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Khaleda Promises to Protect Bangladesh Durga Puja Festivities
Posted on 2001/10/17 22:49:02 ( 842 reads )


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DHAKA, PAKISTAN, October 17, 2001: Prime Minister Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh has said that personnel of the Bangladesh Rifles will be deployed if necessary to ensure that the Hindu community's biggest festival, Durga Puja, which begins next week, passes off peacefully. Khaleda's instruction came in the wake of the reported vandalism of Durga Puja venues and attacks on Hindus and their property across the country. The festival organizers had earlier resolved to celebrate Durga Puja in a subdued manner to protest against the atrocities on Hindus before and after the October 1 general election, which Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies won. Most Hindus traditionally support the BNP's rival, the Awami League.




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Dance Tribute to Tragedy Victims
Posted on 2001/10/17 22:48:02 ( 672 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, October 10, 2001: To pay homage to the heroes and the victims of the World Trade Center attack, Battery Dance Company dancer Tadej Brdnik performed a hauntingly beautiful dance piece for the passers-by at the busy Franklin Street Triangle subway stop. From 8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., the tall, striking Slovenian with cropped blond hair and searching eyes danced barefoot in a white silk suit. Brdnik swayed gracefully through the chilly morning air to an original piece of Indian music composed by Samir Chatterjee. Jonathan Hollander, who started the Battery Dance Company, an international dance troupe representing nine different nationalities, in 1976, said the members of the company decided a week ago to "recognize what had happened and commemorate the situation by doing what we do." The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center forced Battery Dance Company to cancel several fundraising events scheduled for September. "The fragility of organizations like ours isn't in people's focus," Hollander said. "This tribute was a way to show ourselves that we will go on."




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7,000-Year-Old Temple in Malleswaram
Posted on 2001/10/17 22:47:02 ( 2302 reads )


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MALLESWARAM, INDIA, October 15, 2001: The ancient Nandeeshwara Temple at Malleswaram 17th cross was discovered only three years ago, but it has stood for 7,000 years. According to residents nearby, the temple was completely buried under a flat parcel of land. Three years ago when a politician tried to sell the plot, people requested that the land should first be dug through to see if they could find something. When they began digging up the land, they found the temple buried underneath, in perfect condition, preserved by the thick layers of soil. The temple was enclosed within a stone courtyard. At the far end of the courtyard, a black stone Nandi dispensed water from its mouth directly on to a Siva Lingam made out of the same black stone. Steps led to a small pool in the center of the courtyard where the water collected. The center of the pool had a 15-foot deep whirlpool. Everything remains the same today. Nobody knows where the water comes from and how it passes from the mouth of the Nandi to the Siva Lingam. Nobody knows how the whirlpool came into being. The source of water, the sculptor, even the time when it was built remains a mystery.




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VHP Enters Ayodhya Sanctum Sanctorum
Posted on 2001/10/17 22:46:02 ( 695 reads )


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LUCKNOW, INDIA, October 18, 2001: Around 200 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists, led by president Ashok Singhal, entered illegally into the sanctum sanctorum of Ram Janambhoomi in Ayodhya on Wednesday. They worshiped the small Rama icon place there, distributed blessed food and hoisted a saffron flag while the security personnel watched. Police later downplayed the symbolic incident. No arrests were made as local officials could not determine if any law had been broken.




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Government: Bangladesh Hindu Attacks "Exaggerated"
Posted on 2001/10/16 22:49:02 ( 667 reads )


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DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 15, 2001: The new Home Minister of Bangladesh, Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, has dismissed as "exaggerated" reports of attacks on religious minorities after the general election two weeks ago, saying he had personally visited some of the areas from where such reports had come, but found them baseless. Mr. Chowdhury called the news conference to explain the situation following a decision by the leaders of the Hindu community to cancel celebrations for a major festival to protest the attacks on them. However, the local Government Minister and Secretary General of the the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, admitted there was some truth in the reports, but claimed many of the reports were politically motivated and conspiratorial.




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Temples Relocated to Prevent Traffic Buildup
Posted on 2001/10/16 22:48:02 ( 610 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, October 7, 2001: In collaboration with the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, two temples' managing committees have agreed to relocate their place of worship. Seetharama Anjaneya Temple at Tolichoki and a temple on the banks of the Musi River have been moved. When places of worship start to interrupt the flow of traffic, which also meant exhaust fumes had become intense inside the temple, the MCH started its program for relocation. So far only the two temples mentioned have responded positively. However, there are at least one hundred more that impede traffic. Some of these shrines were deliberately started by anti-social elements in order to secure government land for a parking lot next to their business. Any new structures started haphazardly in the name of religion on government land for selfish goals are being demolished immediately by the MCH.




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Religious Ministers Aid Local Police
Posted on 2001/10/16 22:47:02 ( 651 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





USA, October 17, 2001: In October 1978, James Jones got a phone call informing him that his 22-year-old son had been killed in a car accident. "I knew at the time that a phone call was just not the way to deal with a death notification," said Jones, 65, now sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama. It wasn't until March 1995, after the county had had 12 automobile accidents and six suicides in one month, that Jones realized changes had to be made in their method of death notification. In June 1995 he started the Shelby County Law Enforcement Chaplain Program, according to the Birmingham, Ala., Post-Herald. This program has a trained chaplain accompanying a deputy to inform family members of a death, delivering the news promptly and with compassion. Mac Stinson, a retired United Methodist minister who oversees the program, said it has grown since 1995 to also include spiritual guidance for officers and their families. "If a minister has a heart for law enforcement, then he or she contacts us," said Stinson. "We do not recruit them." Such programs are open to members of all faiths, and Hindus trained in ministry and personal counseling can apply for them. To be a chaplain, ministers must go through training to become members of a group called the International Conference of Police Chaplains. Their duties include assisting deputies in handling calls involving highway fatalities, on-the-job deaths, natural disasters and school accidents. They also help personnel of fire and rescue -- they see a lot of deaths, and the chaplains help them "get back behind the wheel." Jones added, "I don't know how law enforcement can survive without a chaplain program."




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Call for Divali Articles
Posted on 2001/10/16 22:46:02 ( 860 reads )


Source: www.indiannewslink.co.nz





NEW ZEALAND, October 17, 2001: Indiana Publications Limited, publishers of the "Indian Newslink," seek articles on a contribution basis for their 32-page Divali supplement. The deadline is Monday 22nd October.




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Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji): Understanding the Lessons of September 11
Posted on 2001/10/16 22:45:02 ( 726 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today





PARMATH NIKETAN, RISHIKESH, INDIA, October 17, 2001: (Note: this longer-than-normal article for HPI is one of the best messages we have received from Hindu religious leaders on the events of September 11. It may be freely reprinted.)

September 11 was a tragic day of unprecedented proportion. Never before in the history of the world had one group so blatantly, so callously, so mercilessly struck at so many thousands of innocent people.

We were in Munich, Germany on the Vishwa Dharma Prasaar Yatra, travelling first to the Caribbean, then to USA and Canada, then to UK and then to Europe, spreading the messages of peace, unity and Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, that "The whole world is one family." In the midst of this yatra, we heard the shattering news. Times like this and acts like these almost render us speechless with sadness. It is only after the sand has settled back on the beach after the storm, that we can bend down and examine the pieces of that which was crushed in the tempest.

Those who engage in these unforgivable acts of terrorism, intimidation and violence claim that they are fighting a jihad, a holy war. However, the term "holy war" is itself an oxymoron, a paradoxical fallacy. A war can never be holy. Only peace is holy. That which is holy is peaceful, loving, pious and compassionate. War, by its very definition, is none of these. The terrorists claim they are fighting a war in the name of God. However, there is no such thing. War -- especially those acts which kill innocent people -- cannot possibly be undertaken with God's consent or to win His favor. How can we -- in God's name -- kill His children, His creation? Could you possibly kill your sister or your brother and claim you did it for your mother or father's sake? Or that you did it in order to win your parents' appreciation? This would be absurd.

Rather than fighting a true "holy" war, the terrorists are using God's name in order to justify their own evil, violence and aggression. To me, the true jihad is a holy war within ourselves, a war against that which is unholy within our own hearts, a war of annihilating our own egos, our own jealousies and grudges.

However, simply condemning the acts is not enough. That which happens must happen for a reason. That which happens must have a lesson inherent within it. Let us then look at what we can learn, what reassurance we can gain from this tragic event. What can we take from this which will both help us grow individually as people as well as help us grow as nations and as a world?

To me, one of the most important lessons here is one of safety, one of comfort, one of complacency. So many people throughout the world (especially those living in India, or Indians who live abroad) think of everything Western as superior, as inherently "safe." If you give someone a gift and say it's "from America," their eyes will widen with anticipation. If you tell someone that a particular object you own is "from America," that automatically grants it "First Class" status. The idea of sending our children "to America" for studies or work is one that fills us with great pride, comfort and security. It is every parent's dream to send their children "to America," and it is every child's dream to go. It is not only that parents think their children will have a higher income in America. Rather, there is an inherent yet almost tangible feeling of safety, security and superiority about everything Western.

Additionally, from what I have seen, people living in America have a very deep sense of safety, security and invincibility. There is a sense -- taught since childhood -- that living under the umbrella of the American flag will guarantee not only material prosperity, but also personal comfort and safety. And, I am not condemning this feeling. I, personally, love America and love Americans for their great openness, great honesty, eagerness and steadfastness on the path to God. And, in many ways, this feeling of security regarding the country is not misplaced. The West achieves standards of excellence which are unsurpassed anywhere else in the world. The education and professional fields are peerless.

However, none of us, regardless of where we live, regardless of where we work, regardless of where we have attained our education, is invincible and invulnerable. It is only by the grace of God that we wake from our sleep each day. It is only by the grace of God that each of the billions of neurons in our brain continue to function properly, allowing us to breathe and our hearts to beat. It is only by the grace of God that our legs move when we think "move" and that our ears can process the sounds we hear. It is only by His grace that the thousands and thousands of blood vessels in our body, continue to carry blood safely to and from the heart, without rupturing along the way.

We must take this opportunity -- as tragically given as it is -- to turn back to God, for He is the only true protector. No insurance policy could have protected those thousands of poor, innocent people working in the high reaches of the World Trade Center on September 11. No matter how good the policy or how high the premium, once that tragic moment came it was only a matter of them and God. It is only our Divine Insurance Policy in whom we can have total trust. It is only the Divine Insurance Policy who truly renders us safe and protected. Thus, let us turn back to Him and realize that we are simply in His hands and that it is only by His will and His grace that we continue to exist and to prosper.

The tragedy struck the top CEOs as quickly and mercilessly as it struck the mail deliverers and window washers. It struck those living in the posh suburbs of Long Island as ruthlessly as it struck those sharing cramped apartments in Soho. This does not mean, of course, that there is no benefit to advanced degrees or good jobs. I always advise my youth to study hard so they will succeed. However, it means that we must see these achievements for what they can really give us -- comfort, ease and the ability to perform up to our potential. However, they cannot provide us with safety, security or immortality. It is only by turning to Him, by dedicating our hearts and our lives to Him, regardless of our profession, that we are truly safe and truly secure, not just our bodies, but our souls.

Today, the big issue is whether America should go to war, whether and how we should avenge the lives which were so mercilessly taken in this atrocious act. Yes, the perpetrators should be punished. Yes, they should be brought to justice in whatever way possible. Yes, we must show the world that these sorts of crimes will not be tolerated. However, is war the answer? Is dropping bombs on a country full of innocent, impoverished people the answer? Do we need to sacrifice more innocent lives in order to avenge the death of innocents? Will an "eye for an eye" make us a better world, or will it make us all blind?

Whatever action the US government decides to take, I pray that it will be action in the name of compassion, action in the name of a better, peaceful future, action done after great thought and deliberation. I pray that there will be no more acts of impulsiveness, no more acts of vengeance, no more acts in which innocent lives are senselessly taken.

The violence perpetrated against New York and Washington, as well as the innumerable acts of terrorism throughout history, are acts of ignorance and hatred. They are acts of people who are trained to think of "us versus them." They are acts of those who are taught to see people according to color, religion and nationality. These are all veils of ignorance, veils of illusion. The solution cannot be to continue fighting from behind borders and beneath banners of religion, nationality, color or creed. The solution can only come by breaking these borders, by breaking these boundaries and by throwing away these banners.

The answer cannot come by the civilized, educated, peaceful nations of the world lowering themselves to the level of the ignorant. Rather, the wise ones must educate the others. We must continue to spread the messages of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, "The whole world is one family." We must continue to pray Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayah, sarve bhadrani pash-yantu, ma kashchid dukhabhagbhavet -- "May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all see the divinity in everything. May there be no unhappiness or sorrow." For, if we, too, start to pray only Hindavah bhavantu sukhinah, Hindavah santu niramayah -- "May Hindus be happy, may Hindus be healthy;" Americaha bhavantu sukhinah, Americaha santu niramayaha -- "May Americans be happy, may Americans be healthy;" then we will fall into the same well of despair as those who committed these horrendous acts.

Lastly, God has given us an important lesson in this tragedy: life is so short. We don't know when or how our end will come. Every moment is a gift. No matter how high we build our towers of prosperity, we never know when they can come crashing down. Therefore, why not live peacefully, why not live every moment in love, in harmony, in joy? Who knows if this moment will be our last?

Let us take a new pledge, in the fertile ground of the rubble. Let us vow to live our lives as precious gifts, to come together as sister and brother, to forgive and forget our grievances and our grudges, and to join hands together in rebuilding the towers. But let these new towers be not only towers of trade and towers of wealth, but let them be towers of love, towers of unity, towers of brotherhood, towers of peace. Let these new, divine towers reach unprecedented heights, soaring toward the Divine, Infinite Abode of the Lord.

We, on the holy banks of Mother Ganga, in the lap of the sacred Himalayas, offer our deepest prayers that the departed souls may rest in peace, and that those who are shattered, broken and bereaved by this tragedy may find solace and serenity. Lastly, we pray for those who have committed this atrocious act and for all those who have plans or desires to commit a similar act -- we pray that God may bestow wisdom and compassion upon them, so that they can see the folly of their ways and transform themselves. We pray for peace to the Heavens, peace to the Earth, peace to all the humans, all the animals, all the plants and peace for every being in the universe. Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti -- Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

(note: the < p > notes paragraph divisions)




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Violence Continues in Bangladesh
Posted on 2001/10/13 22:49:02 ( 634 reads )


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DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 13, 2001: Various newspaper reports continue to be sent to HPI regarding post-election violence against Hindus in Bangladesh. According to these reports, at least 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 others injured in the recent spate of terrorism following the electoral victory of the BNP-led four-party alliance. BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's repeated appeal to party workers to exercise maximum restraint and not to victimize their opponents appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Reports are available at www.dailystarnews.com, www.bangladesh-web.com/news/oct/13/nv4n716.htm#A5 and www.hrcbm.org/news/janakant_news.html




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Afghan Crisis Causes Dry Fruit Shortage at Indian Temples
Posted on 2001/10/13 22:48:02 ( 733 reads )


Source: India Today's Aajtak Hindi TV channel





JAMMU, INDIA, October 14, 2001: Jammu Correspondent of Aajtak Channel interviewed Jyoti Gupta, secretary of Dry Fruit Traders Association of Jammu who said that due to non-arrival of dry fruit items from Afghanistan after the war has begun there is acute shortage of many dryfruit items. The devotees visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine are buying these dry fruits as prasad (food offered to and blessed by the Deity) in lesser quantity than during normalcy in the past at this point of time. Traders are selling their stock at a high price as the supply is not forthcoming. Gupta said that the situation will worsen if the supply does not return to normal, and the prices are likely to go up in the near future. Some of the items used for prasad are already up by 50 percent, the story said.




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New Krishna Book Announced
Posted on 2001/10/13 22:47:02 ( 637 reads )


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October 14, 2001: The full calendar of Krishna's festivals culminating in the joyful riot of color that is Holi, are mirrored in this book, available from "source" above. The stories of Krishna are well known, but they are not retold here, neither is the book a scholastic commentary. Celebrating Krishna is thus a different story told at the beginning of the 21st century. What does Krishna and his lila in Vraja mean in the first years of a new millennium? Illustrated with rich color photographs, the Vraja experience of the book will be cherished by it's recipients for years to come.




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Vivekananda Festival Held at Harrow, England
Posted on 2001/10/13 22:46:02 ( 732 reads )


Source: Press Release





HARROW, ENGLAND, October 14, 2001: Jai Prakash Lakhani of the Vivekananda Centre, UK, reports on the Vivekanananda Festival held at Harrow Civic Centre yesterday, "We had quite a few politicians present, including the local Member of Parliament and the local Member of the European parliament as well as many local councillors and the Mayors of Harrow and Brent. Our youngsters performed a short play called 'Gospel of Vivekananda.' The final lines of the play said, 'This Gospel is still an unfolding story and remains unfinished. In days to come it will be written in such 'glorious terms that mankind will know for certain that it is one with God.' The councillor suggested that from now on a day in October will be designated as 'Vivekananda day' in Harrow."




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Call for Divali Articles
Posted on 2001/10/13 22:45:02 ( 764 reads )


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TRINIDAD, October 14, 2001: The Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council (ICC) is inviting writers to submit their work for publication in its Divali 2001 souvenir magazine. Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, will be observed with a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago on November 14, 2001. Writers who wish to express themselves on socio-political issues, current events, or other topics particularly relevant to Hindus in Trinidad are asked to submit their material in the form of articles, reviews, short stories and poems. In keeping with the proclamation of the year 2001 by the United Nations, the theme of the magazine is "Dialogue among Civilizations." The deadline for submission of original articles not exceeding 1,000 words is October 31. E-mail Kumar Mahabir, editor, at "source" above.




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Japanese and Others Buying up Afghan Buddhists Relics
Posted on 2001/10/12 22:49:02 ( 644 reads )


Source: Straits Times, Singapore





TOKYO, JAPAN, October 4, 2001: Japanese collectors were among the major purchasers of Buddhist images and fragments believed to have been stolen from the world-famous collections of Buddhist relics in Afghanistan and smuggled into Pakistan. Many Afghan refugees fleeing the country carry with them Buddhist figurines, parts of Buddhist reliefs or rock pieces they claim were from the remains of the two gigantic rock-hewn Buddhas in Bamiyan which were destroyed by the Taleban in March. The relics were smuggled into Pakistan by the Afghan refugees. Local police in Peshawar and elsewhere in Pakistan appear at a loss as to how to clamp down on the situation because of the large number of brokers of the smuggled artifacts. Small Buddha images were sold for more than US$420 each, and larger ones fetched more than US$500. Brokers said that those who purchased the smuggled Buddhist artifacts were mostly from Japan, Britain, the United States and Germany.




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