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Assisi Congregation Gets Vegetarian Lunch

Posted on 2002/1/26 8:47:02 ( 1023 reads )

Source: Press Reports

ASSISI, ITALY, January 25, 2002: Pope John Paul II welcomed representatives of 12 religions to a vegetarian lunch in the Apostolic Palace today, calling them "friends" united in a "commitment to the cause of peace." The Roman Catholic pontiff offered lunch to the more than 200 men and women from throughout the world who had joined him Thursday on a pilgrimage to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. Only five Hindus were included in the gathering, even though one in six people today is a Hindu. There were 100 Christians, 11 Jews, 31 Muslims, 32 Buddhists and ten Sikhs. So as not to offend against the dietary laws of any religion, the Vatican served the religious leaders a vegetarian meal with no alcohol and no cream for the dessert, but the menu was mainly Italian. Each of the religions was sent to separate places in Assisi for a prayer session. The Catholics are forbidden from holding common worship with other religions in a way which might imply any equality of faiths.

Canadian Scientist Reaches out Globally to Teach Food Preservation

Posted on 2002/1/26 8:46:02 ( 972 reads )


MONTREAL, CANADA, January 14, 2002: With a philosophy that is all encompassing, Vijaya Raghavan teaches his students at McGill University, "We are on a globe in the universe and it is our duty to be helpful to others." From humble beginnings as the son of a silk factory worker in India, Vijaya teaches agriculture engineering and has been in North America since 1969. Working in the specialty of post harvest control, Raghavan has researched ways to control the 25-30% rate of spoilage that plagues most perishable crops grown in India and China. Having received almost 19 million dollars worth of grant money in the course of his career, Raghavan has introduced low-cost techniques to prevent food spoilage. These techniques are three-fold and include the following: 1. Osmotic Drying - -Fruits are soaked in a sugar solution to remove moisture before they are stored. 2. Micowave Drying -- Food is dehydrated in an oven which reduces the drying time by more than half. 3. Silicone membranes are used on the mouth of storage containers to slow down oxygen exposure and the resultant decay. With the movement of products in the global market in the last decade, Raghavan sees a huge potential for India in exporting fruits when his techniques are used to keep food fresh. He points out that the beloved mango is now readily available for purchase all year long in Montreal.

Status Quo For Batu Caves After Cabinet Intervenes

Posted on 2002/1/25 8:49:02 ( 911 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, Wednesday 23, 2001: The Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry of Malaysia has decided to revert to the old postal code for Batu Caves after the issue was brought up at the cabinet meeting today. MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said Minister Datuk Amar Leo Moggie had agreed to the reversal as the issue had touched the sensitivities of many Indians around the country and also because the name Batu Caves held much historical significance. The Batu Caves area will now have the postal code 68100 Batu Caves instead of 68100 Selayang. Batu Caves is well known among locals and tourists as the annual Thaipusam festival is celebrated grandly at the Hindu temple there. More than 1.2 million people are expected to converge here for the festival, which falls on Monday.

Pilgrims in Kerala Discouraged by Traffic

Posted on 2002/1/25 8:48:02 ( 967 reads )


KERALA, INDIA, January 18, 2002: Tis the season for Ayyappa devotees to make their annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala. Most pilgrims partake in the festivities on Makaravilakku when the Ayyappa Murthi is dressed in traditional attire and a divine light appears on top of the hill. In an effort to control the flow of traffic, the government prohibited private vehicles from parking within 22 kilometers of the pilgrimage spot. Devotees were assured that they would be able to catch a bus back to their vehicles after the festivities. However very few buses were available and some anxious pilgrims handled the situation by damaging vehicles and government cabins. Chief police W. Joseph Dawsa said, "The sudden rush of pilgrims appeared to have generated difficulties." Two inspectors posted at Sabarimala said, "The Central Government's refusal to give forest land for parking vehicles at Pampa was at the cause of the traffic problem in Sabarimala." Most devotees wait until the last day of the two-month long pilgrimage and this further contributes to the traffic problem.

NGOs Leave Kutch

Posted on 2002/1/25 8:47:02 ( 910 reads )

Source: Times News Network

BHUJ, GUJARAT, January 24, 2002: Soon after the killer quake on January 26 last year, as talk of rehabilitation of Kutch began, non-government organizations (NGOs) started to be mentioned as the "prime movers'' for this purpose. But a year later, the NGO experiment in rebuilding Kutch has been, at best, a mixed success. Though 64 NGOs, including a number of religious organization, are working in Kutch (76 in the entire state), a large number of them have abandoned their plans and have gone away. "To start with, they did not realize that rehabilitation is a complex process and involves more than just constructing houses,'' says Maheswar Sahu, chief executive officer of Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA). "After initial surveys, they realized that they did not have the requisite experience.'' Also funding was growing scarce, another factor in the rebuilding of Kutch.

Atlanta Indian Professionals Network

Posted on 2002/1/25 8:46:02 ( 996 reads )


ATLANTA, USA, January 23, 2002: Indian American and other interested professionals, particularly those based in Atlanta, are invited to join for free the Indian Professionals Network. For additional information go to "source" above. The website includes extensive information on local religious organizations and events.

Makar Sankranti Mela Celebrated in Nepal

Posted on 2002/1/24 8:49:02 ( 943 reads )


NEPAL, INDIA, January 14, 2002: The Makar Sankranti Mela attracted a record-breaking crowd during the week long celebrations. Pilgrimaging to Barkune Taal, each devotee took a holy bath at the Tapta Kund ( Dharma Kund) of Rihaar for in the fulfillment of his wishes. Facilities were made available for pilgrims visiting the Mela and the Bagarbaba religious area development committee has coordinated efforts to develop Rihaar as a tourist place. Elsewhere in Nepal at Kathmandu, Makar Sankranti was celebrated by honoring the contributions made by the Mithila culture to the state of Nepal.

UK Ethnic Radio Bans Calling People "Asian"

Posted on 2002/1/24 8:48:02 ( 905 reads )

Source: Press Trust of India

LONDON, ENGLAND, January 23, 2002: Britain's leading radio station for ethnic minorities is to ban the term "Asian" from its news bulletins following allegations from a majority of UK-based Hindus and Sikhs that "Muslims are bringing the Asian community into disrepute in Britain and do not want to be put in the same bracket as them." Sunrise Radio said that its non-Muslim audience no longer wanted to be associated with Muslims and were keen for the station to differentiate between different religions and countries of origin. Avtar Lit, Sunrise chief executive, said: "In the wake of September 11 and also following the race riots last year we have had a lot of calls from Sikhs and Hindus worried that in the eyes of many people, the word 'Asian' links them to events involving Muslims. " Sunrise Radio, an independent station, broadcasts to more than one million listeners from its stations in London, West Midlands and Scotland. Its ban, expected to come into effect in about two months after a consultation process, highlights the tensions felt within ethnic communities across Britain. "Asian" as used in the US is a very broad term. It includes Indians, Southeast Asians, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians, Filipinos, and others. It was brought into popular use to replace the offensive term "oriental."

Dalai Lama's Illness, Security Concerns Cancel Buddhist Festival

Posted on 2002/1/24 8:47:02 ( 1078 reads )

Source: Press Trust of India

JAYA, INDIA, January 24, 2002: The ten-day Kalchakra festival, organized in the face of threat by ultra organizations to blow up the Buddhist monastery, was on Thursday postponed midway with the Dalai Lama announcing that he was unable to deliver a long spiritual speech on account of illness. The festival opened on January 21. The Dalai Lama, who was to deliver his speech on Thursday, left the venue just after 15 minutes with the announcement that he won't be able to do so as his health did not permit a long oration. Subsequent police reports indicated security was also the major concern. The Kalchakra is the largest congregation of Buddhists from around the world. This year's Kalchakra was significant as it was being held after 15 years at Bodh Gaya -- the place Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.

Jewish Group Downplays Number of Buddhists, Hindus

Posted on 2002/1/24 8:46:02 ( 954 reads )


USA, January 23, 2002: A new report sponsored by the American Jewish Committee downplays the growth of minority faiths in the United States, saying they have generated more interest and pop culture buzz than actual adherents. The report follows a controversial study by the same author, Tom Smith, last October that downplayed the number of Muslims in America. Smith estimated a total of 1.9 million Muslims, far less than the 6 million figure frequently cited by Muslim groups. In the new report, Smith pulls together various surveys to estimate that there are 1.4 million Buddhists and between 800,000 and 1.1 million Hindus in the United States. He said some figures have created "an impression of prominence beyond the actual size of these groups." These numbers have important political ramifications, which is why the Muslims in America complained about Smith's figure of 1.9 million. Because the US census cannot ask about religion, there is no way to reliably count the number of adherents to any particular religion in the US. Telephone polls tend to undercount minorities, some of whom refuse to answer what they believe to be a government interrogation.

Hindus Throng Temple In Johor Baru, Malaysia

Posted on 2002/1/23 8:49:02 ( 995 reads )

Source: New Straits Times

JOHOR BARU, MALAYSIA, January 20, 2002: More than 25,000 Hindus, including many from Singapore, converged at the 50-year-old Sri Muniswarar temple in Tampoi, to witness the third Asthabhanthana Maha Kumbabishegam (consecration ceremony) here this morning. Kuala Lumpur-based priest, R. Krishnamurthy Gurukkal, was invited to perform the Mahayagam (fire sacrifice) as part of the worship of the temple's three deities -- Sri Muniswarar, Sri Murugan and Lord Ganesha. In a three-hour ceremony, Krishnamurthy, assisted by 27 priests, chanted a series of mantras to cleanse the temple of negative vibrations and bestow spiritual radiance. Temple building committee chairman S. Munusamy said a unique feature of the newly-renovated temple was the crafting of over 200 statues at the temple by 11 foreign experts led by T. Muthu, from Madurai, South India.

Temple Desecrated Near Virajpet

Posted on 2002/1/23 8:48:02 ( 890 reads )


MADIKERI, INDIA, January 21, 2001: Miscreants desecrated a small shrine dedicated to Bhadrakali in Betoli village near Virajpet in Dakshina Kodagu. The main door of the sanctum sanctorum was broken, and the temple kitchen was set on fire. A major portion of the kitchen has been reduced to ashes. The incident came to light when the temple priest opened the door the following morning. Immediately the news was communicated to the village elders, who in turn informed the police. A dog squad led the police to the residence of an auto driver. The police expect to solve the case with this initial breakthrough. Slogans against one particular community have been written over the pillars.

Judge Says Judo Bow Does Not Violate Religious Freedom

Posted on 2002/1/23 8:47:02 ( 1107 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON, January 23, 2002: Bowing to a picture of the founder of judo before a match is not a violation of a individual's religious freedom, a federal judge ruled on Jan. 10. This interesting case could have implications for other situations, such as may occur in the teaching of yoga. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik rejected the argument of three judo contestants who said the customary bow violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it discriminates on the basis of religion, according to the Associated Press. James Akiyama, 17, and his sister, Leilani Akiyama, 14, contested the practice along with Jay Drangeid. Drangeid said in the suit that his refusal to bow is based on his personal Christian, religious belief that bowing to a "thing" or a "place" is prohibited by the Bible. Jim Bregman, president of the U.S. Judo Association, said he was "very pleased" with the decision. "It's clear the bow in judo is simply a respectful act, like a handshake in wrestling." John Holm, who operates the U.S. Judo Training Center in Renton, Washington, said other families are affected by the ruling. "We have a half-dozen Muslim kids who want to compete in the state championships coming up January 26, and they can't compete because of their religious beliefs," he told the Associated Press. In the suit one of the Muslim participants said he believes that the Koran prohibits bowing to anything or to anyone other than Allah.

Tamil Nadu Says 'No" To Hindi In Schools

Posted on 2002/1/23 8:46:02 ( 347 reads )

Source: Times of India

CHENNAI, INDIA, January 21, 2002: The Tamil Nadu government's educational policy would only allow a two-language formula in school education and the recommendation for a three-language formula in the curriculum made by National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) will not be accepted by the State, education Minister M Thambidurai said today. The State government had no objection if anyone wanted to learn Hindi on their own. "The problem is that as far as Hindi is concerned it does not serve any purpose for Tamilians except for getting into the Central Services," he said. Starting Hindi medium schools and reserving job opportunities only to the Hindi-knowing community would result in the death of regional languages, Thambidurai said and added that Tamil Nadu would not allow such things to happen at any cost. Tamils are especially concerned that children be able to read the extensive Tamil religious literature. Regarding the need for English medium schools, he said that English was a window to the world community to understand modern science and technological changes.

Genetically Modified Food Firms Head For Asian Markets

Posted on 2002/1/23 8:45:02 ( 975 reads )

Source: Source: The Hindu

BANGALORE, INDIA, JANUARY 18, 2002: Opposition to genetically modified (GM) food is strong in Europe and the U.S., which accounts for 70 per cent of all GM crops grown, due to concerns on effects on health and environment. This leaves the agri-biotech companies focusing on Asia to expand their markets, says Sue Mayer, Director of GeneWatch, an NGO in the U.K. Dr. Mayer, who was part of the British delegation which participated in the recent India-U.K. Science Festival, says the developments in Europe and the U.S. have a bearing on the future of GM crops in Asia. While no new GM foods were given approval for cultivation, import, or consumption in the year 2000 in Europe, India will soon see large-scale commercialization of Bt cotton (Monsanto's transgenic cotton variety, said to have pest resistance). India is "strategically important" to Monsanto for cotton, says Dr. Mayer. "India, Indonesia, China and Thailand are among the Asian countries that are very important to GM food companies." While GM crops are selling in the U.S., there is evidence that resistance is growing, especially in the absence of a strong monitoring system. This was demonstrated when StarLink, a GM maize variety approved only for animal feed, was found in taco shells meant for human consumption, leading to massive recalls of the contaminated food.

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