack foods, as well as ice cream and frozen entrees. The inspiring full story of the Amin's extended family and their success in the Indo-American fast food industry can be found at "source" above.

A Favorite Proverb of JFK

Posted on 2003/4/26 9:46:02 ( 1184 reads )

Reader's Digest

UNITED STATES, April 26, 2003: President John F. Kennedy appreciated this proverb which he believed originated from Ireland, but actually was from India's epic, the Ramayana. "There are three things which are real: God, human folly and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third."

Mauritius to Host Global Summit on Medicinal Plants

Posted on 2003/4/25 9:49:02 ( 1028 reads )


MAURITIUS, April 25, 2003: The Century Foundation and Bangalore University are organizing a Global Summit on Medicinal Plants to be held on the island of Mauritius, September 25-30, 2003. The main Theme of the Conference will be "Recent Trends in Cultivation, Conservation, Phytomedicine and Other Alternative Therapies for Human Welfare." The Island of Mauritius, venue of the conference, is unique in its flora and fauna. There are around 700 species of indigenous plants, of which about 300 are endemic to the region. Several endemic and indigenous species are used in the traditional medicines. Because many endemic plants in Mauritius are on the verge of extinction, it's felt there is a need to promote the revitalization and use of local health traditions of ethno-medicine in the region and share the benefits derived from traditional knowledge with the global community. Readers may contact Dr. V. Sivaram at "source" above for information regarding the conference.

Kedarnath and Badrinath Shrines to Reopen in May

Posted on 2003/4/25 9:48:02 ( 963 reads )


GOPESHWAR, UTTARANCHAL, INDIA, April 24, 2003: Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines in the Garhwal Himalayas will be reopened on May 5 and 8 respectively for pilgrims after their annual winter closure, district magistrate Chamoli said. The Kedarnath Shrine, dedicated to Lord Siva, is situated at an elevation of 3,584 meters in Rudraprayag district while Badrinath Shrine, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is situated at an elevation of 3,110 meters in Chamoli district in the Indo-Tibetan Himalayan border region. Hundreds of thousands of devotees throng these shrines yearly during the pilgrimage season. According to D.M. Chamoli, all necessary security arrangements had been made to ensure a peaceful pilgrimage along with arrangements for providing necessary sanitation facilities for the pilgrims.

Bhakti Is a Bestseller

Posted on 2003/4/25 9:47:02 ( 1134 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 19, 2003: While indipop, bhangra, rap and remix albums come and go in popularity, Indians listen to devotional music morning after morning without getting tired. Believing in God seems the safest bet in the music industry, industry insiders say. While there may be many reasons for the perpetual popularity of devotional songs, a spokeswoman of Music Today says, "There's so much stress that people are increasingly veering towards spiritualism and bhajans/stotras fulfill that need." People of all ages are buying CD recording of just bhajans and kirtans. Pure Sanskrit slokas are also popular. Devotional music stays at the top of the charts, even beyond the festival seasons of Navaratri, Ganesha Chaturthi and Deepavali. The popularity associated with devotional songs is also inspiring singers of other genres of music to venture into this territory.

New York City Celebrates Naba Barsha and Vaishaki

Posted on 2003/4/24 9:49:02 ( 1020 reads )


NEW YORK CITY, U.S.A., April 22, 2003: New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Council Member James Gennaro celebrated Naba Barsha (Bengali Hindu New Year) and Vaishaki (Punjabi New Year, harvest and time when the Khalsa Panth was established) were celebrated at City Hall in New York City on Tuesday. Organized by Queens County District Leader Uma Sengupta, the program included dances by acclaimed Oddisi exponent Gargi Chattopadhyay's OMNA Ancient Arts troupe, and Punjabi and Bhangra Folk Dances by the Ranjanee and Neelkanthdham Groups. OMNA Ancient Arts' dance program was entitled "New Year Celebration Through the World -- Peace and Harmony" and included the Vedic Mantra "Shanti Patahah." Rabindranath Tagore's song on New Year in Bengali was sung and his poem "Where the mind is without fear" was read aloud to the 100 plus attendees. Two symbolic candles where lit to mark world peace and for the safety and remembrance of the U.S. troops overseas. Master of Ceremonies Suprabhat Sengupta explained the significance of New Year in India's varied communities and how the community here in the United States is keeping that spirit and heritage alive. Council Member James Gennaro expressed gratitude to the Indian community for its support in his election victory as well as bringing strong cultural values to the melting pot of NYC. Mr. Gennaro was not shy about participating in the Bhangra dance and was enthusiastically cheered on by the audience. City Citations were presented to community leaders as well as the participants in the ceremony and the program ended with a full-course Indian dinner. As one participant noted, "This is the first time that the Indian flag was hung at the Council Chambers in City Hall and 'Jana Gana Mana' reverently sung. Its one big step in gaining recognition as a community, as well as an election block." Readers may kindly contact Ishani Chaudury at "source" above for further information.

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