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Teen Sex and Abortions on the Rise Across India


Posted on 2002/9/28 9:46:02 ( 1011 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 20, 2002: Sexual activity, abortions and deaths from illegal abortions among teens in India is on the rise. Up to 60 million Indian women seek abortions every year. Some 100,000 died last year due to hazardous practices used in embryo removal. Four out of every five who died were 15-19 years old. An overwhelming majority of them were unmarried. "Increased teenage premarital sex has pushed up the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions," gynecologist Dr. Kamini A. Rao said in a press conference in New Delhi. "The reason is that unwed pregnant girls are scared to seek parents' help and are forced to go to quacks who perform unsafe abortions." In the United States, where abortions are legal and sexual information is easily accessible, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recently published birth statistics showing American teen pregnancies fell to a record low in 2001. There were 352,953 births for women, ages 15 to 19 in the United States. The birthrate for teenagers 15-17 years fell 8 percent in 2001, and has dropped 35 percent since 1991. Statistics published by the CDC for 1998 (the most recent data) show that American teens, ages 15 to 19, had 146,377 abortions.






Religious Leaders Appeal for Peace in Gujarat


Posted on 2002/9/27 9:49:02 ( 1884 reads )


Source: ndtv.com





SARANGPUR HANUMAN, GUJARAT, September 27, 2002):Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the head of the Bochanwasi Swaminarayan sect, today made an appeal for peace and compassion in Gujarat. "What happened in Akshardham should not become an excuse for violence. People should maintain the calm and peace and not take the law into their own hands. God will dispense the justice," Pramukh Swami said. It was a busy day for the Pramukh Swami who is currently staying at the sect's training centre for sadhus in the village of Sarangpur Hanuman, three hours from Ahmedabad. Among his first visitors was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. "After such a terrible incident it is my duty to come and pay my respects to Pramukh Swamiji," Modi said. Even before the Chief Ministers had left, a delegation of over 25 Muslim leaders from different parts of Ahmedabad arrived to meet the Pramukh Swami and express their community's outrage over the horrifying incident. "It is unfortunate that our religious leaders are caught between the politicians and the fundamentalist groups and have not appealed for peace. Swamiji has shown the way for this," says a resident of the city. The people of Gujarat, however, appear convinced that despite these appeals violence can only be kept at bay if politicians are willing to absorb the message of peace.






Temple Attacked After 9/11 Breaks Ground for New Building


Posted on 2002/9/27 9:48:02 ( 883 reads )


Source: Hamilton Spectator





HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, September 19, 2002: Before the ruins of a burned-out temple, Hamilton's Hindu community broke new ground yesterday and vowed to rebuild. About 60 people attended a traditional sod-turning ceremony held on the lawn outside the charred Hindu Samaj Temple. "It's a great day," said N. D. (Andy) Patel, the temple's general secretary. "When people hear of the ground-breaking ceremony, they'll say, 'Ah, the temple will be built!' It brings us joy." The Twenty Road temple was gutted in a $600,000 arson last year, just days after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The torching devastated the congregation, which suddenly found itself without a place of worship, and without a center for community and culture. But Patel said that last night's ground-breaking ceremony is a chance for Hamilton Hindus to move forward from the arson. "Everyone will put it behind them now. But there will still be scars," he said. The ceremony, called Bhumi Pooja, is like a ground-breaking but has a religious element. Participants ask the Deities to bless the building project so that everything goes smoothly and so that unity is maintained in the new building.






Bangladesh Sets Budgets for Hindu Trust


Posted on 2002/9/27 9:47:02 ( 1151 reads )


Source: United News of Bangladesh





DHAKA, INDIA, September 18, 2002: The Trustee Board of Hindu Religious Welfare Trust under the Ministry of Religious Affairs has announced a budget of US$378,000 for 2002-2003 fiscal year. The budget was approved at a meeting held here today with State Minister for Religious Affairs and Trustee Board Chairman Mosharef Hossain Shahjahan in the chair. In the budget, $104,000 has been allocated as donation for renovation of monasteries and temples, and destitute while $86,800 for Durga Puja, $3,500 for Saraswati Puja, $52,000 for Dhakeswari Mondir and $1,302 for puja at Langalband. In addition, $15,625 has been earmarked for purchasing land for the office of the Hindu religious welfare trust or construction of building for the trust.






"Being Different Syndrome" Hits Indian Wedding Scene


Posted on 2002/9/27 9:46:02 ( 1017 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





MUMBAI, INDIA, September 18, 2002: Exotic French wines, cheese layered crisp pastas, and crystal chandeliers are finding there way into today's modern Indian Weddings according to this article by Jacinta D'Souza. The Indian wedding, largely a grand affair, with months of painstaking efforts going into drawing up the invitees' list and checking out the best venues in town, is all now passe with professional event managers stepping in to ensure it is an "all fun and no sweat" affair. "The Indian Wedding market has grown four-fold. The purchasing power of the to-be-wed couples has also increased almost four times," according to Preeti Kumar, director of the Mega Wedding show held here recently. More couples are deciding to wed in exotic locales such as inside a palace or near a waterfront or picturesque landscape. Thai and Mexican food are the current favorites for the wedding cuisine. Other trends include; theme weddings, silk flowers, and designer wedding outfits for both bride and groom. The wedding jewelry is also ceasing to be an "all gold affair" as people are buying more diamond sets. The current formula in the wedding market is IVQ--Innovation, Variety and Quality, says event manager Kanwar, though the essence largely remains Indian.






Tallest Hanuman Under Construction


Posted on 2002/9/27 9:45:02 ( 953 reads )


Source: ndtv.com





PARITALA, INDIA, September 22, 2002: The tallest Hanuman statue in the country is coming up at Paritala, 240 km from Hyderabad. By early next year, Lord Hanuman will stand tall here at 135 feet. Work has been in progress at this site for 18 months now. Standing way above the world, this is a marvel in engineering and art. "No one else has built such a big statue. This will be the tallest in the country. I am very enthusiastic about it. In fact, my ambition is to build a statue of 300 feet,'' says John Babu, sculptor, and a Christian. The all-stone Tiruvalluvar Statue at Kanya Kumari is 133 feet. The project is estimated to cost US$163,000 and will be ready for public viewing by January next year.






108 Muslims Return to Hinduism


Posted on 2002/9/27 9:44:02 ( 987 reads )


Source: Deccan Herald





JAIPUR, INDIA, September 22, 2002: As many as 108 Muslim families embraced Hinduism again at a village in Ajmer district of Rajasthan, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesman claimed here on Sunday. The Muslims took a vow in the presence of VHP International general secretary Praveen Togadia to follow Hindu traditions and the way of life at Amba Masania village on Saturday, he said. The families had been following Hindu customs in marriages and other social functions even after their conversion to Islam, the spokesman said. They voluntarily embraced Hinduism again at the function sponsored by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, he said. The function was addressed by Togadia and other leaders of the organization.






Swaminarayan Sect Criticizes Call for General Strike


Posted on 2002/9/26 9:49:02 ( 969 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 26, 2002: The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, whose temple in Gandhinagar was the target of a terrorist strike on Thursday, said that it did not support any bandh, general strike, called over the killings and appealed to the people to maintain peace and unity. "Bandhs only cause economic losses to the country. Even if a bandh has to be organized, it has to be on behalf of all organizations and not separately. Moreover, it should be symbolic for a few hours or half-a-day aimed at paying respects to the deceased," Sadhu Mukund Jiwan Das, head of the Swaminarayan temple in Delhi, said. He was responding to a question on whether the sect supported the Bharat bandh call given by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena. Earlier, scores of Swaminarayan devotees along with activists of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front paid homage to the devotees and security personnel killed in the Akshardham temple attack by maintaining two minutes' silence, singing devotional songs and chanting Swaminarayan mantra. Meanwhile, in his message, head of the Swaminarayan sect Pramukh Swami Maharaj Shastri Narayan Swarupdas has appealed to all the people of Gujarat and the rest of the country to maintain peace and unity "in the wake of this national tragedy."






The Silent Heroes of Akshardham


Posted on 2002/9/26 9:48:02 ( 984 reads )


Source: Rediff





GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 26, 2002: They are the unknown and unsung heroes, the few brave men who made a real difference in containing the massacre at the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat: police officers who crawled into the temple to take on the terrorists in the middle of the night; commandos martyred even as they helped finish off the terrorists; temple volunteers whose quick reactions saved many devotees; and the ascetics who calmed the people and assisted the security forces. The ordinary citizens include Atul, one of the first to spot the terrorists. Instead of running for his life, he alerted the entire compound by intercom, a critical factor in reducing the death toll as other volunteers quickly shut doors throughout the complex. Sanjay Khamar and Sanjay Kulkarni in the face of gunfire locked the doors of the media center with 80 people safely inside. Kordsinh slammed shut the main doors of the temple, getting shot in the process. Security officers believe had Kordsinh not shown the presence of mind to shut the main temple door, the terrorists could have captured many of the devotees inside, leading to a long-drawn hostage crisis. Finally, despite the mayhem all around, the swamis remained calm and kept a vigil over devotees all through the night. The information they provided the police and the paramilitary proved priceless. Brahmavihari Swami and his colleagues briefed state police officers and National Security Guards commandos about the temple layout, using the help of a wooden model of the temple complex. Brigadier Raj Seethapathy, who headed the NSG team at Akshardham, acknowledged that the operation became "very easy" because of the brilliant briefing by the swamis. Tragically, one swami, Parameshwar Swami, was killed in the terrorist attack. He sustained injuries and breathed his last on September 25, when he was evacuated from the complex. His colleagues mourned in silence, and controlling their grief, issued a statement calling for peace, harmony and religious tolerance.






Temples Across India Under Tight Security


Posted on 2002/9/26 9:47:02 ( 839 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 25, 2002: Temples and other places of worship across the country are under tight security following the terrorist attack at the Swaminarayan Temple in Gandhinagar. Keeping in mind the recent riots in Gujarat after the Godhra train massacre, the Army has deployed 3,000 personnel to sensitive areas of Gujarat as a precaution against any problems that may arise. Besides Gujarat, several states, including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, were already on high alert within hours after the attack at Gandhinagar. In New Delhi the Joint Commissioner of Police Satish Chandra said, "Special alert has been sounded all over the city and we are taking all necessary steps." Tight security arrangements had been made in the sprawling Chhatarpur temple complex, the Iskcon temple, the Baha'i temple, Malai Mandir, Laxmi Narayan temple, the Hanuman temples at Connaught Place and Yamuna Bazaar, Gaurish temple in Chandni Chowk and other prominent shrines. Police personnel have also been deployed outside important gurudwaras, churches, mosques, Buddhist monasteries and Jain temples while devotees were being frisked and vehicles checked.






Lord Ganesha Given a Grand Farewell


Posted on 2002/9/26 9:46:02 ( 875 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, September 22, 2002: The entire city came out on the streets on Friday afternoon to bid farewell to Lord Ganesha, and patiently waited until the early hours of Saturday when the last idol was immersed. The procession began after mayor Deepti Chaudhari performed puja (worship) of the first Ganapati exactly at noon at the historic Mahatma Phule Mandai on Friday. The procession, which lasted for 28 hours and 40 minutes, flowed through four major roads; Laxmi Road, Tilak Road, Kumthekar Road and Kelkar Road. All five main Ganapatis were accompanied by cultural pageants organized by various schools. One of the major attractions of the Tilak road procession was a tableau of the Market Yard Ganesha Mandal, which depicted the scene of Ganga coming to Earth. Illuminated chariots of the Dagdu Sheth Halwai Ganapati Trust and the Akhil Mandai Mandal, which are the usual draws every year, made their presence felt this time too. The Akhil Mandai Mandal used 50,000 bulbs to illuminate their chariot.






U.S. Team in Dhaka to Probe Attacks on Hindus


Posted on 2002/9/26 9:45:02 ( 863 reads )


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DHAKA, BANGLADESH, September 25, 2002: A four member United States congressional team is in Dhaka to investigate reports of attacks on Hindus living in Bangladesh. The delegation will submit a report to the International Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress by October 3 in Washington D.C. The team, which arrived here Monday, will meet Hindus who were allegedly tortured in the period following the October elections in which the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance came to power. Leaders of the Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Committee, for Durga Puja celebrations, had reportedly urged members of the Hindu community, Bangladesh's largest minority, to speak out at home and abroad against the atrocities. State Minister for Water Resources Goutam Chakrabarty has accused the Hindu leaders of inciting communal disharmony by asking Hindus to publicize the attacks on them. Chakrabarty told the official BSS news agency: "The remarks of these leaders have annoyed members of the Hindu community. It's a suicidal bid and a conspiracy to destroy communal harmony."






American Desi Makes Miss America Contest


Posted on 2002/9/26 9:44:02 ( 932 reads )


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ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY, September 19, 2002: Considering the beauty business has become such a regular stomping ground for Indians, Bharata Natyam at the Miss America Pageant was bound to happen sooner or later. It arrived in grace in Atlantic City Wednesday night when Shoha Kirti Parekh, 24, performed Bharata Natyam in the talent section of the Miss America pageant before an audience more used to seeing piano recitals, guitar playing or, at the very outside, a Tahitian dance. Parekh, an Indian-American who unexpectedly became Miss Delaware in August this year, showcased her dancing skills in the run-up to the Miss America finale. She missed the top ten in the finale, however.






Pramukh Swami Calls for Restraint in Wake of Temple Attack


Posted on 2002/9/25 9:49:02 ( 1026 reads )


Source: HPI





GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 25, 2002: In response to our urgent inquiry, HPI received the following message from the Swaminarayan Center in Gandhinagar, "We thank you for your concern. You would already know that the incident has ended and the two terrorists have been killed by the army. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has prayed for the souls of the dead and for the speedy recovery of the injured, to all the Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Bhagwan Swaminarayan for giving due strength to the family members to bear with the loss of the innocents killed by the terrorists. He has also sincerely appealed to all devotees and citizens to keep calm in this time of crisis, and not resort to violence. We thank you again for your concern, and are sure you would all have prayed for the souls of the departed and for strength to their family and friends."






US Temples Mourn Gujarat Massacre


Posted on 2002/9/25 9:48:02 ( 901 reads )


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WASHINGTON, DC, September 25, 2002: Hours after the massacre of some 30 devotees in Gujarat, hundreds of disciples gathered for prayers at Swaminarayan temples across the United States, where the group has a wide following, while President Bush and his administration strongly condemned the murderous attack. The most prominent meeting was at the Swaminarayan Sanstha Temple in Edison, New Jersey, where a previously planned prayer meeting with state and local officials turned into a long-distance wake. With dozens of temples across the US, the Swaminarayan Sanstha is the most prominent and non-controversial among Hindu organizations and has had goodwill visits by several public figures, including former President Bill Clinton. US-based devotees say the Swaminarayan complexes here are not only temples but also cultural, spiritual, historical and social centers. More than 300 people gathered at the Beltsville Temple last night in an impromptu prayer meeting as news of the massacre spread among devotees, Kirit Patel, the temple priest said. More prayers are planned for the weekend.




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