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Piety At A Price For Gangasagar Pilgrims

Posted on 2002/12/18 8:47:02 ( 1043 reads )


GANGASAGAR, INDIA, December 10, 2002: Beginning this year, Gangasagar Mela, one of the largest religious congregations, will no longer be an absolute domain of sadhus and ordinary pilgrims. It will also be a paradise for for a fortunate few, ready to spend thousands of rupees per day for the experience. Thanks to a new idea of the West Bengal government and a consortium of five Kolkata-based tour operators, some 2,000 rich pilgrims will be able to travel to Gangasagar between January 11-15, 2003. These pilgrims can take holy dips in isolated shores and enjoy exclusive pujas at the Kapil Muni Temple as part of a five-star hospitality package. Trying to tap the religious tourism market for the country's rich, five tour operators have arranged separate guided package tours for them during the Mela next year. Tour participants will have access to life guards at the bathing ghat, medical and fire services and cultural programs at night as part of the exclusive services at a cost between US$55 and &75 per day per person.

Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh in UK Not Banned

Posted on 2002/12/18 8:46:02 ( 1100 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, December 16, 2002 : An Indian Muslim organization has stated that the British government has turned down its demand to ban the two UK-based charitable groups with close ties with Sangh Pariwar even as the Charity Commission said the allegations against them were under "serious investigation." "We sent a 300-page dossier to the Home Office and the Charity Commission with clear proof that the VHP and its subordinate bodies in the UK had links with the VHP in India and were working for the same fascist mission," Chairman of the Council of Indian Muslims Munaf Zeena said in a statement. "While the matter is under serious investigation by the Charity Commission, unfortunately we have received a disappointing answer from the Home office that these organizations could not be banned," he said. However, Zeena hoped that in the wake of a recent television report asserting that the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh and SEWA International raised funds in Britain for "anti-minorities programs and pogroms in India", the British government would review its decision.

Bangladesh Minorities Face Repression

Posted on 2002/12/18 8:45:02 ( 979 reads )


CALCUTTA, INDIA, October 18, 2002: With the media's focus turned to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, some believe their attention has been turned off Bangladesh while Islamic extremism has been on the rise there. Minority Hindus, Buddhist, Christians, Tribals, and liberal Muslims are under threat as religious intolerance takes hold following the victory of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) in the October 2001 elections. The BNP is led by Khaleda Zia, widow of the assassinated military dictator General Zia, who amended the original Constitution, replacing secularism with the "Sovereignty of Allah." The Islamic supremacist Jamaat-e-Islami party is a key constituent in her governing coalition. The party has argued that strict Islamic sharia law should be implemented in Bangladesh, just as it was by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Jamaat collaborated with Pakistan during the bloody 1971 war of liberation, in which 3 million civilians were murdered. A list of human rights violations on members of Bangladesh's minority religious population is being graphically documented by Mayer Dak correspondents based there. Readers may log onto "source" above for the full report.

Yoga, New Mantra for the Indian Air Force

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:49:02 ( 1119 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA December 1, 2002: Yoga may soon become the new "mantra" for Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots to cope with the stress of flying fighter jets. The proposal for introducing yoga in the IAF was suggested by IAF Chief, Marshal S. Krishnaswamy. Addressing the International Conference on Aerospace Medicine here recently, Krishnaswamy noted that yoga is a great stress reliever and lamented the fact that it was not being used as extensively as it should be to grapple with various mental and psychological problems. Quoting examples from some Western Air Forces manuals, the Air Chief said they had included yoga as a stress reducer. "India, which gave this scientific art to the world, is unfortunately neglecting it," he said. Krishnaswamy felt it was high time that the IAF pilots practiced asanas to combat gravitational pull related problems. He also said research done in the field of aviation medicine should not only cover pilots but air traffic controllers, radar controllers and others involved in flying fighter jets.

Religious Leaders of Other Faiths Rejoice With Christians

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:48:02 ( 1035 reads )

Source: Vancouver Sun

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA, December 11, 2002: The following is a letter to the editor, Vancouver Sun: "We, 40 clergy of diverse historic faiths in the Greater Vancouver regional district, have banded together as the Clergy for Compassion and Harmony (CCH). We would like to state categorically that we, religious leaders of many of the Buddhist, visible minority Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Kabir, Konko, Sikh and Zoroastrian faith communities, do not support any letters to the editor claiming to be concerned that the celebration of Christmas is embarrassing to or disrespectful of the religious sensitivities of the people of other faiths. A few self-appointed individuals, at this time of Advent and the Christmas season, may voice disapproval of joyous public celebration of Christmas as offensive to the people of other faiths. We do not believe they really represent the people of minority faiths. The CCH rejoices with the Christian majority peoples in their celebration of the birth of their savior. May Christians receive special blessings and renewal in their faith and life through all their joyous reflection and celebration at this season. We trust that Christians in their turn respect and accept the joyous celebration of festivals of other faiths. Acharya S.P. Dwivedi, President, Clergy for Compassion and Harmony."

Mantras For Expectant Mothers

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:47:02 ( 1436 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 13, 2002: Not many music companies give a thought to motherhood, but Dhadkan, along with Sony Music has released an album entitled "Garbham Dehi" for expectant mothers at US$1.35. At this sensitive and important phase in a woman's life, an expectant mother needs care and attention in many areas, including spiritual, they believe. The mantras on the album are divided into three sections: those to be heard before conceiving a child, those listened to during pregnancy for the safety of the mother and child and mantras to be heard after delivery for the safety and overall development of the child. The slokas have been sung by Raghunandan Panshikar, while music has been composed by Bhupal Panshikar. The script is by Dr. B.P. Vyas. Readers may contact "source" above for additional information.

Militants Accused of Forcible Conversion on Tripura Tribals

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:46:02 ( 1008 reads )


TRIPURA, INDIA, December 8, 2002: Tribal Hindus in Tripura have formed vigilante groups, claiming militants are attempting to convert people at gunpoint to Christianity. Rampada Jamatia, a leader of the Jamatia tribal community, said that the forced conversions were being carried out by the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT). "We believe up to 5,000 tribal villagers were coerced into converting to Christianity by the NLFT during the past couple of years," Jamatia said in Jirania, 25 kilometers east of Agartala. Community chiefs and religious heads of 19 tribes met recently and formed a platform called the Tribal Culture Protection Committee to counter the militant threat. "The committee will discuss ways and means on how best to tackle the threat to our religion and culture, besides lobbying the local government to ensure protection for the religious rights of the tribes people," said tribal chieftain Bikram Bahadur Jamatia.

Chinese-Born Ethnic Indian Receives Chinese Citizenship

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:45:02 ( 1095 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

HONG KONG, CHINA, December 8, 2002: East Indians in Hong Kong may now have an opportunity to become Chinese citizens. Fifteen-year-old Vehka Harjani, born in Hong Kong, has been granted Chinese nationality and a Hong Kong passport. She is the first recorded case where an Ethnic Indian with no Chinese blood or relatives has obtained these documents. In the past, ethnic Indians applying for Chinese citizenship were denied. A top Indian consular official says, "It is a pointer towards a new approach towards ethnic minorities." Indian businessman and social activist Ravi Gidumal adds, "The move is an important milestone for Hong Kong Indians."

British Minister Bans Yoga from Church

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:44:02 ( 1009 reads )


HENHAM, ENGLAND, November 31, 2002: An English vicar has banned yoga from his church because he fears the exercise classes could lead participants on a path to "Eastern mysticism." The Rev. Richard Farr, of St. Mary's in Henham, on the Essex-Hertfordshire border, said he had enforced the ban after Tom Newstead, the yoga instructor, had confirmed that the ultimate aim of yoga was to enable participants to "ascend to a higher spiritual plane." "We are here to tell people about Jesus and his exclusive claims. It seems completely inappropriate that we should give someone a platform who is advocating different spirituality's," Farr said. Newstead, whose classes included several members of the congregation, was said to be surprised by the ban. Yoga, a Hindu system of exercise and meditation, has supporters in the medical profession who say it can relieve stress as well as help with spinal and muscular ailments.

New Delhi Toy Shop Owners Admonished for Using Wild Animals in Live Shows

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:43:02 ( 1027 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 11, 2002: Toy shop owners in Khan market sometimes engage tribal people to entertain Delhi's rich kids on their birthdays with dancing bears, elephant rides, monkey shows or snake charmers. When activist-politician Maneka Gandhi got word of a recent engagement at the Kuwaiti Embassy, she reported the toy shop owner to the police. Ms. Gandhi says, "Under the Wildlife Act, possession of wildlife is an offense and carries a prosecution of five years imprisonment and a fine of US$1,038." Upon investigation, the police could find no evidence that the toy shop owner had done anything illegal. However, alerted by the complaint, several toy shops in the Khan market who used to arrange for these shows on request from families have stopped doing so.

Hindu Students Announce "Solidarity in Diversity" Conference

Posted on 2002/12/17 8:42:02 ( 981 reads )


ATLANTA, U.S.A., December 17, 2002: The Emory Hindu Students Council is holding a conference entitled, "Solidarity in Diversity: A journey through diverse religious practices in Hinduism." Scheduled for January 17-20, 2003, the conference will host speakers including Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Dr. Arvind Sharma and Dr. Vasudha Narayanan. Discussion workshops, an Indian classical music concert, banquet and cultural show are included in the program. People of all faiths are encouraged to attend. For more information readers may log onto "source" above.

Pejawar Seer Speaks Out for Anti-conversion Act

Posted on 2002/12/16 8:49:02 ( 968 reads )


DHARWAD, INDIA, December 16, 2002: Pejawar Aadheenam Mahasannidhanam, H.H. Vishwesha Teertha, has supported the anti-conversion act passed by Tamil Nadu and urged all state governments to follow suit. Speaking to reporters at Dharwad recently, His Holiness called upon all the political parties in the country to include as one of their goals the support of the anti-conversion act. He clarified that he was not opposed to those volunteering to convert to other religions, but only opposed conversion by force and coercive means. Swami advocated the need to form district level committees comprising the representatives of various religions and the government to monitor the activities of some religious organizations which are allegedly indulging in converting people by force or enticement.

Communists Succeed in Removing Sanskrit Education in Nepal

Posted on 2002/12/16 8:48:02 ( 1087 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, December 10, 2002: Nepal has ordered it's schools to drop compulsory Sanskrit lessons, but denies it has caved in to demands by Maoist rebels who say the language is foreign to the Himalayan Kingdom. The abolition of Sanskrit lessons is key amongst a list of educational reforms demanded by the rebels who have called on students to boycott classes across Nepal indefinitely from Monday. The Himalayan Times quoted Education Minister Devi Ojha as saying the decision was not made to comply with the rebels.

British Find Better Nutrition Helps Curb Violent Behavior

Posted on 2002/12/16 8:47:02 ( 1044 reads )


BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND, December 15, 2002: A study by researchers at the Buckinghamshire Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution found that adding nutrients to the inmates' diet reduced antisocial behavior in the unit. The British Home Office backed the study conducted on behalf of Natural Justice, which involved 231 18- to 21-year-old men in the maximum-security jail. Half of the offenders received daily nutritional supplements, while the rest received placebos. Both groups included a comparable mix of anxious, depressed and aggressive individuals. Their antisocial behaviors, ranging from violent assaults to swearing at the guards, were recorded before and during the experiment. Published in the July issue of The British Journal of Psychiatry, the results show that the inmates on supplements committed 25 percent fewer offenses than those taking placebos. The major implication, researchers said, is that boosting a diet can be a cheap and effective way of preventing offenses. Dr. Gesch's team reported inmates receiving supplements committed 35 percent fewer offenses than before starting the trial, compared with a seven per cent reduction in those taking placebos. However the improvement in behavior wasn't necessarily long lasting. Shortly after the experiment ended, the prison staff reported that violence against them rose by 40 percent.

Reggae Group UB40 Play For Peace in Sri Lanka

Posted on 2002/12/16 8:46:02 ( 1061 reads )


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, December 13, 2002: British reggae group, UB40, say the world should learn from Sri Lanka's peace process. The group is in Colombo and recently gave a concert for peace in Sri Lanka. The organizers say the idea is to reintegrate Sri Lanka into the rest of the world after two decades of civil war and show that the island is now safe to visit. Minister of Commerce Ravi Karunanayake says this is the biggest band to visit Sri Lanka for more than a decade. The concert is being simultaneously broadcast on screens in provincial towns in the conflict areas, including Jaffna. The minister says he hopes UB40 will fall in love with Sri Lanka and write a peace song for the island. Some might ask why Sri Lankans in the north and east need a foreign reggae band when many still do not have enough to eat or proper shelter. But after decades of bombardment, curfew and fear, the organizers would argue they're ready for some entertainment, too.

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