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American Desi Makes Miss America Contest

Posted on 2002/9/26 9:44:02 ( 1058 reads )


ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY, September 19, 2002: Considering the beauty business has become such a regular stomping ground for Indians, Bharata Natyam at the Miss America Pageant was bound to happen sooner or later. It arrived in grace in Atlantic City Wednesday night when Shoha Kirti Parekh, 24, performed Bharata Natyam in the talent section of the Miss America pageant before an audience more used to seeing piano recitals, guitar playing or, at the very outside, a Tahitian dance. Parekh, an Indian-American who unexpectedly became Miss Delaware in August this year, showcased her dancing skills in the run-up to the Miss America finale. She missed the top ten in the finale, however.

Pramukh Swami Calls for Restraint in Wake of Temple Attack

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:49:02 ( 1199 reads )

Source: HPI

GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 25, 2002: In response to our urgent inquiry, HPI received the following message from the Swaminarayan Center in Gandhinagar, "We thank you for your concern. You would already know that the incident has ended and the two terrorists have been killed by the army. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has prayed for the souls of the dead and for the speedy recovery of the injured, to all the Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Bhagwan Swaminarayan for giving due strength to the family members to bear with the loss of the innocents killed by the terrorists. He has also sincerely appealed to all devotees and citizens to keep calm in this time of crisis, and not resort to violence. We thank you again for your concern, and are sure you would all have prayed for the souls of the departed and for strength to their family and friends."

US Temples Mourn Gujarat Massacre

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:48:02 ( 1059 reads )


WASHINGTON, DC, September 25, 2002: Hours after the massacre of some 30 devotees in Gujarat, hundreds of disciples gathered for prayers at Swaminarayan temples across the United States, where the group has a wide following, while President Bush and his administration strongly condemned the murderous attack. The most prominent meeting was at the Swaminarayan Sanstha Temple in Edison, New Jersey, where a previously planned prayer meeting with state and local officials turned into a long-distance wake. With dozens of temples across the US, the Swaminarayan Sanstha is the most prominent and non-controversial among Hindu organizations and has had goodwill visits by several public figures, including former President Bill Clinton. US-based devotees say the Swaminarayan complexes here are not only temples but also cultural, spiritual, historical and social centers. More than 300 people gathered at the Beltsville Temple last night in an impromptu prayer meeting as news of the massacre spread among devotees, Kirit Patel, the temple priest said. More prayers are planned for the weekend.

Protest Planned for "Saffron Warriors" Screening

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:47:02 ( 1151 reads )

Source: Press Release

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 25, 2002: Some Hindus have expressed concern about the screening of the film, "Saffron Warriors," scheduled for Barnard College of Columbia University, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY, Room 304, Barnard Hall, at 6:00 pm on September 27. The 23-minute film by Elizabeth Jones is described by the college: "The documentary is on Nazi-style politics in Gujarat. It was made two months ago -- nearly 4 months after the outbreak of systematic state-sponsored violence against Muslims in this western state of India. It looks at the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and its repercussions on ordinary people. It also examines the impact of RSS on the future of Indian people through the eyes of those trapped in refugee camps, business men and middle class families."

Request for Fijian Hindi to be Incorporated in School Curriculum

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:46:02 ( 1065 reads )


SUVA, FIJI, September 20, 2002: High school students and teachers have called on the Ministry of Education to incorporate Fiji Hindi into the curriculum. The teachers said the use of pure Hindi by radio stations at times raises a number of questions one, of which being, "Is every Indo-Fijian here able to understand the use of pure Hindi, particularly, some words used in the news bulletins and the figures read in Hindi?" Students interviewed said they would be more comfortable if they could use Fiji-Hindi, which they speak daily at home, in their exams. However, some students are also of the view that if they do not study pure Hindi, then they will forget their mother tongue completely.

Tennessee Temple Modeled After India's Venkateswaran Temple

Posted on 2002/9/25 9:45:02 ( 1112 reads )

Source: gomemphis.com

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 19, 2002: For more than a year, Loganathan Chinnasamy and his crew have labored at the Indian Cultural Center's temple in Eads, Tennessee. The nine men left their homes in India to decorate a Hindu house of worship modeled after one of their homeland's most revered temples, Sri Venkateswara in Thirumala. While the Hindu Temple in Eads has been functioning for eight years, Chinnasamy is now charged with turning it into the detailed work of art that marks the finest of Hindu temples. A community center will be added to the existing cultural center within the next five years, said Dr. Prasad Duggirala, chairman of the board of trustees, adding that the improvements to the 11.5-acre compound are being taken in steps, "so we don't have too much financial burden." The temple serves an Indian community of 5,000 to 6,000 devotees in and around Shelby County, Tennessee.

Terrorists Attack Akshardham Temple in Gujarat, 44 Dead

Posted on 2002/9/24 9:49:02 ( 1072 reads )


GANDHINAGAR, INDIA, September 25, 2002: Forty-four people, including men, women and children, were killed and another 100 seriously injured in a deadly attack by terrorists on the Akshardham temple complex here on Tuesday evening. Two terrorists are presently engaged in a gun battle with security forces joined by NSG commandos flown in from Delhi. The two terrorists, now on the complex's roof, have inflicted injuries on security personnel trying to get closer. At least 500 people have been rescued from the 23-acre temple complex. A temple spokesman, Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, said about 100 people are believed to be inside the multimedia auditorium but they appeared to be safe. Official sources said 44 people have been killed and their bodies have been shifted to civil hospitals here and in Ahmedabad. Some Hindu monks have been reported among the casualties. Briefing newsmen, Deputy Prime Minister L K. Advani said in Delhi that two to four terrorists staged the attack. They arrived in an ambassador car and climbed over the temple wall to enter the premises. The terrorists were armed with AK-47 rifles. The terrorists, according to Advani, entered the sprawling Akshardham temple complex at around 4:45 pm and started shooting indiscriminately at the visitors. Three to four grenades were also hurled at the devotees.

Mumbai Devotees Bid Goodbye to Ganesha

Posted on 2002/9/24 9:48:02 ( 1040 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, September 21, 2002: Hundreds of thousands of devotees bid farewell to their favorite Lord Ganesha on Friday, immersing icons of the Deity amidst shouts of "Ganapati bappa morya, pudchya varshi lavkar yaa," a ritual that marks the end of the 10-day festival. Huge icons of the lord smiled at the devotees as they were taken to the beach for immersion while young boys and girls, danced to the tune of the drum and tasha. Ganesha icons of all sizes and shapes and in a riot of colors made their way majestically onto the Chowpatty sands. At one count, 443 large icons and 8,785 small icons had been immersed at Chowpatty. Devotees milled around bidding farewell by performing the last arati (worship with lamps) of this year's festival before leading the popular deity into the waters. Many families with small children and grandparents could be seen bidding good-bye to the Ganesha icons that had enlivened their homes for the last ten days.

NASA Photos Reveal Bridge to Lanka

Posted on 2002/9/24 9:47:02 ( 1134 reads )


USA, September 24, 2002: Space images taken by NASA reveal a mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The recently discovered bridge, clearly visible in the NASA photos, is made of a chain of underwater shoals 18 miles long. This article claims the bridge appears "manmade," but does not say how that conclusion was arrived at, nor if NASA agreed. According to the Ramayana, Lord Rama built a bridge to Lanka in ancient times, and the new photos greatly intrigue Hindus.

Miracle Reported in Gujarat Siva Temples

Posted on 2002/9/23 9:49:02 ( 954 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, September 23, 2002: Reports of a miracle have people thronging to Siva temples across the state. People have sighted "Om" on Siva Lingams in temples and observed water was flowing out of the icon. Crowds thronged Siva temples at Hatkeshwar, Amraiwadi, Vatva, and Navrangpura in Ahmedabad, and Karelibaug, Makarpura and other places in Vadodara. In Ahmedabad, the crowds got so unwieldy that police reinforcements had to be rushed to control them. According to reports, the Somnath temple, which is among the 12 Jyotir Lingams, was also thrown open and people were seen performing arati (worship with lights) at the temple, hoping to witness the miracle.

New Zealand to Honor India with Expo on Weddings

Posted on 2002/9/23 9:48:02 ( 1027 reads )

Source: Sify News

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, September 20, 2002: New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, will launch a two-year long exhibition on Indian weddings as a way of honoring Indian migration to the country, a museum official said. "Aainaa -- Reflections Through Indian Wedding" marks weddings here with photos, talks, dancing and music. Hindu, Sikh and Muslim weddings will all be displayed, Te Papa ("Our Place") concept leader Robyn Anderson said. Although Indians have been coming here since the late 19th Century, both from India and from the sugarcane fields of Fiji, Anderson said the first Indian wedding did not take place until after World War II. Before then men went back to India to find partners and marry. Today the weddings are mostly held in New Zealand with a lot more mixed marriage couples choosing to have both a religious service, usually Hindu, and a civil one. Astrological charts are still consulted and the associated ceremonies may still last several days. The color of saris, the gold and the garlands make Indian weddings easy work for display, although Anderson says it is much more than just a lavish display. "It has a very serious element to it, as the wedding is a framework of engagement with the host society."

Ganesha Festival More Popular This Year

Posted on 2002/9/23 9:47:02 ( 1017 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, September 20, 2002: Signs of religious revival are evident, especially with regard to Ganesha festivities. The trend is especially evident in areas affected by the riots earlier this year. Ahmedabad, the Panchmahals, Dahod, Vadodara and areas of North Gujarat, which saw large-scale disturbances earlier this year, have also witnessed a significant rise in the number of Ganesha icons during the yearly festival. According to figures available with Vadodara city police, as many as 320 more Ganesha icons were installed in the city this year. Vadodara commissioner of police D D Tuteja said the increase had come to the department's notice and arrangements were made accordingly. An increase in the number of Ganesha pandals (temporary temples along the street) has also been seen in riot-affected areas like Fatehpura and Limkheda. Sources informed that the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad had distributed as many as 578 icons this year in the district. In Ahmedabad, the number of Ganesha celebrations has jumped by at least 100. Records of the city police commissioner show that while 480 pujas were registered in 2001, there are more than 580 this time around. All these localities were severely hit during riots. Parag Naik, organizer of the Ganesha Puja at Dakshini Society in Maninagar, says: There are at least 390 large Ganesha Puja celebrations this year, which is more than last year. Maninagar alone has recorded jump from 75 to 150 pujas.

VHP National Secretary: Gujarat riots "Not a Matter of Shame, But a Matter of Pride"

Posted on 2002/9/23 9:46:02 ( 985 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

SHIMLA, INDIA, September 17, 2002: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad yesterday criticized the remarks of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New York that Gujarat riots were a "shame" for the country and said what had happened in the State after the Godhra killings was "not a matter of shame, but a matter of pride." There were other more "important" issues like migration of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley which the country should be ashamed of and the Prime Minister should have focussed on such issues also, VHP National Secretary Surendra Jain told reporters on September 16. Contacted directly by HPI, Jain confirmed that he had been quoted correctly. He also said that the number of madrasas (Islamic schools) had multiplied from 464 in 1947 to one hundred thousand now and alleged that Dev Bandh in Saharahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh was emerging as one of the biggest centers of Islamic fundamentalism. Referring to the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, he said the temple was already there and no one could remove it. He said it was not only a temple but "a symbol of our determination to fight oppression and atrocities."

American Employers Adjust to Multiple Religious Holiday Schedules

Posted on 2002/9/19 9:49:02 ( 1364 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, September 19, 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, the most religiously significant time of year for the world's 1 billion Muslims. But as the workplace has become more racially, ethnically and religiously diverse, firms have tried to devise ways for their Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto Muslim, Jewish or Baha'i employees -- indeed, all non-Christians -- to take time off to observe their holidays. "Most organizations today have become pretty good about handling non-Christian holidays, and certainly Jewish holidays are not a new issue in the American workplace," said Julie O'Mara, principal of O'Mara & Associates in Castro Valley, which works with major employers on issues of diversity. Most companies, especially large ones, offer what she refers to as "PTO" days -- personal time off -- that can be used by employees for any reason. Typically two to four days a year, the time off could be used, for instance, to observe Yom Kippur. "We still live in a Christian-dominated culture at the same time our workplaces have become increasingly diverse," O'Mara said. "Sometimes, non-Christian holidays or observances are just not on the radar of a company's human resources department or senior management." That's why she is a big fan of "diversity calendars" distributed by some employers to either managers or their entire work force. Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc. is one of those companies. Each year, Safeway passes out calendars that include up to two dozen well-known, as well as more obscure, religious observances each month. In highly diverse high-tech, being respectful of all religious traditions is vital, said Joe Gabbert, executive vice president of worldwide human resources for Documentum Inc. The Pleasanton-based software firm 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," he said.

Vajpayee Hails India Supreme Court Decision on Textbook Changes

Posted on 2002/9/19 9:48:02 ( 1031 reads )


New York, New York, September 15, 2002: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has hailed the verdict of the Supreme Court that the BJP-led NDA government was not "saffronising" education and said it was good the matter came up in the apex court. "Saffronizing" is a term used in a negative sense by the Indian press to mean changing or adapting something to match the views and teachings of Hindus in general or the RSS in particular. Vajpayee said ever since his government came to power, allegations were being levelled against his government that it was "saffronising" education. "It was good that the matter came up in the Supreme Court which turned down the plea that the education was being saffronised," Vajpayee said at a function organized by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in memory of Swami Vivekananda. The Supreme Court had on September 12 upheld the National Curriculum Framework for Secondary education (NCFSE) rejecting the contention that it was an attempt to saffronise education. In the context of saffronisation of education, Vajpayee in a lighter vein wondered what was wrong with this. "If saffronisation is taking place, what is wrong in it," he said amid laughter. Vajpayee went on to say "Bhagwa (Saffron) is a good color and it is associated with the battlefields for ages. The color has a long history." The Prime Minister said people in India must be made aware of the country's rich cultural heritage.

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