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Sabarimala Pilgrimage Season Begins

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:49:02 ( 971 reads )


SABARIMALA, INDIA: November 16, 2002: The Lord Ayyappa temple was opened this afternoon for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage, one of South India's largest religious events. The Melsanthi, A. R. Raman Nampoothiri, opened the sanctum and lit a traditional lamp amid chants of "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa," at 5:30 p.m. The new Melsanthi (chief priest), Perikamana Sankara Narayanan Nampoothiri, of Pinarayi Ganapathibhadram, ascended the holy 18 solid-gold-clad steps when the gates were opened. The installation of Sankara Narayanan Nampoothiri as new Sabarimala Melsanthi was done by the Thantri (priest), Kantaru Mohanaru, later in the evening. The Thantri poured kalasom (holy water) on the new Melsanthi as part of the installation ceremony. Hundreds of devotees thronged the Sannidhanam to witness the ceremony. Additionally, this year the Government and the Travancore Devasthanam Board (TDB) have taken all possible measures for the smooth conduct of the annual festival. Local hospitals will operate around the clock during the two-month-long pilgrimage season. Also, heavy vehicles will not be permitted to Pampa. Passengers must disembark at Nilackal and continue their journey to Pampa. The TDB has also set up temporary stalls at nine points on the Pampa Sannidhanam trekking path to supply medicated drinking water, biscuits, tea and coffee.

Thousands of Women Pilgrimage to the "Ladies' Sabarimala"

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:48:02 ( 912 reads )


KOTTAYAM, INDIA, November 17, 2002: The famous Ponkala celebration, popularly known as "Ladies' Sabarimala," at Chakkulathukavu in Neerattupuram, Kerala, will be held on November 20. At the famous hill shrine of Sabarimala women are not allowed to visit the temple of Lord Ayyappa during the reproductive time of their life. This has led to the rise of a Ladies Sabarimala, where all women offer worship to Lord Ayyappa after observing a 41-day vrata. Thousands of women from all over India, irrespective of their religious beliefs, are expected to attend the rituals.

Expert Says Indian Parliament Needs Vastu Improvements

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:47:02 ( 1215 reads )

Source: Deccan Chronicle

NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 15, 2002: The dome shape of parliament is being blamed for the frequent bedlam that ensues inside the building as well as the large number of internal and external problems the country is facing. Vastu expert Ashwinie Kumar Bansal says the Parliament building is an odd piece of architecture that has been built according to the fancies of foreigners and does not relate to Indian architectural, cultural or Vastu values. Vastu Shastra is the science of temple and building construction for harmony with the forces of nature, man and God. Bansal attributed a host of problems to the British-built Parliament building. These include political instability, the country's partition in 1947, communal disharmony, the terror attack in December, wars, unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. He adds that the building was also bad for those who built it in 1921. After 1921, India faced a series of upheavals that eventually overthrew the British rulers. Bansal, author of 33 books on Vastu and Feng Shui, inspected Parliament twice this year at the invitation of Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi.

Researchers: "Grandmothers are Important to The Family"

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:46:02 ( 923 reads )


NEW YORK, USA, November 5, 2002: The name "Grandma" conjures up varied images for each of us, depending on the personal experience we may have had with this individual in our family. This long and informative article reveals that grandmas have been the objects of many studies around the world. Biologists, anthropologists, sociologists and demographers have focused on grandmothers to understand, "What they did in the past, whether and how they made a difference to their families' welfare, and what they are up to now." Dr. Ruth Mace and Dr. Rebecca Sear, University College Department of Anthropology in London, studied child mortality in rural Gambia from 1950 to 1974. Dr. Mace said, "The surprising result to us was that if the father was alive or dead didn't matter. If the grandmother dies, you notice it, if the father dies, you don't." The study also indicated that it was the maternal grandmother that affected the child's outcome. A similar study done by Dr. Donna Leonetti, an anthropologist at the University of Washington, of two ethnic groups in NE India, one Bengali, the other Khasi revealed, "Khasi women stay in their natal homes and their husbands join them. Ninty-six percent of Khasi children lived to age 6 if their maternal grandmothers were alive, compared with only 83 percent if the grandmother had died. For Bengali women who move to their husband's households, the paternal grandmother has no effect on mortality rates of her grandchildren." A study done by Dr. Harold A. Euler, a professor of psychology at the University of Kassel in Germany, on 700 people who had all four grandparents alive until they were at least seven years of age indicated that 50 percent of the participants cited their maternal grandmother as their favorite grandparent. Dr. Martin Kohli, director of the Research Group on Aging and the Life Course at the Free University of Berlin explains that he finds it logical that the maternal grandmother would be closer to the family. It would be the woman a mother would turn to when she needs help with her children.

Sikh Kids Force Changes in Video Game

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:45:02 ( 1038 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, November 14, 2002: Gaming company Eidos has agreed to remove scenes from the video-game "Hitman 2: Silent Assassin" after Sikh youth complained it was racist and offensive. One of the game's levels is set in a temple and players are asked to "shoot the men in turbans because they are terrorists." Sikhs say the scene looks exactly like the inside of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In 1984, several hundred Sikhs were killed there when Indian troops stormed the temple during Operation Blue Star, a deeply resented attack which led directly to Indira Gandhi's assassination by her own Sikh body guards. Harpreet, 15, from Birmingham, who has seen the game, told BBC's Newsround why he found the game offensive. "This game refers to terrorists in a Gurdwara. This is disgraceful, because people may think that terrorists wear turbans, but they don't." Also many Sikhs believed that to use as the setting for a video game a holy place is disrespectful. The makers have now agreed to change the next edition of the game, remove pictures of the scenes from their website and take steps to correct the game where they can. They have also apologized to the Sikh community, saying that they didn't mean to cause offense.

Religious Respect in The Workplace Takes a New Turn

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:44:02 ( 1261 reads )


LOUISVILLE, USA, November 18, 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, Deepavali or the thousands of other holy days celebrated by other religions. As the workplace has become more diverse, firms have tried to devise ways for their Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Muslim, Jewish or Baha'i employees to take time off to observe their holidays. Most companies, especially large ones, offer what is known as "PTO" days -- personal time off -- that can be used by employees for any reason. This time typically amounts to two to four days per year, and can be used to observe holidays such as Yom Kippur or Deepavali. Pleasanton, California, headquarters of Safeway Inc., a large grocery retailer, distributes "diversity calendars." Each year Safeway passes out calendars that include up to two dozen well-known, as well as more obscure, religious observances each month. In the highly diverse high-tech industry, being respectful of all religious traditions is vital and in that spirit, the Pleasanton-based software firm, Documentum Inc., 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."

Addition: UK Media Use of the Term "Asian" Causes Confusion

Posted on 2002/11/21 8:43:02 ( 1008 reads )

Source: HPI

UNITED KINGDOM, November 21, 2002: In the short summary given November 17 regarding the use of the word "Asian" for all people in UK from the subcontinent, HPI mentioned with regard to the Bradford riots in 2001 that the media's use of "Asian" to describe the rioters implied that both Hindus and Muslims were involved, when only Muslim youth were rioting. Just as importantly, the use of the term obscured the fact that Hindus were the actual victims of the riots. Hindus and their businesses were attacked by the Muslim rioters.

Ayurveda to the Rescue of Chernobyl Victims

Posted on 2002/11/17 8:49:02 ( 966 reads )

Source: Times of India

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, November 7, 2002: Following Russia's recognition of the Ayurvedic System of Medicine, India and Russia will sign a memorandum of understanding setting up Ayurveda's Panchakarma treatment for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This cooperative agreement was announced at the World Ayurveda Congress, held recently in Kochi. Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala of Kerala will provide technical support for the venture. Test treatments had earlier proved that Chernobyl victims responded very well to Panchakarma treatment, said Dr. C. K. Krishnan Nair, member of the Board of Studies in Ayurveda of M. G. University. Dr. Nair pointed out that the U. K., Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, United States and Italy have launched schools of alternative medicine, which were primarily the Indian system of medicine. Additionally the World Health Organization has explored the potential of Ayurveda and found it efficacious in not just curing diseases but also for preserving health.

Meenakshi Temple's Thousand Pillared Hall Renovated

Posted on 2002/11/17 8:48:02 ( 959 reads )

Source: Times of India

MADURAI, INDIA, November 16, 2002: The thousand-pillar hall, a landmark and a tourist attraction which houses a museum at the famous Goddess Meenakshi temple, has been renovated at a cost of US$32,000, temple executive officer P. Baskaran said in a statement here on Saturday. He said the hall would be opened to the public on Sunday. More than 5,000 sculptures, including three-dimensional sculptures of Goddesses and Gods, have been cleaned and renovated. Ancient murthis and the palace articles used by Pandiya and Nayakar kings and queens are also displayed at the museum located in the hall.

Organic Farming Methods Gaining Popularity in India

Posted on 2002/11/17 8:47:02 ( 900 reads )


KOCHI, INDIA, November 11, 2002: Though the concept of organic farming has been catching on in Kerala for some time, absence of an effective market along with chances of corporatism of this sector is presenting a mixed scenario. "The concept is still evolving here," says Dayal, a senior organic farmer and organizer of the Muhamma-based Jaiva Karshaka Samithy. Formed in 1992, the Samithy acts as the first organized platform of organic farmers in the State. Over the last couple of decades, numerous groups as well as individual farmers have entered the organic farming sector, some out of a momentary ecological zeal and some guided by an insight into sustainable farming. While an increased awareness of "healthy food," untainted by chemical fertilizers and pesticides, is spreading among the middle classes, organic products have also begun to find a slot in the international market. Tony Mathew, an activist who runs Elements, a distribution center for organic products, warns of some pitfalls. "Organic farming is becoming more of a technical exercise and not a culture," he says, pointing out the involvement of NGO's as well as that of the government bodies like the Spices Board. Corporate forces are also eyeing the organic farming sector.

UK Media Use of the Term "Asian" Causes Confusion

Posted on 2002/11/17 8:46:02 ( 850 reads )

Source: By Raju Patel, Shakti Marg (a Hindu youth organization)

UNITED KINGDOM, November 5, 2002: In the UK, the term "Asian" is used by the media to lump together all the people from the Indian subcontinent. Ideally, Asian should also refer to Chinese, Malaysians, Arabs, Japanese, Vietnamese and related groups. But that is not so in Britain. "Asian" newspapers, such as Asian Age, Eastern Eye, and Asian Express deal almost exclusively with matters relating to people of the subcontinent. While the author feels it would be difficult to call a newspaper "People of the Indian Subcontinent Express," he states that in Britain it has become accepted that "Asian" mainly means precisely this. This "Asian" formula leaves Hindus short changed, the author believes. An example is the race riots in North England in the summer of 2001. The media proclaimed these as "Asian riots." However those rioting were Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims, not Hindus. Newspaper coverage of the conflicts in India often refer to the "Asian community" and don't accurately represent the Hindu viewpoint. Other areas of note are the differences in culture and ethos among Asians and differences in employment, crime and educational statistics of ethnic minorities in the UK. HPI adds: In the US and Canadian press, "Asian" is a rarely used term, and the term "Asiatic" is regarded as "offensive," according to the Associated Press Stylebook. When "Asian" is used in the US, it would mean Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and related peoples, and not Indians. The people of Asia the Indian subcontinent living in the West are identified in articles by their country of origin -- Chinese-Americans (or Canadians), Indian-Americans, Pakistani-Americans, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, etc.

Exhibition of Hindu Bronzes Opens in Washington D.C.

Posted on 2002/11/17 8:45:02 ( 1135 reads )


WASHINGTON D.C., USA, November 8, 2002: In an exhibit billed as "The Sensuous and the Sacred," the Smithsonian Institution will introduce the American public to Chola bronzes. The show, opening Sunday at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, includes a 28-inch bronze statue of Manikkavachakar, a poet-saint of South India who lived 1,200 years ago. This is the first time an exhibit devoted to Chola bronzes has been assembled in the United States, said guest curator Vidya Dehejia, professor of art history at Columbia University. Icons of Siva, Parvati and other Hindu Gods are included in the statues on display that were made by unknown sculptors during the Chola Dynasty in South India. The Chola kings ruled the southeastern area of India, now known as Tamil Nadu, from 850 to 1300 CE. "For the artist, and also for the viewer, the external beauty of form is almost a condition for inner spiritual beauty," said Vidya. "The two have to go hand in hand." Artists molded the figures in beeswax and surrounded it with clay that took the form of the wax. Heated from outside, the wax melted, was poured out and replaced with molten bronze. A video at the exhibit will show how this "lost wax" process is used today to create works of art in India. Additionally, live demonstrations will be scheduled. After the exhibit closes in Washington on March 9, it will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art, April 4 to June 15, and to the Cleveland Museum of Art, July 6 to September 14. HPI adds: Some Hindus consider the title of this exhibit, "The Sensuous and the Sacred," as an unfortunate description of these bronzes, which are regarded by Hindus as sacred and intended for temples. The title seems intended to increase attendance at the exhibit by implying an element of sexuality not present in the images.

High Court Stays Archeological Survey of India Takeover of Famed Temple

Posted on 2002/11/16 8:49:02 ( 989 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, November 16, 2002: The Madras high court on November 13 stayed implementation of a notification by the Central Government of India, proposing to declare the just renovated Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, one of the country's largest, as a national heritage. Issuing the direction on a petition filed by Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Commissioner M. A. Gowrishankar challenging the October 21 notification by the Archaeological Survey of India, Justice R. Balasubramaniam issued notice to the Union Secretary (Department of Culture and ASI). On November 11, the State government had filed a petition against the notification, declaring the temple as a national monument. In the writ petition, the commissioner had pointed out that an appeal against a scheme drawn up by the high court for management of the temple was pending in the Supreme Court. He said the government had declared Tiruvannamalai as a heritage town in 1993 and introduced guidelines, which led to a controversy over the maintenance of a "girivalam" (park) around the temple and filing of several writ petitions against the GO. He contended that one of the petitioners had sought declaration of the temple as a monument and that the Centre, in its counter-affidavit, had taken the position that it could not be so. The notification was contrary to its earlier stand and a "colorable" exercise of power. It also did not contain any material to enable persons concerned to file objections. It would take away the powers of trustees and other authorities, affecting day-to-day affairs. Seeking to quash the notification, the petitioner had also sought a stay of its operation till disposal of his petition or maintenance of status quo.

Texas Hindus Lay a Foundation for the Future

Posted on 2002/11/16 8:48:02 ( 1112 reads )

Source: The Austin American Statesman

AUSTIN, TEXAS, November 6, 2002: A light rain blessed the day as hundreds of Hindus convened under a mammoth tent in North Austin to bless land in preparation for building a temple. The five-acre field is the future site of the Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir and Cultural Complex for Austin-area Hindus, but particularly important for devotees of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, commonly known as BAPS. The Shilanyas Vidhi, ceremonial laying of the foundation stone, which took place on Saturday, was meant to purify and pay homage to the land before construction. "It takes a lot of sacrifice and giving up a lot of things (to build a temple)," said Dhwipa Patel, a University of Texas senior and an organizer at the ceremony. With Austin's growing Southeast Asian population, local BAPS leaders estimate that there are 600 followers in the area who worship at home or in a rented studio space. BAPS, which emphasizes physical and spiritual purity, was founded in 1801 by Lord Swaminarayan, a guru who ignited a religious movement in India and was worshipped as God incarnate by his followers. The current guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, follows in an unbroken line of succession which began with Lord Swaminarayan. BAPS communities in Texas are close-knit, relying on each other spiritually and financially. In Houston, the headquarters of the Southwest region, a new sanctuary that mirrors the ornate marble structures in India will open in 2004. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to participate in a project like this," said Jayesh Shelat, a Houston volunteer. The plans for the Austin temple and cultural center are still being reviewed and ultimately must receive the blessing of spiritual leaders in India, Sharan Patel said.

Exhibition of Aum Paintings Unveiled

Posted on 2002/11/16 8:47:02 ( 1254 reads )


RAJKOT, INDIA, November 14, 2002: Rudra International Pictures announces "An Exhibition Of Digital Canvas Painting On The Supreme Power AUM." The exhibition will be held November 20-24, 2002, at the Shyamaprasad Art Gallery, Race Course Ground, Rajkot, Gujarat, India. Featured artist Jayesh Kansara says, "As a child, I have fond memories of my parents spiritual inclination. This developed my own interest towards AUM. It is with their blessings and inspiration my earlier paintings of AUM were conceptualized on paper. Later on, I progressed to the highly evocative medium of Digital Art, which is extremely popular in today's Contemporary Art. I believe Digital Art has the power to transgress mindsets and deliver the power of AUM to the viewer. I have metamorphosed Aum visually into many varied themes to the best of my knowledge, understanding and mental capacity. And needless to say, I still remain vastly incomplete." For more information on the artist and exhibition, readers may contact "source" above.

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