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Refresher Course for Durga Puja Priests

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:47:02 ( 810 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, October 8, 2002: Bangiyo Purohit Sabha, an organization of priests, has organized refresher courses, Pourahitya Prashikshan Sibir, training for performing pujas (ritual worship), at Sobhabazar Rajbari to assist priests in performing the rituals of Durga Puja in a ''perfect and professional way.'' According to Sabha Secretary Ram Gopal Shastri, who also runs a Sanskrit academy at Thakurpukur, priest work has ceased to be an attractive profession for the younger generation. ''There is a serious need to train priests to perform the worship correctly,'' Shastri said, lamenting that most of the present-day priests lacked adequate knowledge in Sanskrit. ''Respect for the priests can be regained only when they perform the rituals with perfection and for that purpose, the refresher courses can be of great importance,'' he added.

Temple Burnt, Idols Destroyed In Bangladesh

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:46:02 ( 787 reads )


KISHOREGANJ, BANGLADESH, October 8, 2002: In the northern area of Kishoreganj, a temple was set ablaze and badly damaged Saturday. A leaflet left behind called for an end to "idol worship" and for a mosque to be built in the temple's place, the Sangbad newspaper reported. One day later, a group destroyed statues of deities, made ahead of the major Hindu festival of Durga Puja on Thursday, in Narayanganj near the capital Dhaka. Opposition leaders have alleged persecution of Bangladeshi Hindus since Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Islamist-allied coalition swept into power last October. The government has denied any campaign against Hindus, who form about 12 percent of Bangladesh's 130 million-strong population, and has assured full security for the festival Thursday. The US State Department's 2002 International Religious Freedom Report said Bangladeshis "generally are free to practice the religion of their choice," but said police are often slow to assist minorities who are victims of crimes.

Amnesty International Concerned about Attacks on Bangladesh Hindus

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:45:02 ( 865 reads )


DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 10, 2002: The Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticized Bangladesh, alleging large scale attack on the country's minority community, particularly Hindus. Expressing concern over human rights situation in Bangladesh, Amnesty said the attack against Hindus by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporters increased after the October general elections for their perceived support to the Awami League.

Skipping Stones Magazine Celebrates Gandhi

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:44:02 ( 763 reads )


EUGENE, OREGON, October 4, 2002: Skipping Stones, an international, multicultural magazine based in Oregon, celebrated the life of Mahatma Gandhi and his contributions to the world with a multicultural concert on October 2. The theme of the two-hour evening program was: Cultural Diversity, Nonviolence, Gandhi. Peace stories and dances for all ages, and multi-ethnic music that included Hindi and Punjabi spiritual songs, heart-touching Andean music, a classical Indian Raga on Spanish Guitar, and a peace song in Hebrew and English, brought an atmosphere of bliss and peace to a capacity crowd at the First Christian Church in the heart of the city. One of Mahatma Gandhi's favorite bhajanas, Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, which was heard countless times during his prayer services in India, was led by Bidyut Das during the program. A two-voice narrative highlighted the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, and how his spirit continues to guide countless social activists as well as alternative publications such as Skipping Stones, which was conceived at a Gandhian Ashram in Gujarat, India, in 1986. During the last 14 years, the magazine has served the children and youth around the world by giving an expression for their creativity and by offering them an international forum for communication. The interfaith tribute to Gandhi was organized by Arun Toke (e-mail at "source" above), founder and executive editor of Skipping Stones. A native of India, Mr. Toke, stressed the relevance of Gandhi's simplicity, truthfulness, and nonviolent ways in today's world.

Hindu Student Conference Scheduled for January

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:43:02 ( 814 reads )


OHIO, USA, October 10, 2002: The Hindu Student Council of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) is inviting all interested college and graduate students to a conference over Martin Luther King Day Weekend, January 18 and 19, 2003, in Columbus, Ohio. The subject areas and speakers are from a wide variety of disciplines ranging from Vedanta, Temple art, and puja (worship) to bioethics and Indian politics. The deadline for early registration and accommodations is December 1st; the deadline for late registration is January 5th. For more information, click "source" above.

Molestation Charges at Catholic School in India

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:42:02 ( 824 reads )

Christians, Muslims Upset Over Tamil Nadu Conversion Decree

Posted on 2002/10/10 8:41:02 ( 923 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 7, 2002: Christian and Muslim organizations on Monday sharply reacted to the Tamil Nadu Government's Ordinance banning use of force or inducement in religious conversions in the state. The All India Christian Council (AICC) has threatened to challenge the measure in court. "Forcible or induced conversion is an oxymoron. It is not possible, and is rejected by the Church. Conversion is the exercise of free choice by an individual in fulfillment of his or her own spiritual needs. This is a basic human right and is guaranteed in the Indian Constitution and by the United Nations," AICC said in a statement. Terming the Tamil Nadu ordinance a serious infringement of the Freedom of Religion, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat said the constitution grants anyone not only the right to freely profess and practice a religion of one's choice but also to propagate it. A similar, long-standing law regulating religion conversion in Orissa has been upheld by India's Supreme Court.

Akshardham Temple Reopens After Terrorist Attack

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:49:02 ( 1042 reads )


GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, October 7, 2002: On Monday, the Akshardham temple complex at Gandhinagar was a picture of serenity. Throughout the day, people kept filtering in through the main gate and almost all visited the main temple and exhibition halls. Had the metal detectors and armed security personnel been absent, one would not have guessed that this was the site of a bloody militant attack. Opening as it did to the public after a fortnight, Akshardham was full of activity on Monday. The temple had been shut since September 24, when militants entered the complex and shot dead 30 civilians and three security personnel. It was re-opened to public under heavy security today. ''The temple has once again got an air of serenity and peace. Despite people knowing the temple is closed on Mondays, over 2,000 people visited since morning,'' said Jayesh Mankanda, a volunteer.

Delhi Children Honor Gandhi's Birthday

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:48:02 ( 812 reads )

Source: Rajiv Malik

DELHI, INDIA, October 3, 2002: A program entitled Peace and Harmony, a Festival of Songs was presented jointly yesterday by the Sarvodaya International Trust, New Delhi Chapter, and India International Centre. Children groups of New Delhi's eleven prestigious public schools presented songs dedicated to the memory of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. The songs were beautifully presented and the choreography was just breathtaking. Gandhiji's favorite song "Vaishnav Jan To Taine Kahiye Je Peer Parai Jane Re," "The really good human beings are those who feel the pain of others," was repeatedly sung at the function. The function was held at a open park and several hundred people saw the performance of the children in pindrop silence. The highlight of the program was that almost all the children were wearing very well designed colorful Hindu outfits. The outfits included saris and churidar suits for the girls and kurta pajamas for the boys. The color choice and the color combinations of the outfits were just superb and it was a virtual feast for the eyes.

Balinese Dance Troupe Commences American Tour

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:47:02 ( 933 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 2002: Seven of Bali's top Hindu dancers arrived in the United States recently to commence a five-week national tour beginning October 1 near Washington, D. C. Heading the troupe is one of Bali's oldest, best known and highly respected dancers, Ni Ketuk Cenik. The Master Dancers of Bali - an exposition of the traditional dances of Bali is was organized by Gary Lindsey Artist Services of the United States. From October 8 to November 3 their tour continues through Schenectady, New York City, Amherst, Sheyboygan, Bozeman, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Santa Fe and Scottsdale. Click "source" above for tour dates and venues.

American Students Do Not Want to Dissect Animals

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:46:02 ( 901 reads )

Source: New York Times

NEW YORK, U.S.A., October 1, 2002: When 16-year-old Jennifer Watson of Baltimore was removed from her high school honors anatomy class because she refused to dissect a cat, the Humane Society stepped in and requested that dissection alternatives be offered at Kenwood High School. School officials relented when 20 protesters picketed outside Jennifer's high school. She was allowed back in her class and could perform computer simulated dissections. Jennifer said, "I've loved animals my whole life. I was standing up for what I believe in." Around the nation, increasing numbers of students are choosing to learn anatomy from computer simulations. The article says, "According to the Humane Society of the United States, eight states have approved opt-out policies - California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. However, the National Association of Biology Teachers says, 'No alternatives can substitute the actual experience of dissection.' Wendell Mohling, a former biology teacher and associate executor of the National Science Teachers Association says, 'There were few suitable alternatives when I taught, but now there are some extremely sophisticated virtual technologies.' Lesley King, the Humane Society's director for education and animal welfare says, 'The Humane Society accepts the need for dissections in veterinary education, but urges schools to use only animals that have been euthanized because of illness or old age.' "

"Get Connected" Youth Event in London, October 26 and 27

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:45:02 ( 806 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, October 9, 2002: The year's second "Get Connected Youth Event organized by Hinduyouthuk is scheduled for October 26 and 27 at Alexandra Palace, Wood Green, London N22. Admission is free to the Interactive Zones: Kids, Careers, Culture, Spirituality, Chill-Out, Chat, Health & Vitality and for the Stage acts: Fashion, Dance, Music, Drama. There is a food court as well. Click "source" above for more information.

Kashmiris Go On Strike over Falwell's Remarks

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:44:02 ( 749 reads )


SRINIGAR, INDIA, October 7, 2002: The Kashmir valley observed a total shutdown on Monday following angry protests by mobs protesting remarks reportedly made by a Presbyterian minister in the US against the Prophet Mohammed. A derogatory reference to the Prophet reportedly made by Rev. Jerry Falwell during a 60-minute interview on CBS television was published in the local daily Al-Safa News on Monday, angering a large number of Kashmiris. The daily published the entire interview, adding to the anger among the people. The local traders' federation joined the protests by calling for a shutdown of markets across the Valley. The public response was so spontaneous that markets, traffic, educational institutions and banks closed much ahead of the traders' appeal. Youths came out on roads and started throwing stones in downtown Srinagar, bringing life to a virtual halt in this densely populated area of the state summer capital.

Brahmins Do Not Have Monopoly to Perform Temple Puja

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:43:02 ( 804 reads )

Source: The Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 5, 2002: The Supreme Court has ruled that brahmins do not have a monopoly over performing puja in a temple and said a non-brahmin, properly trained and well-versed with the rituals, could be appointed as a pujari (temple priest). "As long as anyone well-versed and properly trained and qualified to perform the puja in a manner conducive and appropriate to the worship of the particular deity, is appointed as priest, no valid or legally justifiable grievance can be made in a court of law," the court said on Thursday. This ruling was given by Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Justice Doraiswamy Raju who upheld the appointment of a non-brahmin as pujari in Kongoopilly Neerikode Siva Temple at Alangad village in Ernakulam, Kerala. Justice Raju, writing for the Bench, said no doubt only a qualified person, well-versed and properly trained for the purpose, alone could perform pujas in the temple since he not only had to enter the sanctum sanctorum but also touch the icon installed therein.

Community Program to Understand Other Religions Successful

Posted on 2002/10/9 8:42:02 ( 899 reads )

Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS, October 7, 2002: It was a little awkward at first, but one-by-one people of many faiths, from all corners of the city, removed their shoes and walked a path toward understanding. Almost 200 people participated Sunday afternoon in Hindu 101 at the BAPS Swami Narayan Sanstha Hindu temple on Paul Jones Avenue as part of the National Conference for Community and Justice's "Experiencing Our Neighbors' Faith" program, whereby people experience the worship services of other religions. Before entering the temple, visitors had to remove their shoes at the front door. "We remove our shoes as a mark of humility," Sri Jnanpurushdas Santh, or priest, told the crowd. "And also because it is our goal to come into the temple as natural as possible and leave the things we carry with us outside. The temple is the place for the mind." Sunday's seminar was the kickoff to the monthly program that promotes cultural and religious understanding. Faith leaders from the Hindu, Muslim, Judaism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bahai, Metropolitan Church, Catholic and Unitarian-Universalist communities will take part in the program. All sessions are free and open to the public. Organizer Prarbha Mulukutla said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. Attendees were ushered into the temple and split off into sections by gender. Seated cross-legged on the floor, they all listened to traditional prayer songs and explanations of the three bodies that exist in the Hindu religion, including the physical body, the mind and the spirit, and the five basic elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. Jnanpurushdas gave a detailed explanation of the opening prayers. Tammy Wong of San Antonio said she hopes to come back next month to visit a Muslim mosque. She was in town for the weekend and attended the session with a friend from the Unitarian-Universalist church. She said she had done some research on the Hindu faith but had not had the opportunity to sit through a service before. "It is beautiful," she said.

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