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Keeping Indian Heritage Alive in Tamil Nadu

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:48:02 ( 1162 reads )

Source: The Hindu

THANJAVUR, INDIA, December 1, 2002: People in Thanjavur affectionately call him "Maharaja," but S. Babaji Rajah Bhonsle Chattrapathy, Senior Prince of Thanjavur, is a civil engineer with a keen interest in preserving heritage structures. He is the hereditary trustee of the Thanjavur Palace Devasthanam, which comprises 88 temples, including the Brihadeeswara Temple. Chattrapathy is also the sixth descendant of the Thanjavur Maharaj King Raja Serfoji II, who lived in the 1800's. Speaking on various aspects of preserving ancient buildings and priceless traditions, Chattrapathy said, "Preserving the past requires a lot of social awareness and much care. People of those days were not self-centered. From the kind of heritage buildings they have left behind, it is clear that they did not think only about themselves." "The buildings are living monuments of culture, and should be given proper care. We should not be seen to be lagging behind," he added. Bhonsle Chattrapaty said foreigners had shown keen interest in the traditions of ancient India, and had visited the Thanjavur palace to study the unique paintings on the walls, and observe the process of writing palm leaf manuscripts. Highlighting the need for developing tourism, the senior prince said, "Our monuments in the South are much older, but we do not seem to be capitalizing on their potential. In Thanjavur, for example, agriculture is seeing hard days, and tourism can supplement the traditional income from the farms."

Chhattisgarh Police Will No Longer Use Caste Derivations in Records

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:47:02 ( 999 reads )


RAIPUR, INDIA, November 29, 2002: Names like Rajesh Sindhi, Salim Mussalman, Sudhir Bengali and Babulal Satnami will no longer figure in the records of Chhattisgarh Police. There will be only proper names and surnames. The state police have decided to completely do away with recording the caste of both the complainant and the suspect/accused from complaint registers, FIRs and even the daily status reports. State Director General of Police Ashok Darbaari has issued orders in this connection requesting all police stations in the state to strictly refrain the long tradition of asking and recording caste and religion of the complainants and suspects. They will no longer be displayed prominently in all written material, including the releases issued to the media.

Puri Priests Learn Martial Arts

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:46:02 ( 1174 reads )


BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, November 29, 2002: Servants of Puri's Lord Jagannath might soon have an added qualification on their resumes. Priests who have spent a lifetime fine-tuning ritual supplication will now learn the art of resistance. Wary of an Akshardham or a Raghunath temple-style attack, administrators of Puri's most famous landmark have decided to impart martial arts training to the temple's priests. The way temple administrators see it, should terrorists manage to breach the outer security cordon of gun-toting personnel, the priests with their newly acquired karate, judo or kung-fu skills will present a second line of defense. "We are now initiating efforts to revive the traditional security system keeping in view modern needs. Thousands of devotees visit the shrine daily for a darshan of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. Entry and exit of so many people makes the shrine vulnerable to terrorists," temple administrator B. S. Panda said. The priests seemed enthusiastic saying, "It (physical training) will be very good," said R.C. Dasmohapatra, president of the Daitapati Nijog. The temple administrator did not explain how an unarmed priest, however skilled in martial arts, could successfully overcome a heavily armed terrorist.

England's King's College Students Hear Talk on Hinduism

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:45:02 ( 1345 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, December 2, 2002: With the lecture room packed to capacity a recent talk at King's College focused on relationship of Hinduism with findings of modern sciences, reports Jay Lakhani of the Vivekananda Center here. "One student asked about the importance of Hanuman and this topic brought into focus a serious flaw seen in the way Hinduism is portrayed to the Hindu youth in the West. I asked what is the main difference between say Superman and Hanuman? Both fly doing good to mankind, still there is a major difference. Hanuman should be the role model of every Hindu youth, because he stands for these three attributes: strength, intelligence and celibacy. One could see that this aspect of Hanuman has not been emphasized to the Hindu youth when someone remarked, "Then the Hindu youth will go away from religion! So be it, religion is not a fashion accessory! Without invoking this vital aspect the youth have missed out on the key feature of Hanuman. The reason Hanuman is greater than Superman is because if Louise Lane flutters her eyelashes at Superman he turns to jelly. If a beautiful lady flutters her eyelashes at Hanuman he would say, 'Mother, you have something in your eye ...let me clear it!' "

Thar Desert Fossil Hints At India's Saraswati River

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:44:02 ( 1108 reads )


JAIPUR, INDIA, December 2, 2002: Geologists in India say they have found an elephant fossil in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, supporting earlier theories that the vast desert was once a fertile area. They said the discovery also lent credence to the belief that a mighty river, named in the ancient Hindu Vedic texts as Saraswati, flowed through the region thousands of years ago. Senior geologist B.S. Paliwal said the elephant fossil was discovered in a village in Nagaur district, about 185 miles from the state capital of Jaipur, during gypsum mining. Professor Paliwal, who is the head of the geology department at the Jai Narain Vyas University, termed the find a "mammoth discovery for the scientific fraternity." The fossil dated back thousands of years, from the middle Holocene epoch. The remains were found embedded in a gypsum layer little more than 6 feet from the surface. Professor Paliwal said during the Pleistocene epoch, India touched Eurasia and there were indications that Asian elephants moved south due to the prevailing ice-age in the northern hemisphere. "It proves again that there were once rivers like Saraswati and civilizations were flourishing at their banks," Professor Paliwal said.

Once a Close Economic Rival of China, India Falls Behind

Posted on 2002/12/5 8:49:02 ( 1019 reads )


SONEPAT, INDIA, November 29, 2002: This lengthy article compares the economy of the world's two most populous countries, China and India. Once close economic rivals two decades ago, each is struggling to bring progress to vast numbers of impoverished people. But now China has surged far ahead. According to the World Bank, the average Chinese citizen now earns US$890 a year, compared with $460 for the typical Indian. Some blame India's lagging performance on the country's stifling bureaucracy while some cite the country's cultural traditions. Some even maintain that a democracy may be less able than an authoritarian government to promote growth in a poor country. However, the Indian economy has a few bright spots for pockets of high-tech prosperity have popped up in two cities, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Trinidad's Hindus Protest Alcoholic Ad Featuring Krishna

Posted on 2002/12/5 8:48:02 ( 1002 reads )


PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, December 5, 2002: Faced with the threat of a boycott, Angostura Ltd. has pulled a two-page advertisement from the Trinidad Express, after the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha complained it was inappropriate. The ad was promoting the company's "Spirit of Christmas, The Divine Child" exhibit, and included various religious images, from Jesus Christ to Lord Krishna. The references appeared alongside pictures of Angostura's rums. Maha Sabha Secretary General Sat Maharaj wrote to Angostura and described the ad as "a shameless act designed to show the Hindu God Krishna subliminally endorsing alcoholic products." Maharaj asked for an apology from Angostura and threatened to organize a national "boycott of all Angostura products." "Our religion and our concept of God must not be used to sell alcohol," Maharaj said. President of the Inter-Religious Organization, Bro. Noble Khan, supported the Maha Sabha's position. "Advertisers of goods and services should not create an element of distaste and disgust in promoting their products," Khan said in a telephone interview. Angostura agreed to withdraw the ad, and Chief Operating Officer Godfrey Bain wrote the Maha Sabha saying, "We sincerely apologize for any discomfort which our advertisements in today's Express may have caused yourself and the wider Hindu Community. We regret this most profoundly."

Rishikesh Ashrams Say Foreigners Staying Home Following 9/11

Posted on 2002/12/5 8:47:02 ( 1351 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 25, 2002: Several top ashrams in Rishikesh, which have in the past catered to high profile international celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Ted Turner, Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, are reported to have suffered heavy losses this year with the aftereffects of September 11 reducing the inflow of foreigners to a trickle. At least seven of the 269 ashrams in and around Rishikesh have been severely affected as their transcendental and spiritual therapy courses are patronized by wealthy Europeans and Hollywood personalities. During 2001, the seven ashrams collectively registered 1,400 people in various disciplines. This year, they are poised to close with the low figure of 158. According to Swami Shyamendra, founder of the Intergalactic Culture Foundation, Rishikesh, the extent of terrorism in this part of the world has kept people away. "The Western mind still hasn't come to terms with the WTC attack. For them, there is no difference between India and Pakistan. The fear of being treated like Daniel Pearl still haunts them. This year we have received only five per cent of the visitors who arrived last year," said Swami.

Entire Village Suffers Because of Sati Punishment Decree

Posted on 2002/12/5 8:46:02 ( 1058 reads )

Source: www.ndtv.com

PATNA TAMOLI, INDIA, November 25, 2002: The Jabalpur High Court has served notice to the Madhya Pradesh government regarding the state government's decision to collectively punish villagers of Patna Tamoli village. The punishment was meted out to this village after the residents allegedly helped a 65-year old woman commit sati (burning herself alive on the funeral pyre of her husband) on August 8, 2002. Following the incident, the government decided to stop all projects. These were essentially food-for-work programs meant to provide relief in this region badly affected by drought. Some of the residents approached the high court to end this two-year punishment by the government. "Those people who have encouraged sati should be punished. But the whole village should not be held responsible for this," said Shankar Prasad Chaurasia, a petitioner. With all development work stopped, up to 300 residents of this village of 4,000 have abandoned their homes. A large number of them were working on government projects like a US$7,900 plan to provide drinking water. Now their pay and even pensions have been stopped. "We still haven't got money for the previous work we did. The administration says that the money has been stopped but they should at least clear our old dues," said Vimla Chaurasia, village head. As long as the government refuses to pay, the villagers say they have no alternative but to leave their homes and migrate elsewhere in search of livelihood.

Historian Defends New NCERT Books

Posted on 2002/12/5 8:45:02 ( 1154 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 23, 2002: Eminent historian and archaeologist, Professor B. B. Lal has dismissed as baseless the allegations of misrepresenting history in the new history text books for class XI at a lecture organized by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). He claimed that for some time, four myths had been perpetuated, obscuring India's past. These are the Aryan invasion of India, the Harappans being Dravidian-speaking people, the Rigvedic Saraswati being the same as the Helmand of Afghanistan and the extinction of Harappan culture. The attempt to correct these myths in new history books has been criticized by some historians as a distortion and misrepresentation of ancient Indian history. Prof. Lal, supplementing his talk with evidence from recent discoveries, said the Vedas were erroneously dated back to 1200 BCE by German scholar Max Mueller. The Vedas include many references to the river Saraswati, which had dried up before 2000 BCE, therefore the time of Vedas has to be before 2000 BCE. The Harappan civilization itself was found dating back to fifth millennium BCE. Prof. Lal explained that since there were no Harappan sites in South India nor were Dravidian sites found in North India, it was a myth that the Harappans were pushed down South.

Speakers on Hinduism Sought

Posted on 2002/12/5 8:44:02 ( 1221 reads )


UNITED STATES, December 5, 2002: Western-born and educated individuals who can speak on Hinduism, with a special interest on Hindu marriages, are being sought. Readers are invited to contact "source" above for further information.

India's Dysfunctional Elephants Become a Jumbo Problem

Posted on 2002/12/2 8:49:02 ( 1021 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 2, 2002: As more and more elephants that were once employed in logging camps enter the free market, India grapples with the problem of such domesticated tuskers being turned dysfunctional as a result of rough treatment and little up-to-date medical care from their unprofessional owners. Today, India's population of domestic elephants is well above 2,000 and growing. The animals are valuable. A big tusker can fetch up US$14,500, which is the price of an high-end car here. But they are expensive to keep and owners often cut corners, spawning an increasingly problematic population of elephants. There is a legendary bond between elephant handlers, called "mahouts," and their charges, but for the most part no such bond exists between elephants and their new owners. One famous place where elephants can be taken home for a price is Sonepur in the state of Bihar. A traditional fair was inaugurated there last week at which, it is said, literally anything can be bought and sold. Calculations by locals put the turnover figure for elephants alone at $207,103.00. There is no sales tax and no regulations beyond tenuous attempts by the state's wildlife department to monitor the elephants. Many of the elephants have dubious pasts and are of doubtful disposition, which could make them liabilities to new owners who, unlike the traditional mahouts, do not know the art of harmonious coexistence.

Goldsmiths in Orissa May Face Extinction

Posted on 2002/12/2 8:48:02 ( 1017 reads )


ORISSA, INDIA, November 28, 2002: Goldsmiths in Orissa who craft handmade pieces of jewelry from gold and silver are suffering a plight that may bring an end to their profession. Machine-made ornaments now dominate the marketplace and merchants are able to buy from these suppliers on credit. Trinath Sahoo, a traditional craftsman says, "Big jewelers hardly display handmade jewelry in shop windows these days. So even if one were willing to buy a nice handmade piece, one would not have the choice." Many states such as Maharashtra and Kerala have placed restrictions on sale of machine-made jewelry. So far Orissa has done nothing to help the traditional craftsmen. Market sources say nearly ten thousand workers are facing the prospect of unemployment.

Cross-Cultural Marriages Gain Popularity in Canada

Posted on 2002/12/2 8:47:02 ( 1075 reads )

Source: Toronto Star

TORONTO, CANADA, November 23, 2002: Young Hindus growing up in Canada are often choosing a life partner who is not a Hindu. In fact, according to Dr. Ravi Shrivastava, a volunteer priest at the Mississauga Arya Samaj, three out of every four wedding ceremonies he performed this year were "mixed" marriages, that is young Hindus marrying mostly white Christians. Hindu parents often oppose marriage outside their religion and their objections are interpreted as racist. However, it is generally believed the Hindu Canadian parents only want to preserve their culture and religion and that they fear a cross-cultural marriage will not do that. Ajit Adhopia, author, says, "In a multicultural multiracial society, mixed marriages are inevitable. I believe Hinduism will survive and thrive in Canada." HPI adds: The half century of ministry by Hinduism Today's founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, in the West revealed that more often than not these mixed marriages do not result in a strong Hindu next generation. It is far better, he advised, for husband and wife to be of the same religion.

Give Youth a Chance, Says Swami Chaitanya

Posted on 2002/12/2 8:46:02 ( 1202 reads )


MULUND, INDIA, November 20, 2002: "Youth are blamed for being careless and useless, but in reality I feel that they are cared for less and are used less, and as a result the costliest resources of the society is getting wasted," said Swami Atma Chaitanya, a spiritual leader from the Chinmaya Mission. Swami is in Mulund to deliver a one-week series of lectures on personality development and self-development for all age groups, but especially youth. The event has highlighted the fact that spiritualism still occupies a major part in the lives of individuals from all walks of life. "Spiritualism plays an important role in the personality development of individuals. It is the answer to modern-day ills like restlessness and lack of concentration. Those following our advice find it easy to cope with such troubles. Even people from other religions find it easy to practice their own religion after acquiring spiritualistic skills from our ancient scriptures," Swami Atma Chaitanya said. Around 1,000 persons have attended the function since Friday. The function is being held twice a day in morning and evening sessions, and Swami is delivering spiritual lectures based on the Hindu religious books, especially Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads as well as commentaries of renowned Hindu saints, including the late Swami Chinmayananda.

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