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Chennai Couple Spends 15 Years Cleaning and Renovating Temples

Posted on 2002/10/23 8:44:02 ( 1040 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 ( 930 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 ( 1025 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 ( 925 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 ( 969 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 ( 1600 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 ( 1062 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.

Puja at Your Desktop

Posted on 2002/10/17 8:49:02 ( 1023 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, October 11, 2002: For those who wish to do a sightseeing of the magnificent temporary temples set up along the city streets for Durga festival) at their own convenience without the crowds and traffic, several sites are available for viewing right on your desktop. Sashti onwards, pujo4u.com will showcase 100 pujas (as the temporary temples are called) on their site. The site has sections on puja including literature, music, cuisine, sweets, traffic and weather. There is a section on fashion, too, in which dresses for both men and women are on display. You can log on to calcuttaweb.com and know about pujas in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia. For those who wish to know more about the tradition behind Durga Puja there is information on the traditions and rituals and even a behind-the-scenes peek, at bangalinet.com/durgapuja.htm. The site has an innovative e-puja concept that allows devotees to pay his virtual offerings to the Goddess. The interactive presentation has flowers, lamps and even arati that can be set in motion by a mouse click. Nearly all sites have e-greetings available.

Doctoral Candidate Seeks Reader Input

Posted on 2002/10/17 8:48:02 ( 1016 reads )


AUSTIN, TEXAS, October 17, 2002: Ph.D. candidate, Karline McLain, at The University of Texas, Austin, is seeking readers of Amar Chitra Katha comic books for a survey. "I am interested in the ways in which these comics combine text and image to retell classical mythological stories, as well as narratives of more recent historical events," McLain says. While spending last year in Mumbai interviewing the authors, artists and editors who create the comics, she was also able to speak with many fan club presidents and other readers of the comics in various cities in India. "Now I am trying to survey readers of these comic books who live outside of India," she says, "to learn how they have discovered these comic books, which stories they have most enjoyed, and what images have been most memorable to them." Readers of HPI who are interested in responding to Ms McLain's questionnaire may log onto "source" above.

Sanskrit Celebrations in Canada

Posted on 2002/10/17 8:47:02 ( 1012 reads )


MONTREAL, CANADA, October 12, 2002: Celebrating Sanskrit and it's contribution to Indian civilization, Bharat Bhavan Hall was filled with a capacity crowd. Various scholars spoke on the contribution of Sanskrit to the culture and civilization of India (sanskriti) and the role Sanskrit historically played as the cultural lingua franca of India. The question and answer session provoked vigorous debate over the potential role of Sanskrit as facilitator of modernization of Indian culture and society today. There was enthusiastic audience participation in spoken Sanskrit. This ranged from choral singing, led by Malika Das, prayers in praise of Goddess Durga by Professor Shastri Jandhyala, recitation of poetry by Rakesh Sharma, and narration of stories by Professor Savitri De Tourril. For additional information contact "source" above.

Blast at Durga Puja in Assam Leaves Four Dead

Posted on 2002/10/16 8:49:02 ( 913 reads )


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 ( 954 reads )


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 ( 980 reads )


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 ( 931 reads )


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."

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