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US Embassy in Delhi Withdraws US Marine T-Shirts with Durga Motif

Posted on 2002/10/24 8:48:02 ( 965 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 18, 2002: The VHP is upset with the United States Embassy for ordering T-shirts for its security personnel which portray a caricature of Hindu Goddess Durga with the Taj Mahal in the backdrop. The Embassy had ordered the T-Shirts from a local supplier and upon receiving the shirts with the controversial designs, was quick to confiscate them to avoid ill sentiments. The Goddess had been portrayed with a bottle of liquor in one of Her eight hands, modern weapons and a shield bearing the US emblem in the others. Printed on the T-shirts are the words "Marine Security Guard Detachment -- American Embassy, New Delhi, India." The VHP has demanded an apology, but the embassy apparently is not yet aware of any demand.

Catholics Consider Including Sanskrit in Prayers

Posted on 2002/10/24 8:47:02 ( 931 reads )


PATNA, INDIA, October 21, 2002: Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church said Monday they were considering adding a Sanskrit word to liturgical prayers to make Christianity more acceptable to Hindi speakers. A synod of archbishops and bishops from India and Philippines, which began Sunday in Patina, was studying a proposal to include the word "Sachidanand" in liturgical prayers. B.J. Osta, the archbishop of Patna, stated "The word 'Sachidanand,' meaning the Trinity of Gods, also conforms to the Christian precept of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." In India, Christians generally say prayers in English or in literal translations into local languages. Osta said the church was also considering publishing a Hindi-language magazine and setting up a press to publish liturgical books in Hindi. The three-day meeting was called to find ways to make Christianity more amenable to Hindi-speakers in the wake of increasing criticism of Christian conversion activities in India. HPI adds: The word "sachidanand" or, more properly "Satchidananda" or "Sachchidananda," means literally "Existence-consciousness-bliss," a state which can be experienced in the deepest meditation. One definition is, "A synonym for Parashakti. Lord Siva's Divine Mind and simultaneously the pure superconscious mind of each individual soul. It is perfect love and omniscient, omnipotent consciousness, the fountainhead of all existence, yet containing and permeating all existence. It is also called pure consciousness, pure form, substratum of existence, and more." This Hindu concept has no relationship to the Catholic concept of the Trinity of God.

Ashram Appeals for Rajasthan Drought Assistance

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:49:02 ( 886 reads )


JADAN, INDIA, October 17, 2002: The Sri Vishwa Deep Gurukul Swami Maheshwarananda Ashram Education & Research Center in Jadan, Pali district, Rajasthan is sending a humanitarian appeal on behalf of the people living in the drought areas of Pali, Rajasthan. At present, many parts of India are suffering a severe drought and sufficient rain has not fallen, especially in the Pali district of Rajasthan, for seven years. Due to the lack of rain, there is an extreme shortage of drinking water, particularly in the rural areas and small villages, where both humans and animals have nothing to drink. There is also a lack of fodder for the animals to eat. The ashram's fire-truck has been delivering water to remote village communities since April and has organized some extra tractor-tankers to transport water, but it is still not enough. For information about the drought and how to contribute financially, please visit their website at "source" above.

Japanese Funds to Improve Ajanta-Ellora Caves and Other Monuments in Maharashtra

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:48:02 ( 1159 reads )

Source: Sify.com

MUMBAI, INDIA, October 9, 2002: The Japanese Government has approved funding amounting to US$88 million to further preserve and develop the famous Ajanta-Ellora Caves. Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal says, "They were impressed with the development work at the caves completed under the first phase of the project, which has been completed with the Japan aid. Under the second phase, 13 projects would be undertaken for preservation and development, including Ajanta-Ellora Caves, Daulatabad Forts, Bi Bi Ka Maqbara, Anva temple and Patana Devi temple." The Japanese aid will also be used to improve other monuments in Maharashtra such as Elephanta caves, Junner forts and others, as well as make improvements at Aurangabad airport.

Tirupati Temple Installs World's Largest Solar Cooking System

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:47:02 ( 1002 reads )

Source: The Press Trust of India

HYDERABAD, INDIA, October 1, 2002: The popular Hindu temple, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, has set up a cooking system that is reputed to be the largest solar powered stove in the world. Deepak Gadhia, managing director of Gujarat-based Gadhia Solar Energy System Pvt Ltd which installed the system, says, "The system has been designed to cook 30,000 meals per day with steam generated by solar energy." The Devasthanam expects to save US$35,000 annually by using the energy-efficient design invented by Wolfgang Scheffer of Germany.

Corporal Punishment Still Legal in Tamil Nadu

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:46:02 ( 902 reads )


CHENNAI,INDIA, October 17, 2002: According to this article, some Tamil Nadu Education rules are out of step with reality, including one that deals with corporal punishment. Never mind the campaign against corporal punishment for children in schools, it says, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children. As far as the law is concerned, in Tamil Nadu, corporal punishment is legal by exception. Rule 51 specifies: "Corporal punishment shall not be inflicted, except in a case of moral delinquency such as deliberate lying, obscenity of word or act or flagrant insubordination, and it shall be limited to six cuts on the hand and be administered only by or under the supervision of the headmaster." Therefore, a headmaster can "legally" beat a student by merely quoting the circumstances specified in rule 51. S.S. Rajagopalan, educationalist, asks, "What is the point of introducing progressive methods of teaching as long as ancient/draconian laws exist?" These rules not only reflect scant respect for human rights but hardly seem to have kept in touch with advancements.

Queen Elizabeth ll Worships With Multi-Faith Community on Thanksgiving Day

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:45:02 ( 904 reads )

Source: Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA, October 13, 2002: Since the beginning of this new millennium Queen Elizabeth ll, head of state of the United Kingdom, Canada and 14 other realms, has made several public gestures that support religious faiths in general. Her most recent expression of good will towards the multi-faith community was at a Thanksgiving service on Parliament Hill in Canada's capital city. Representatives from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Aboriginal communities all attended a multi-faith service with the Queen and her husband, Prince Phillip. This was the first time the Queen had worshipped with other religious faiths on Canadian soil. Each year on December 25, the Queen, who considers herself to be a devout Christian, delivers a "Speech from the Throne." In 2001, the Queen said, "We all have something to learn from one another, whatever our faith -- be it Christian or Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh." Ian Bradley, author of a recently published book called "God Save the Queen: The Spiritual Dimension of Monarchy", says, "Her inclusiveness of other religions signals a subtle shift to a broader and more inclusive role as defender of religious faith more generally and focus of loyalty and tolerance within the multi-faith communities that comprise the Commonwealth." This year alone, between June and August in England, Her Majesty visited a Hindu temple, a Jewish museum, an Islamic center and a Sikh congregation. On June 10, the Queen hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for representatives of different faiths." John Aimers, dominion chairman of the Toronto-based Monarchist League of Canada, says, "She is a tolerant person who wants everyone to be comfortable in their faith as she has found comfort and support in hers."

Chennai Couple Spends 15 Years Cleaning and Renovating Temples

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:44:02 ( 994 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, October 20, 2002: First inspired by the words of Adi Sankara, that once upon a time temples were the focal point of village life and that all social activities in a village revolved around the temple, B. Rajesh, his wife Rajani, their family and friends drove to a remote village where they stayed for a week. Their mission was to clean and renovate temples that had fallen prey to neglect and the passage of time. Rajesh, his family and their friends have been cleaning old temples for the last 15 years since hearing about a dilapidated Vishnu temple in Thirumazhisai near Poonamallee. "I still remember how the Vishnu temple looked when I first reached the place," says Rajesh. "We could hardly call it a temple. The face of Lord Vishnu was not visible at all. There were cobwebs everywhere and the whole place looked so dirty! We got all the more inspired to start work, and it went on for several weeks." News of the temple-renovating couple began to spread and they soon received calls from various villages requesting them to rebuild several dilapidated temples. Now, after 15 years of relentless work, they have renovated 50 temples in and around Kancheepuram district, a few kilometers south of Chennai.

Nine days of Navaratri in UK

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:43:02 ( 877 reads )

Source: UK Newsquest Regional Press

UNITED KINGDOM, October 17, 2002: A huge Hindu celebration of the Navaratri Festival took place over the last two weekends at Tolworth Recreation Center. There was dancing, eating, praying and dressing in traditional clothing every evening for nine nights, in keeping with the festival's tradition. The event in Fullers Way North celebrated the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon, Mahishasur. The dancing and music began at 7:30 pm each night and the Mayor of Kingston, Councilor Don Jordan was among the many who enjoyed the festivities. Rhythm Beats were brought in from Gujarat in India to perform the music, with the help of a grant from Kingston Council.

Hindus Protest Plumbing Advertisement

Posted on 2002/10/19 8:49:02 ( 970 reads )


USA, October 18, 2002: American Hindus Against Defamation issued a press release today which reads in part, "Kohler Company, one of the most prominent plumbing supply companies, is using Lord Nataraja (a form of Lord Siva) in the form of a scantly clad woman and taking a shower to hawk its new shower products. The image in the Kohler advertisement appeared in The New York Times on Sunday, October 13, 2002. This image is unmistakably that of Lord Siva as Nataraja. The dancing pose, multiple hands, the hand gestures, the metaphor of water from shower too, resembles the flow of river Ganga (Ganges) usually depicted as flowing through Lord Siva. The tag line for the advertisement, 'There is a Goddess,' clearly indicates that the advertisement is no coincidence; it is an unequivocal indication that the image of Lord Siva was distorted and adopted for the advertisement purpose. AHAD is unhappy by the use of the image of Lord Shiva in such a disrespectful manner. AHAD requests the Hindu community to visit their web site and sign the protest book at 'source' above."

Vegetarian School Lunch Advocates Seek Hindu Endorsements

Posted on 2002/10/19 8:48:02 ( 875 reads )


SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, October 19, 2002: Project Healthy Beginnings, a coalition of parents, health professionals, environmentalists, and animal advocates, are working to pass legislation in the state of California that would provide for plant-centered menu offerings for school lunches. They are seeking Hindus who would be willing to endorse their program and help with their goals of healthful alternatives to the meat based school lunch programs. HPI readers can visit their web site for further information and find how they can help at "source" above.

India Recycles Polluting Fly-Ash for Construction

Posted on 2002/10/19 8:47:02 ( 922 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 16, 2002: To reduce pollution caused by fly-ash generated by the city's thermal power stations, the Delhi state government has asked the Central Public Works Division and Public Works Department to begin using the coal residue as construction material for building nonload bearing structures. The state government has also decided to formulate a policy making it mandatory for all civic and government agencies to use fly-ash in construction and renovation. It was observed that the residue generated at thermal power stations was creating a major environmental hazard, not only causing air pollution, but also contaminating groundwater. The San Marga Iraivan Temple, Hawaii, is the largest modern demonstration of this technology in the world. Dr. Kumar Mehta, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, has advocated the use of fly ash in construction for many years, and was instrumental in the engineering of Iraivan Temple's monolithic concrete and fly-ash composition foundation, and one with decidely impressive load-bearing abilities. Information regarding fly-ash use in Iraivan Temple may be found at "source" above. Readers can contact Dr. Mehta for more technical information at pkmehta@uclink4.berkeley.edu.

Priest School Brings Hope for Jobless

Posted on 2002/10/18 8:49:02 ( 1477 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA October 14, 2002: The Purohit Paathshala on Haritaki Bagan Lane, near Amherst Street, is a unique priest-training school providing hope for the unemployed. During Durga Puja, 40-year-old Narayan Shashtri will be assisting the main purohit of Nayanchand Dutta Street, Sarbojonin Durgotsav. "I will earn $16 and will also bring back clothes, food grains, fruits and sweets for my family," Shashtri said. Founded by the Baidic Pandit-O-Purohit Mahamilan Kendra, the school is a platform for purohits (priests) of the major community of Durga Pujas of the city. Started in April, the first class comprises 35 students who pay a monthly tuition fee of around $1. The students are offered a year's course. They can choose between the comparatively easier pandit bisharad (puja or Deity worship performing mantras) or the one that leads to the pandit ratna (additional mantras for weddings, thread ceremony, funerals, etc.). The final written examination will be conducted in April by a panel of Sanskrit scholars. On completion, students will be offered community and family pujas to perform. Kendra president Netai Chakraborty said that he has written to the Banaras Hindu University and was expecting an affiliation next year in the university's distance learning programs.

Tamil Nadu Renovating Temples Tanks for Water Conservation

Posted on 2002/10/18 8:48:02 ( 340 reads )


CHENNAI,INDIA, October 18, 2002: People in Tamil Nadu are renovating temple tanks in their efforts to conserve water, a very serious problem in a region that is currently trying to procure a supply of water from neighboring Karnataka. The aim is to convert, or rather restore, the temple tanks into catchments for rainwater harvesting. The landscape of Tamil Nadu is dotted with temples, and many of those temples traditionally had tanks that were used for various ceremonies. These also served as natural aquifers and helped recharge neighborhood groundwater. But over the years many have gone out of use and overflowing mounds of silt and garbage have replaced the water these tanks once contained. The drive began with the Parthasarathy and Kapaleewswaran temples in Chennai. The roads and highways department is also involved and is studying the feasibility of diverting rainwater from the storm-water drains on the state and national highways and major road networks into the temple tanks.

Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime

Posted on 2002/10/18 8:47:02 ( 1025 reads )


USA, October 18, 2002: Veena Oldenburg's book is a provocative view on the history of dowry in India that takes a fresh look at this controversial custom. The Hindu practice of dowry has long been blamed for the murder of wives and female infants in India. Oldenburg argues that these killings are neither about dowry nor reflective of an Indian culture or caste system that encourages violence against women. Rather, such killings can be traced directly to the influences of the British colonial era. In the precolonial period, dowry was an institution managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have recourse in an emergency. As a consequence of the massive economic and societal upheaval brought on by British rule, women's entitlements to the resources obtained from land were erased and their control of the system diminished, ultimately resulting in a devaluing of their very lives. Combining rigorous research with impassioned analysis and a nuanced treatment of a complex, deeply controversial subject, this book critiques colonialism while holding a mirror to gender discrimination in modern India. If readers are interested in a new look at the dowry debate, the book is available at Amazon.com, "source," above.

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