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Earthquake-Damaged Bhadreshwar Jain Temple Demolished in Gujarat

Posted on 2002/7/28 9:47:02 ( 1112 reads )


BHUJ, GUJARAT, INDIA, July 22, 2002: The world-famous Jain Temple of Bhadreshwar has been completely demolished because the structure was considered unsafe due to the extensive damage from last January's earthquake. The main temple, which was nearly 2,500 years old, used to attract people from all over the country. "It is shocking not only for Jains but everybody in Kutch," says Vanechand Mulchand Doshi, the manager of the Seth Vardhman Kalyanji Trust, which manages the Bhadreshwar Temple. The demolition work has been completed and temporary arrangement has been made from where pilgrims can take darshan of Mul Nayak Mahaveer Bhagwan and Parasnath. Fortunately, over 146 icons, most of them between 500 years and 2500 years old could be saved and all have been temporarily housed. Despite the fact that the temple does not exist, pilgrims have been pouring in from across the country. The Bhadreshwar Temple Managing Committee has been working on a project to reconstruct the Temple. The project would cost over US$3 million.

India's Jews Find Their Roots

Posted on 2002/7/28 9:46:02 ( 1093 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, July 20, 2002: More than 2,000 years after they first claimed to have set foot in India, the mystery of the world's most obscure Jewish community -- the Marathi-speaking, Bene Israel -- may finally have been solved with genetic carbon-dating revealing they carry the unusual "Moses" gene that would make them, literally, the original children of Israel. Four years of DNA tests on the 4,000-strong Bene Israel, now mainly based in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Ahmedabad, indicates they are probable descendants of a small group of hereditary Israelite priests or Cohanim. Tudor Parfitt, Jewish Studies professor at London's School of Oriental and African Studies, who initiated and led the research, says this is the first concrete proof that "exiles from Palestine made it as far as India and managed to maintain Judaism in the sea of Hinduism and Islam". Their Indian appearance, cricket-playing, sari-wearing, curry-eating and Marathi-speaking habits led to a bitter battle for recognition as "real Jews" and for years they were not allowed to emigrate to Israel.

Labour MPs to Visit Gujarat; VHP Flexes Muscles

Posted on 2002/7/28 9:45:02 ( 969 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, JULY 21, 2002: As an indication of their intense and continuing interest in the aftermath of the Gujarat violence, eight MPs of Britain's governing Labour Party have said they will visit the state to get "a clearer picture of the situation on the ground." MPs, who include some from Muslim constituencies, such as Terry Rooney of Bradford and Fabian Hamilton of Leeds, have dismissed the Indian government's oft-stated concern that British politicians are making domestic capital out of foreign issues, with one eye on the Muslim votebank. In March, India criticised the British High Commission's leaked report into the Gujarat violence and asked other countries to mind their own business. But Rooney, who announced the MPs' forthcoming visit at a 400-strong public meeting in Bradford late on Saturday, told TNN the new fact-finding mission to India was an expression of "concern about human rights." He said, "The Indian government always churns out such nonsense when anyone wants to visit from anywhere. They should know that people do care about human rights abuses. One has to ask, why are the Indian government is so afraid. Perhaps they do have something to hide." Perhaps after the next race riot involving Hindus and Muslims in the UK, the Indian government can send a fact-finding mission itself.

"In Defence of the Hindu Society" by Sri Sita Ram Goel Now On-Line

Posted on 2002/7/28 9:44:02 ( 1197 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, July 28, 2002: Noted writer Sita Ram Goel's important book, "In Defence of the Hindu Society," is now available on-line at "source." An excerpt: "But my heart bleeds when I see this great society being attacked by sheer barbarians whose only weapon is either a criminal theology masquerading as religion, or a materialist dogma sustained by the lowest in human nature, or a phony modernism parroting the latest slogans from the West. My mind is deeply disturbed when I witness the leaders of this great society going on the defensive in the face of wanton aggression from inhuman ideologies whose only stock in-trade is self-righteous spite. I fail to understand the selective journalism which spotlights only the atrocities on Harijans when statistics go to show that caste Hindus provide many more victims to violence in our countryside, which plays up only stories of bride-burning without caring to find out what is happening to old parents in many modern homes under the spell of an imported culture which places a premium on what is described as youth, which accuses Hindu organizations of aggression in every communal strife without investigating the hard facts about provocation from the so-called minorities, and which, in short, replaces serious debate on every subject with a few mindless cliches -- reactionary and progressive, right and left, capitalist and socialist, revivalist and modern, communal and secular, and so on."

Puja and Sanskrit Workshops in UK

Posted on 2002/7/28 9:43:02 ( 1050 reads )


UNITED KINGDOM, July 28, 2002: Dr. Shastry will conduct a workshop on the Hindu way of daily worship. This workshop will help one to do daily pujas, worship ceremonies, on one's own. It is being held at the Hindu Mandir, 2, Lady Margaret Road, Southall, Middlesex, UK, August 17 to 18, 2002 from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. For more information, e-mail "source" above. A conversational Sanskrit workshop is scheduled for August 23 to 26, 2002, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 4, Castletown Road, West Kensington, London, W14 9HQ, UK. For more information, e-mail info@bhavan.net.

India's Outgoing President Pleads for Tolerance

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:49:02 ( 1030 reads )


NEW DELHI, July 24, 2002: In his farewell address to the nation as President, K. R. Narayanan made an appeal to Hindus to rekindle the tradition of tolerance. "It is up to our social and political leaders to present the people with the idiom of unity based on religious tolerance and communal and social amity that are intertwined with the teachings of Vivekananada, Gandhi and Nehru," he said. "My parting appeal to you, dear citizens of this proud and tolerant Republic of India, is to guard our tradition of tolerance, for that is the soul of our culture and civilization, the spirit of our constitution and the secret of the successful working of our democracy," he said. The outgoing President also spoke about his successor, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, in glowing terms, describing him as a distinguished scientist, scholar and humanist.

Nun in Jail on Charges of Illegal Conversion

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:48:02 ( 1104 reads )


RAIPUR, INDIA, July 21, 2002: Christian bodies in Ambikapur, district headquarters of Sarguja, observed a general strike in missionary schools protesting against the conviction and jailing of a nun on charges of illegal conversion. The Shiv Sena and the BJP called the strike -- organized to express solidarity with nun Vrishi Ekka -- a provocative step. They also organized counter-demonstrations. The nun is now in jail, serving a six-month term. Police had to step in to restore order in the town, arresting nearly a dozen protesters and keeping a close watch on the situation which remains tense. The action against Ekka and L. Birje, a local priest now dead, was registered in 1994 when 94 people from 19 Hindu families converted to Christianity. They were charged under Section 5 of the Madhya Pradesh State Dharm Swatantra Adhiniyam, 1968. In 1996, the nun along with the priest were convicted by a lower court and sentenced to six months imprisonment and imposed to pay a fine of US$10.20. Ekka filed an appeal and was out on bail. Last week the Ambikapur court upheld the lower court order, and she was remanded to custody.

Indian TV Features Newest Reality Show: Arranged Marriages

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:47:02 ( 1055 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, July 20, 2002: Indian television is launching a reality show which will arrange marriages for potential brides. "Kahin naa Kahin koi hai" takes viewers through the entire journey as the bride meets prospective grooms and their families, gets to know them and selects a spouse. Beginning July 29, the show will be hosted by veteran film actress Madhuri Dixit. "It is a show about real people and their dreams," she said. The program will have no pre-written dialogue. The potential bride's family will be asked to give a wish-list which will be matched with a huge data bank of prospective grooms, built up over two years. Though the actual wedding will not take place on television, the couple will exchange rings and garlands in the studio. Sony has already filmed 11 brides choosing their grooms. It is prepared to film more if the programs prove popular. "We will wait to see public reaction," said Sony Entertainment Television's chief executive Kunal Dasgupta. "Indians are basically very shy," says Indu Mirani the associate editor of film magazine, Box Office. "They do not appreciate intrusion in their personal lives." While the debate continues, it is ultimately the viewers who will decide whether or not the marriage show succeeds.

Better Health Outcomes for Patients with Doctors Who Support Religious Beliefs and Practices

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:46:02 ( 1086 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

DURHAM, USA, July 24 2002: The Journal of the American Medical Association published a major article illustrating the potent effect health professionals can have by addressing a patient's spiritual needs. The study provides evidence that people with strong religious beliefs and practices cope better with illness, are able to decrease chronic pain intensity, speed recovery from depression and enjoy better health outcomes. The study demonstrates the effect of a patient's spiritual beliefs on his health and the need for health professionals to identify their patient's spiritual needs. A more controversial activity is praying with patients. This case study suggests that when patients feel overwhelmed by anxiety and depression because of their health situation, their religious beliefs and practices provide them with an indirect form of control that helps interrupt these feelings. Physicians should respect and support the beliefs that help their patients cope, ensure that their spiritual needs are met when they are hospitalized, and be aware that religion is likely to influence their medical decisions. For physicians who are interested in helping their patients cope spiritually with serious medical illness, this study points to the potential far-reaching, positive consequences of relationships between mental health, strong faith, devout prayer and religious socialization. The study illustrates how health professionals can support patients who pray and practice other religious activities that are associated with better coping, less depression, more social support and better health outcomes.

The "Hugging Saint" Makes First Stop in Rural America

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:45:02 ( 1026 reads )


MOUNT PLEASANT, IOWA, USA, July 7, 2002: Mata Amritanandamayi opened her arms to Iowa, deep in America's heartland, and continued to receive amazingly positive press reports such as this one in the Desmoines Register. In the gym at Iowa Wesleyan College, more than 1,000 men, women and children waited hours for their turn to receive a comforting, two-armed embrace from the "the hugging saint," also known as Ammachi or "Mother of Immortal Bliss." Amma has said she realized as a young mystic in India that a simple hug was an expression of love so many yearned for but rarely received. Hundreds of people sat on their heels on the floor, listening to Indian music piped through several speakers. Everyone's focus, however, was on Amma, sitting on a chair at the front of the room, surrounded by volunteers. Supplicants who were physically able made their way up the long line on their knees. When they reached Amma, she greeted them each with a warm smile. Some sobbed openly as they were held. Others just closed their eyes and smiled. After receiving a hug, each person was showered with rose petals and given a chocolate kiss. And that was it. Bill and Joan Brady, both 55, traveled from St. Louis with their grandson Joseph Brady, 5, to get a hug from Amma. Although they know Amma is likely to be viewed as an exotic oddity by many Iowans, the Bradys said her message is very universal. "It's no different than what we try to teach our grandson," Joan Brady said. "That's to be a loving person and share that with everyone." "She's not encouraging people in any religious path," a volunteer said. "She's really encouraging them to go deeper into their own path."

Pilgrims Make Amarnath Trek Despite Terrorist Threats

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:44:02 ( 1094 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, July 19, 2002: Amidst reports that splinter groups of Pakistan-based militant outfits were planning to sabotage the Amarnath yatra, the first batch of Amarnath-bound pilgrims left under tight security for Nunwan near Pahalgam, base camp to the holy cave shrine. The batch, comprising 2,681 pilgrims will offer prayers inside the holy cave at a height of 3,952 meters in south Kashmir on July 22. Security agencies brought up the rear, head and even the middle portion of the 131-vehicle convoy. Hours before the yatra was officially flagged off, security forces arrested three militants of the Hizb-e-Islami and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Speaking about the unprecedented arrangements, IGP Jammu zone, P.L. Gupta, said security was tighter than previous years because of reports that splinter militant groups would target the yatra.

UK Teacher Honored With Hindu Name

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:43:02 ( 950 reads )


LEICESTER, UK, July 22, 2002: A newly retired Leicester head teacher has been honored with a new name by the renowned Hindu singer and preacher, Rameshbhai Oza, after helping to stage a massive religious festival in the city. Former Rushey Mead School head Steve White now answers to the name "Shiv" in honor of the Hindu deity Shiva. Mr. White was given the title at yesterday's closing ceremony of the 10-day Atma Shanti Katha -- or Hindu recital, a combination of preaching, devotional singing and scriptural recitation -- which attracted an estimated 80,000 people to the school grounds last week. Rameshbhai Oza presented the new name to Mr. White in front of 10,000 people. Mr. White said he was still deciding whether to use Shiv as his first name or as part of his title. He said, "It is a great honor to have this honor bestowed on me." "Out of the blue I had a phone call on Sunday morning from the organizers asking me to be there. When I got there the holy man called me over and announced his thanks for my support and said my new name was Shiv. It's a fantastic retirement present."

Khajuraho-Style Icons Set for Export Seized in India

Posted on 2002/7/27 9:42:02 ( 1046 reads )


JODHPUR, INDIA, July 25, 2002: Over 150 idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses resembling the erotic Khajuraho murals and meant for export to United Kingdom have been seized by customs department in Jodhpur, official sources said on Thursday. The statues, included 95 of Lord Ganesha, were seized from a railway container depot, they said. The sources said the statues, each five to six inches tall, were made with a "Khajuraho touch" to attract foreign buyers. Investigations had revealed that a Delhi-based firm had concealed the statues, worth US$10,200, with other handicraft items for shipping abroad, the sources said. Customs officials said trade in statues in such poses had probably been going on for a long time as there was a demand for them in UK and other European countries.

Disciples Worldwide Remember Gurus on Purnima

Posted on 2002/7/26 9:49:02 ( 1157 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 25, 2002: All over India, and throughout the world, satsangs, devotional gatherings, marked Guru Purnima celebrations on Wednesday, the full-moon day in July. Disciples offered prayers to their gurus, with many observing fasts as well. The Sant Sri Asaram Ashram reported a gathering of 50,000 devotees in Delhi alone. Members of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Foundation offered guru puja in 140 countries.

Interfaith Alliance Calls for Reports on Religion and Politics in US

Posted on 2002/7/26 9:48:02 ( 943 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 2002: The Interfaith Alliance Foundation here has started a program entitled, "Use of Religion in Campaigns Monitoring Network." They want to "identify and catalog the uses and abuses of religion in this year's national, state and local races" for political office. They ask for anyone encountering what they consider "exploitation of religion" to file a report through their website at "source" above.

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