Hindu Press International

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American Employers Adjust to Multiple Religious Holiday Schedules


Posted on 2002/9/19 9:49:02 ( 992 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, September 19, 2002: Few U.S. employers list the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur as employee holidays. The same goes for Ramadan, the most religiously significant time of year for the world's 1 billion Muslims. But as the workplace has become more racially, ethnically and religiously diverse, firms have tried to devise ways for their Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto Muslim, Jewish or Baha'i employees -- indeed, all non-Christians -- to take time off to observe their holidays. "Most organizations today have become pretty good about handling non-Christian holidays, and certainly Jewish holidays are not a new issue in the American workplace," said Julie O'Mara, principal of O'Mara & Associates in Castro Valley, which works with major employers on issues of diversity. Most companies, especially large ones, offer what she refers to as "PTO" days -- personal time off -- that can be used by employees for any reason. Typically two to four days a year, the time off could be used, for instance, to observe Yom Kippur. "We still live in a Christian-dominated culture at the same time our workplaces have become increasingly diverse," O'Mara said. "Sometimes, non-Christian holidays or observances are just not on the radar of a company's human resources department or senior management." That's why she is a big fan of "diversity calendars" distributed by some employers to either managers or their entire work force. Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc. is one of those companies. Each year, Safeway passes out calendars that include up to two dozen well-known, as well as more obscure, religious observances each month. In highly diverse high-tech, being respectful of all religious traditions is vital, said Joe Gabbert, executive vice president of worldwide human resources for Documentum Inc. The Pleasanton-based software firm gives its nearly 1,000 employees worldwide two "floating holidays" yearly -- and they are very popular. "We have many Hindu and Muslim employees, and they definitely make use of these days for religious observances," he said.






Vajpayee Hails India Supreme Court Decision on Textbook Changes


Posted on 2002/9/19 9:48:02 ( 818 reads )


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New York, New York, September 15, 2002: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has hailed the verdict of the Supreme Court that the BJP-led NDA government was not "saffronising" education and said it was good the matter came up in the apex court. "Saffronizing" is a term used in a negative sense by the Indian press to mean changing or adapting something to match the views and teachings of Hindus in general or the RSS in particular. Vajpayee said ever since his government came to power, allegations were being levelled against his government that it was "saffronising" education. "It was good that the matter came up in the Supreme Court which turned down the plea that the education was being saffronised," Vajpayee said at a function organized by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in memory of Swami Vivekananda. The Supreme Court had on September 12 upheld the National Curriculum Framework for Secondary education (NCFSE) rejecting the contention that it was an attempt to saffronise education. In the context of saffronisation of education, Vajpayee in a lighter vein wondered what was wrong with this. "If saffronisation is taking place, what is wrong in it," he said amid laughter. Vajpayee went on to say "Bhagwa (Saffron) is a good color and it is associated with the battlefields for ages. The color has a long history." The Prime Minister said people in India must be made aware of the country's rich cultural heritage.






PBS Modifies Program on Gujarat Riots


Posted on 2002/9/18 9:49:02 ( 793 reads )


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USA, September 18, 2002: IndiaCause issued a press release today which states in part, "Major plans of Anti-Hindu propaganda using PBS program defeated. The program projected the Gujarat riots as genocide and is to be aired tomorrow throughout USA. Last Thursday IndiaCause launched a campaign of protest with PBS. As a result, in two days PBS has considerably diluted the description about this documentary. In fact, they removed all misleading objectionable propaganda information from their website. We have received an assurance from PBS Executive Director that the show will not be anti-India propaganda." For example, the statement on the PBS website, "Will the nation be split -- by a Hindu fundamentalist movement hoping to rise to power by fanning the winds of religious extremism?" Was changed to "Will the nation be split by an increasingly powerful Hindu nationalist movement?" For details, click "source" above.






Annual Ganesha Festival Good for Business


Posted on 2002/9/18 9:48:02 ( 822 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, September 15, 2002: The 10-day long Ganesha celebrations in Maharashtra are known to affect industrial production in and around Pune due to lack of worker attendance. But, for small businessmen, Ganapati may be another form of Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) as they do more business during the ten days than the rest of the year. A 50-year-old sweet shop in a busy Pune market gets nearly 2,500 customers during the 10-day Ganapati festival each year as compared to just over 500 on other days. The booming business is evident with high sales in sweets, flowers, decorations, religious books, cassettes and extravagant jewellery. "While, I earn US$10 on a regular day, during Ganesha festival, it goes up to $100 a day," says a local florist. "The sale of imitation gold jewellery is very important during this period. And I earn my entire year's profit in these four days," adds a local jeweller. While efforts are on to make Pune a city of festivals, with the kind of business being generated during the Ganesha festival, it may be possible sooner than expected.






Puranic Encyclopedia CD Issued


Posted on 2002/9/18 9:47:02 ( 1019 reads )


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ORISSA, INDIA, September 18, 2002: An exhaustive work covering ancient Indian culture in all aspects: history, geography, religion, myths, beliefs and practices as depicted in the epics and puranas. Based on Motilal Banarsidass' "The Puranic Encyclopedia," with thousands of pages of searchable data, stories, definitions and descriptions. The CD contains information on virtually every person, place, or thing mentioned in the Puranas, a category of secondary Hindu scripture. The complete reference source for students of Vedic and Hindu thought. Introductory price of $9.95. To order, go to "source" above.






Hindus Protest PBS Documentary


Posted on 2002/9/17 9:49:02 ( 1144 reads )


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USA, September 17, 2002: An HPI reader writes, "Dear Hindu Brother/Sister: Namaste. You may have come to know that the Public Broadcasting Service TV channel is airing a documentary on September 19 under its Wide Angle program titled "Soul of India." The program extract on PBS website sounds ominously prejudicial to Hindus. Here is the extract: PBS documentary examines Hindu fundamentalism, program airs Thursday, September 19 at 9 P.M. Eastern Time. "The bloody conflict between Hindus and Muslims in North Western India is at the forefront of a struggle for India's identity, led by an increasingly powerful Hindu fundamentalist movement whose goal is to turn India into a Hindu nation. Over the last three months, some 2,000 Muslims have been killed in the Province of Gujarat, and more than 100,000 Muslims have been forced to flee to refugee camps. Meanwhile extremist Hindu private schools are spreading rapidly across India. Will India, home to more than a billion people, continue to be the multi-ethnic, religiously diverse, secular, and tolerant society that Gujarat's Mahatma Gandhi attempted to create? Or will the nation be split -- by a Hindu fundamentalist movement hoping to rise to power by fanning the winds of religious extremism?" Go to "source" above for more information.






Ancient Hindu Temple Discovered in Indonesia


Posted on 2002/9/17 9:48:02 ( 864 reads )


Source: Deutsche Press - Agentur





WEST JAVA, INDONESIA, September 3, 2002: A Cangkuang villager hunting for termites under a tree discovered a sharp hand-carved stone. Further investigation revealed that the location was the site of an ancient Hindu temple. The site is especially significant as the archeologists are hoping to obtain more information about the Sundanese kingdoms in West Java. Tony Djubiantono, head of West Java's Bandung Archeology Agency says, "Based on a preliminary finding of various remains there are indications that this is a Hindu temple built in the seventh or eighth century." The article says, "Buddhism and Hinduism were Indonesia's first world religions, popular among the first kingdoms of Java until the 14th and 15th centuries when Islam started to gain a greater foothold in the archipelago." Djubiantono further describes the finding of such a temple, "as spectacular and very significant for recovering the missing history of the so-called Tatar Sunda, or Sunda territory."






Tune Into Your Favorite Tamil Drama in America


Posted on 2002/9/17 9:47:02 ( 725 reads )


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USA, September 16, 2002: Tamil music, news and information, the popular serials (soaps) that are enjoyed by the Tamil communities throughout Europe, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia and more are now available 24/7 in the United States. A satellite receiver, dish antenna and a $20 monthly fee will deliver TVI to your television. Browsing through the TVI website, "source" above, will provide you with all the information needed to sign up.






Dolphins Win Survival Battle in Ganges


Posted on 2002/9/16 9:49:02 ( 858 reads )


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PATNA, INDIA, September 4, 2002: Endangered river dolphins are winning a battle for survival in the only sanctuary of its kind in India along a protected stretch of the Ganges river, wildlife officials say. In the last ten years, dolphin numbers have risen to about 100 from 34 in the 60-kilometer-long Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar, said D. N. Chowdhary, a senior professor at Bihar's Bhagalpur University. "This sanctuary has at last proved a safe stretch for river dolphins who are fast becoming extinct in other river systems of the world," Chowdhary said. Of the 40 species of dolphins worldwide, only four are found in fresh water -- in China's Yangtze River, the Amazon river system of South America and the Indus-Ganges river system of South Asia, Chowdhary said. "The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus rivers now account for the majority of the river dolphins. That is why this project is very important," he said. State officials are hoping the dolphin sanctuary, which lies 300 kilometers southeast of Patna, would become a tourist attraction and give locals one more reason to protect the animals.






Is There an American Caste System?


Posted on 2002/9/16 9:48:02 ( 843 reads )


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USA, September 15, 2002: Rajiv Malhotra, prolific contributor to www.sulekha.com, gives a provocative look at castism in America. Malhotra's very long article concludes with the belief that American society has its own caste system. A key difference, he says, is that in India, castism is explicitly codified; whereas in America, social structure by ethnicity or family lineage remains uncodified and subliminal. He concludes with a discussion on Hindu identity. "Media, education and public images of Hinduism are often dominated by negative stereotypes. Hence, most Indians have multiple identities, bringing out the one that works best in a given situation. Post-colonialists have written about a phenomenon called 'brown shame' that was encouraged amongst Indians by the British as a way to dominate Indians. But nobody has brought out the more recent phenomenon that I call 'Hindu shame.' To be openly Hindu is often seen as a matter of shame.... This new Hindu American caste needs to learn from the successes of other American castes (Jewish, Irish, Italian). This is especially important as the population of Indians in America is projected to increase to ten million by 2050, and there shall also be many non-Indians who continue to adopt Hinduism."






Veganism: A Moral Philosophical Practice, Not a Religion, Says Court


Posted on 2002/9/16 9:47:02 ( 785 reads )


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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, September 14, 2002: A California state appellate court ruled Friday that vegans can't sue for religious discrimination. In the nation's first known ruling on the issue, the three-judge Court of Appeal panel in Los Angeles threw out a lawsuit by Jerold Friedman, a vegan, who claimed he was denied a job because he refused a mumps vaccine that was grown in chicken embryos. The 41-page ruling surveyed decades of past cases on religious issues and said a religious creed must address "fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters." The appellate court said veganism does not meet the test, even though Friedman says it shapes his entire way of life and view of the world. Presiding Justice Paul Turner said those beliefs (veganism) do not address "the meaning of human existence; the purpose of life; theories of humankind's nature or its place in the universe; matters of human life and death; or the exercise of faith." HPI adds: It may be that a Hindu vegetarian making a similar case on the basis of Hindu religious beliefs would prevail, as in this case the court appears to have focused on the absence of any formal religious framework for Friedman vegan practice.






Lord Krishna is Dressed Like a King


Posted on 2002/9/16 9:46:02 ( 814 reads )


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JAIPUR, INDIA, September 1, 2002: The expression "fit for a king" comes to mind when it is realized that Lord Krishna has more than 10,000 sets of clothes that the priests of Jaipur's Govind Devji temple can use to adorn the Lord. Anjan Kumar Goswami, the head priest of the temple, says, "Govinda blesses his devotees with darshan (viewing of the Deity) at seven different times in a day and each time he is adorned in a new dress." The article says, "In fact, of the many designer dresses, one is totally made up of glass while another woven with flowers alone. On his birthday, Lord Krishna puts on a saffron yellow dress." During the 15-day festival of Janamashtami devotees numbering anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 daily seek the Lord's blessings.






Bhubaneswar Muslims Celebrate Ganesha Festival


Posted on 2002/9/15 9:49:02 ( 811 reads )


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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, September 12, 2002: Nearly two dozen Muslim businessmen and their families have been performing Ganesha puja for the last 10 years in Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa. They organize the puja by constructing a huge pandal and installing an idol of Lord Ganesha in keeping with Hindu rituals. "We have formed an organization called the 'Jawan Matshya Byabasai Sangha Puja Committee' and all Muslims are its members," the secretary of the committee, Seikh Mustafa, said. He said the members organize the puja for 20 days, with local Hindu families also contributing. "We immerse the idol in the local Kuakhai River after the conclusion of the puja," he added. While they perform the puja according to Hindu rites, they also recite a few lines from the Quran daily, and conduct Islamic prayers for about two hours while immersing the idol, Mustafa said. Though this endeavor has failed to draw much publicity locally, the puja organizers are encouraged by the response from other places. "We have received more than 9,000 messages from all over the world supporting our attempt," said Mustafa. Along these same lines, HPI learned today that one of our correspondents met an Episcopal (Anglican) minister at the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations at the Ganesha temple in Flushing New York. Asked if he was there as part of an interfaith program, the minister replied that no, he was there because he personally loved Lord Ganesha and wanted to observe His birthday.






Restoration Slow at Indonesia's Famed Buddhist-Hindu temples


Posted on 2002/9/15 9:48:02 ( 826 reads )


Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur





YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA September 3, 2002: Restoration work on Yogyakarta's world-famous Buddhist/Hindu temples -- Borobudur and Prambanan -- may take decades to finish given Indonesia's continuing economic crisis, experts say. Some work on Prambanan, 33 kilometers east of Borobudur, was completed in 1990. In 1991 both temples were declared World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The reconstructed portion of Prambanan, an 18-temple compound with three looming enclosed alters dedicated to the Brahma, Vishnu and Siva is only the innermost courtyard of what was a sprawling a complex of 37 acres with some 246 unrestored smaller temples. Although the innermost sanctuary was the most awe-inspiring, it only represents five per cent of what needs to be done to restore the temple to its former grandeur, claimed Indonesian archaeologist Bambang Prasetya, chairman of the restoration group of the Yogjakarta Historical and Archeological Heritage Reserve (SPSP) office. Since 1997, when the Asian economic crisis struck, the government budget for restoration work has dried up, as have grants from UNESCO, and former donor nations such as Japan and the Netherlands.






Texas Program Helps Children Explore Hindu Culture.


Posted on 2002/9/15 9:47:02 ( 774 reads )


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PLANO, TEXAS, September 4, 2002: A circle of 12 parents and children sit cross-legged in a yoga position, begins this report in the Dallas Morning News. They take a deep breath. As they exhale, they say, sonorously, "Ommmmmm." The syllable fades to silence in the conference room at Plano Station, and the circle is still. "Who wants to play tag?" says the teacher, Ashish Chandra. The kids bounce to their feet. Classic Hindu culture and everyday childhood fun: This is Balagokulam, (see "source" above), a free weekly program that helps youth and parents learn about Hindu culture through fables, prayers and games. "We want them to feel comfortable in their culture," says Bindu Patel, a Balagokulam teacher and homemaker. "It's important to learn the facts, especially when you're living in a different environment." "It's a way for kids to play and learn about Hindu religion and culture," says Sandeep Gupta, a software engineer from Richardson who attends the class with his seven-year-old son, Shivam. Gupta says he's glad his son has made friends in the group and hopes he'll feel more comfortable with culturally specific activities, such as taking Indian food for lunch at school after seeing his Balagokulam friends eat it at a temple. Instilling good values. Donations from parents support the chapter in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where about 80,000 Indians live, according to the India Association of North Texas. Most students in Balagokulam moved to the United States within the last 10 years.




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