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Blast at Durga Puja in Assam Leaves Four Dead


Posted on 2002/10/16 8:49:02 ( 892 reads )


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GUWAHATI, INDIA, Monday, October 14, 2002: Four people were killed and 18 others injured, some seriously, in two separate attacks on Durga Puja pandals by militants in lower Assam's Bongaigaon district last night. Pandals are temporary festival roadside temples, often quite elaborate. Extremists hurled hand grenades at two puja pandals in Bongaigaon town and nearby Satipur, killing four people. Fourteen of the injured were admitted to local hospitals, while the identity of the extremists has not been ascertained. Last year, also during Durga Puja, militants attacked a puja pandal in Dhubri district exploding a bomb. Three people were killed and seven others injured besides completely destroying the image of the Goddess.






Students Start Eco-Visarjana Campaign


Posted on 2002/10/16 8:48:02 ( 933 reads )


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NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 13, 2002: Students are getting involved in halting the practice of immersing icons made from plaster of paris into the Yamuna River. During the festive season many icons, painted with lead-paint or made with insoluble man-made materials, are immersed in the river adding to the existing pollution. Said Gunjan Doogar of Development Alternatives, "To create awareness about how to celebrate our festivals in an eco friendly way, we have started an eco-Visarjana campaign." The organization is encouraging the use of natural clay and colors made from haldi, chandan, kesar, kumkum and mehendi.






Durban to Host Conference on Lord Hanuman


Posted on 2002/10/16 8:47:02 ( 959 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 13, 2002: Close on the heels of the recently concluded 18th International Ramayan Conference, Durban, South Africa, will host an International Conference on Lord Hanuman, announced Lallan Prasad Vyas, International Ramayan Conference Secretary General. The Divine Life Society, Ramakrishna Mission of South Africa and Vishwa Sahitya Sanskriti Sansthan will jointly organize the three-day International Conference on Hanuman, scheduled to begin on April 18. Giving details of the 18th Ramayana Conference at the University of Durban-Westville Hindu Center, Vyas said this was the first such conference held on the African continent. Vyas, who inaugurated the earlier three-day conference, said it was well attended with delegates from India, US, UK, Mauritius, Thailand, Surinam, Guyana, Japan, France and Sri Lanka. "A high point of the conference was the conferment of the 'International Ramayan Conference Human Solidarity Award' on former South African President Nelson Mandela, sending out a strong message that not only the great anti-apartheid leader had been honored but also the fact that a common thread of unity ran through all religions, races and castes."






Laughter Clubs Popular in India


Posted on 2002/10/16 8:46:02 ( 906 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, October 5, 2002: Starting the day with a good laugh sounds like a wonderful way to begin each day on a positive note. If you feel this way, then perhaps you should look into joining a laughing club. Laughing clubs are very popular in India where more than 80,000 people participate in 800 clubs. In 1995 Doctor Madan Kataria began them because she wanted people to experience "the positive effects of laughter on physical and psychological well being". A 20-minute session at a Bombay laughing club begins with deep breathing exercises followed by a warm-up exercise, called Ho Ha and progresses through the following laughter stages -- the greeting laughter followed by the two meter laughter, the silent laughter, the swing laughter, the ego crushing laughter and ending with the hearty laughter. One of the participants, Prabha Kapur, says "The sessions have made me more sociable and enabled me to let go of emotions like pride and anger. Now, whenever a child at home makes a mistake, I say let it be." Elsewhere in the world, more than 300 laughter clubs have sprung up in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Singapore and the United States. In Vancouver, Canada, Lucinda Flavelle, certified laughter leader, has been successful in using laughter techniques in her work with seniors. Flavelle says, "They thought it was a riot. It's something you can do with people no matter what their physical condition."






Sixties Leader Ram Dass Honored


Posted on 2002/10/16 8:45:02 ( 1006 reads )


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RHINEBECK, NEW YORK, October 5, 2002: Ram Dass, recognized as a New Age figurehead, was honored in Upstate New York recently where a library at the Omega Institute, a New Age retreat, was named for him. Ram Dass, formerly known as Richard Alpert, a Harvard professor fired for his experiments with LSD, met his guru in the 1960's in the Himalayan foothills. His guru, Shri Neem Karoli, initiated him as Ram Dass, meaning servant of God. After spending two years with his guru, Ram Dass returned home to America to spread Hindu teachings on compassion, meditation and dharma. He became famous in 1971 with the release of a bestselling book called "Be Here Now." American counterculture was attracted to Ram Dass who explored higher consciousness by meditation and mind-altering drugs. During the next twenty years, Ram Dass became a leader in many New Age communities before finally settling in Northern California. He spearheaded various humanitarian projects such as the Prison Ashram Project and the Hospice Dying Project. In 1997, Ram Dass suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed. As a result of the stroke, which Ram Dass termed a spiritual wake-up call from his ascended guru, he has written a new book called "Still Here," a "how-to on soul consciousness in the face of aging and ill health". Kathleen Murphy, who was present at the Omega event, says, "He's helped existence make sense for me. Beauty and love pour out of him and the people associated with him." In an interview Dass says, "Reincarnation applies to all people everywhere, whether they accept if or not. There are people who want to use the name guru for me. When I hear that, I feel they just haven't seen a real one."






Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Responds to Critics of Anti-Conversion Ordinance


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:49:02 ( 349 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, October 11, 2002: The anti-conversion ordinance is "not directed against any particular religion, least of all any minority religion," the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, has said. In a statement, she clarified that it was "directed against the use of fraudulent means, allurement and force in enticing individuals into changing their religious denomination against their will." Ms. Jayalalitha reasoned that the ordinance "clearly recognizes and provides for action to be taken to arrest a disturbing trend found in various parts of Tamil Nadu, as reported and documented, where inducements, monetary and material, fraudulent and clandestine, have been adopted by some persons and institutions to convert people to another religion, capitalizing on their poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. The State has a duty cast upon it to make laws to protect its citizens against exploitation by such unscrupulous elements." Even the Supreme Court, in its 1977 ruling in the Stanislaus vs. State of Madhya Pradesh case, held that the right to propagate one's religion (by advocacy or preaching) did not include the right to convert another. In doing so, the Court upheld a similar ordinance against conversion in Madhya Pradesh. In a report appearing in the Times of India, the Catholic Bishops' Conference denied the church was indulging in forced conversions. Spokesperson Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao said, "Anyone willing to become a Christian has to undergo preparations of six months before he is recommended." However, he also stated that the church gives scholarships and other benefits, and wondered whether these can be considered as inducements for conversion. A report in The Hindu stated that the BJP political party welcomed the ordinance, charging that the involvement of foreigners and foreign funds for conversion had been damaging the fabric of society.






Survey Looks at American Religious Beliefs


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:48:02 ( 893 reads )


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UNITED STATES, October 10, 2002: In a new survey of American religious beliefs, conducted by the conservative Christian Barna Research Group, 44 percent of those surveyed said, "The Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths," while 38 percent of Americans disagreed with that idea. George Barna, president of the Ventura, California, based marketing research company, apparently alarmed at the results, said he thinks the results reflect an increasing inclusivity about faith among many Americans. "Christians have increasingly been adopting spiritual views that come from Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, the Eastern religions and other sources," he said in a statement. "Because we remain a largely Bible illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism -- a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives."






Residents and Temple Authorities in Conflict


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:47:02 ( 940 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 6, 2002: Residents of the Kailash area of Delhi have been caught up in an ongoing debate with the Sanatan Dharam Mandir. Anju Sehgal Gupta, a resident who was recently threatened by 40 temple sympathizers said, "The character of the temple has changed and authorities treat it more like a three-star hotel. Parties are hosted, as the covered area is large. There is a five-story building, a four-story building and a sammelan hall." Rajnish Goenka, the temple's president, responded, "No ... commercial activity has taken place since 1998 when the unauthorized portions were sealed. The functions are well within the Hindu rituals, like marriages." The 100 families, who live on the same lane as Anju Gupta, have taken their complaints to court. Objecting to the loud music at night and the generators, which provide uninterrupted power for the parties, the residents have made their case known to police. Goenka denies that loud Western music has been played. Sneh Mahajan, another resident who teaches history at IP College says, "The continuous tug-of-war between the temple authorities and the residents has robbed us of our privacy and thefts have been reported whenever marriages take place in the temple, as a lot of outsiders roam around the area." Temple expansion without benefit of zoning approval is a common problem through India's urban areas.






Courting Kurta Fashion


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:46:02 ( 1039 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 11, 2001: A fashion conscious woman asks, "What are the various lengths that I can try out in a kurta?" Femina (a women's magazines) responds, "This really depends on two primary factors: Your body type and the occasion. Kurta lengths today vary between hip length (the kurta shirt) to just-below-the-knee. On formal occasions, one should wear longer lengths, whereas casual and semi-formal dressing allows for shorter lengths to be worn over pants and jeans." When questioned about jewelry, it's suggested adding antique buttons or cufflinks to add interest. Wondering about embroidery? Go for tone on tone embroidery and experiment more with fabrics and Oriental accessories. If you want to dress up a kurta you can add a Nehru jacket or simply add another layer in the form of a separate garment to give it a dressier feel. But your best bet is an attitude to wear Indian and feel absolutely great."






English Council Tackles Fireworks' Noise


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:45:02 ( 998 reads )


Source: UK Newsquest Regional Press





BRENT, ENGLAND, October 11, 2002: The Brent, England, City Council is taking action to tackle the nuisance of noisy fireworks. In the days leading up to Deepavali, November 4, the city council has launched a campaign to persuade revelers to be more considerate of their neighbors. Under the slogan, "Fireworks with a bang, but not too late or loud," the council has issued a request encouraging responsible fireworks use. This includes not lighting fireworks after 11:00 pm, having displays as far as possible from neighbors' homes, warning neighbors in advance, and keeping fireworks displays as short as possible. The problem is heightened because for at least a week before and after Deepavali, fireworks are let off.






Ramayana Center in Mauritius


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:44:02 ( 1921 reads )


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ROSE BELLE, MAURITIUS, August 15, 2002: On Tulsi Jayanti day, the foundation stone laying ceremony of Ramayana Center was performed by the Mauritian Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth. Prime Minister Jugnauth hailed the building as an historic event. Mauritius is the only country of the Indian diaspora that has built a Ramayana Center in its National Assembly. The chairman of the Center and noted Ramayana scholar, Rajendra Arun, said the institution would be developed as a learning center to promote teachings of Ramayana, a constant source of inspiration and strength to the Indian diaspora. Additionally, a fifty-foot statue of Hanuman will be erected. In a congratulatory message, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee commended this effort and praised Mauritius for having preserved the legacy of the Ramayana for succeeding generations. Swami Krishna Roopan, Ramakrishna Mission, and Swami Pranavanand, Chinmaya Mission, also blessed the gathering.






International Yoga Convention Planned for Miami


Posted on 2002/10/15 8:43:02 ( 1012 reads )


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MIAMI, FLORIDA, October 15, 2002: Sponsored by the Hindu Student's Council, an International Yoga Convention will be held October 25-27, 2002, at the University of Miami. H.H. Sri Swami Brahmavidyananda, Yoga Master from India, will conduct the convention. Opportunities to learn and practice simple aspects of yoga will be available. There will also be practical demonstrations and workshops featuring different facets of yoga. For further information, contact "source" above.






Hindu Missionaries Head Overseas


Posted on 2002/10/14 8:49:02 ( 987 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, October 11, 2002: Nearly 600 years after the first Christian missionaries landed in India, brahmin priests are being readied at a seminary near Delhi to take their religion worldwide and defend "the rights of Hindus against conversion." Religious organizations aligned with India's Hindu nationalist-led government, committed to preserving Hinduism in its purest and most traditional form, said the priests would try and dilute the influence of Christianity on expatriate Hindus. Three brahmin graduates from the Hindu Heritage Parishthan at Modipuram, 70 km. from Delhi, left recently for the United States, Singapore and Mauritius. Their missionary work amongst overseas Hindus will last at least a decade. "Well versed in ancient scriptures, these priests are expected to spread the virtues of Hinduism and perform rituals for the Indian diaspora," said Shashi Sham Singh, head of the seminary. All entrants to the Modipuram Seminary are required to be proficient in Sanskrit and have a working knowledge of English. During nine months of training, at the end of which they are awarded a diploma, they study ancient texts, learn to perform complicated Hindu rituals like marriages, child-naming ceremonies and death rites. They also recite lengthy and complicated Sanskrit prayers from memory. "It is not only Hinduism the priests are taught, but also other religions to enable them to counter Christian arguments."






Hindu Missionaries Head Overseas


Posted on 2002/10/14 8:49:02 ( 936 reads )

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DELHI, INDIA, October 11, 2002: Nearly 600 years after the first Christian missionaries landed in India, brahmin priests are being readied at a seminary near Delhi to take their religion worldwide and defend "the rights of Hindus against conversion." Religious organizations aligned with India's Hindu nationalist-led government, committed to preserving Hinduism in its purest and most traditional form, said the priests would try and dilute the influence of Christianity on expatriate Hindus. Three brahmin graduates from the Hindu Heritage Parishthan at Modipuram, 70 km. from Delhi, left recently for the United States, Singapore and Mauritius. Their missionary work amongst overseas Hindus will last at least a decade. "Well versed in ancient scriptures, these priests are expected to spread the virtues of Hinduism and perform rituals for the Indian diaspora," said Shashi Sham Singh, head of the seminary. All entrants to the Modipuram Seminary are required to be proficient in Sanskrit and have a working knowledge of English. During nine months of training, at the end of which they are awarded a diploma, they study ancient texts, learn to perform complicated Hindu rituals like marriages, child-naming ceremonies and death rites. They also recite lengthy and complicated Sanskrit prayers from memory. "It is not only Hinduism the priests are taught, but also other religions to enable them to counter Christian arguments."




Tirtagangga Water Palace Lovingly Refurbished


Posted on 2002/10/14 8:48:02 ( 915 reads )

Source: Jakarta Post

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, October 3, 2002: Tirtagangga (literally meaning the blessed water of Ganga) Water Palace is located at Ababi village, north of Amlapura, the capital of Karangasem regency, around two hours drive from the island's capital, Denpasar. The five-acre complex was built in 1946 by the last King of Karangasem, as a royal bathing and leisure compound. Located in a scenic area, Tirtangga has been a favorite spot for both the members of the royal family and the local people. Tirtagangga consists of three levels. A small temple, swimming pool and two decorative ponds are situated on the highest level. The complex's center and main attraction, a towering eleven-tiered fountain which rises from a beautiful pond is located on the middle level. In 1963, Bali's largest and holiest mountain, Agung, located only 15 miles away, erupted, triggering a series of powerful earthquakes that severely damaged the complex. Today a comprehensive restoration program, aimed at reviving the initial beauty of the Water Palace, is being carried out by the grandsons and granddaughters of the last King of Karangasem. Along with the restoration of the water fountain, several new buildings will be added to the complex to provide space for exhibitions, conferences and a handicraft center. New plants and statues will be added and pools will be refurbished using the original Karangasem-style tiles. The project is scheduled for completion in 2006.


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