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Three Thousand Languages in Danger of Disappearing

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:48:02 ( 1034 reads )


PARIS, FRANCE, February 20, 2002: About half of the world's 6,000 languages are under threat of disappearing under pressure from more dominant tongues or repressive government policies, a new study says. From France and Russia to the Americas and Australia, minority languages and the heritage that goes along with them are at risk of dying out, according to a UNESCO study to be released Thursday. "With the death and disappearance of a language, an irreplaceable unit in our knowledge and understanding of human thought and world-view is lost forever," said a statement by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The 90 page study, "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing," said the Americas and Australia had the worst record. "In the United States, less than 150 Indian languages have survived out of several hundreds that were spoken before the arrival of the Europeans." According to the study, a native language can disappear when its speakers relocate and are required to speak the dominant tongue to get a job and function in the new society, or because they confront a more aggressive or economically stronger culture. Widespread bilingual or multilingual government policies on the Indian subcontinent have helped keep local languages alive there.

Hindus Celebrate Saraswati Puja in Bangladesh

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:47:02 ( 1005 reads )


CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH, February 19, 2002: The Hindu community celebrated the Saraswati Puja in the port city of Chittagong on Sunday. Students especially paid homage to Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and learning, at the different puja mondops, temporary temples. Parents also honored the Goddess for the bright academic future of their sons and daughters. The devotees gathered at the pavilion for worship in the morning. In the evening they arranged a "priti sommilon" and cultural program and worshipped at the JM Sen Hall, Deyanji Pukur Lane, Jamal Khan, Pathargata, Agrabad, Nandankanan, Ghatforharbad, Chawkbazar, and Teribaza mondops in the city.

Hindus in East Java Honor Departed Souls

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:46:02 ( 1159 reads )

Source: Jakarta Post

PROLINGGO, EAST JAVA, February 16, 2002: Hindus in East Java perform a cremation ritual that helps the soul who has made their transition reach heaven. The ritual is similar to one practiced by Balinese Hindus. In the ritual, small statues made of leaves and flowers are created to represent the deceased person. Offerings are made while traditional priests called Dukuns chant special prayers to expedite the soul's journey to heaven. After the ceremony the soul of the dead person is purified. Out of love for the pre-deceased family member, many families perform the entas-entas more than once for the same cherished soul.

Cleaning up the River Ganga

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:45:02 ( 1123 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 16, 2002: The sacred river Ganga which flows more than 2,500 kilometers through India is in dire need of attention. According to this article pollution levels at certain ritual bathing areas are 3,000 times the level safe for human beings. Two organizations, one headquartered in India called the Campaign for a Clean Ganges, and one London-based organization called the Thames 21, have collaborated to make steps to the solve the problem. Thames 21 has experience in this area from working to clean up the River Thames in southern England. Mark Lloyd of Thames 21 said, "Interim measures such as banning the use of plastic bags and stopping the dumping of human and animal carcasses into the river could lessen its pollution." Leading the Campaign for a Clean Ganges, Mr. Shantanu Misra has proposed an economical and safe system to initiate a clean-up on the River Ganga that flows through Varanasi. The system called Advanced Integrated Wastewater Oxidation Pond system has been used successfully in the U.S. Simply stated the plan moves sewage, pesticides, heavy metals and other impurities by the force of gravity into ponds where the water can be treated.

Hindus Arrested Over Church Attack

Posted on 2002/2/21 8:44:02 ( 1091 reads )


MYSORE, KARNATAKA, SOUTH INDIA, February 20, 2002: Police in the southern Indian city of Mysore have arrested nine members of the hardline Hindu group Bajrang Dal in connection with an attack on a church. Police said activists attacked the church at Hitkal village and assaulted worshippers during Sunday prayers. They said the men demanded the priest end alleged efforts to convert local villagers, who are mainly Hindu, to Christianity. The Karnataka Home Minister M Kharge said police protection had been given to churches in the area following the attack. Bajrang Dal has denied that any of its members were involved in the attack. A spokesman for the group said he attack was a result of local resentment against the issue of conversion.

Lord Ganesha Icon Kicked in NBC Episode of "Friends"

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:49:02 ( 1209 reads )

Source: HPI

USA, February 18, 2002: Readers have complained to HPI about the January 31st episode of the NBC hit series, "Friends." One report reads, "I was watching the latest episode of 'Friends' in NBC. There was a scene, in which Ross and his girl friend were sitting in a sofa, Ross explains the 'Lord Ganesh' is an artifact from Calcutta. And all of a sudden the lady (accidentally) kicks the 'Lord Ganesh Idol.' I felt that the episode director deliberately put that scene there though that scene doesn't help the story in any way. Can we do any thing about this incident of hurting 'Hindu sentiments'?" The incident is reminiscent of singer Sinead O'Conner tearing up a picture of the Pope, October 3, 1992, on "Saturday Night Live." She did it because she believed conservative Catholicism hurt the women of Ireland. There was an international outcry from Catholics over the incident, and O'Conner later apologized. Non-Hindus don't normally understand that touching anything with the feet is considered extremely disrespectful, akin to spitting in someone's face. Even an accidental touch of another person with one's foot would result in profuse apologies. For a plot summary of this episode of "Friends," visit http://www.nbc.com/Friends/episode_guide/119.html.

Hindu Activist Will Address Interfaith Assembly

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:48:02 ( 1019 reads )


TEANECK, NEW JERSEY, February 15, 2002: A Hindu swami known as an activist for the poor and as a critic of religious fundamentalism will address the annual Interfaith Brotherhood/sisterhood breakfast on Monday at the Marriott Glenpointe hotel in Teaneck. Swami Agnivesh, chairman of a United Nations trust fund on slavery, will speak about "Interfaith Cooperation as a Means to Social Justice" at the Presidents' Day breakfast. A former member of the Legislature and minister of education in Haryana, India, the swami is also critical of development that brings consumerism and allows Western world market forces to draw profits from developing countries. He has also opposed the caste system and championed the rights of women to participate in economic and political life in India. The interfaith breakfast, on Presidents' Day each year, has become a major gathering place for those interested in improving relations between religious groups.

Police Say Hindu Extremists Attack Church

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:47:02 ( 1035 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, February 17, 2002: About 50 Hindus attacked a Roman Catholic church in southern India on Sunday and injured several worshippers, police said. V.V. Bhaskar, the police chief in the city of Mysore, declined to say how many people were hurt in the attack. The assailants threw stones at the church, angry at what they said were efforts to convert local villagers, who are mainly Hindus, Bhaskar said. Some Hindu groups have accused church officials of trying to attract poor Hindus with promises of money and jobs.

Five Thousands Couples Get Married in Delhi in One Day

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:46:02 ( 1219 reads )

Source: Sandhya Times (Hindi)

DELHI, INDIA, February 18, 2002: It was Vasant Panchami. On this auspicious occasion, millions of dollars were spent on around five thousand marriages held in Delhi. Traffic was snarled all over Delhi as a result. The cost of each marriage ran from US$5,000 up to $32,000. Marriages -- and traffic jams -- will continue through the auspicious days of February 19, 21, 22, 23 and 24, and continue through March 5. Overwhelmed parking attendants at the thousands of marriage venues are duped by car thieves during the festivities, causing a significant jump in the number of auto thefts.

Nepal Rebels Mount Devastating Attacks

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:45:02 ( 966 reads )


NEPAL, February 18, 2002: About 100 people have been killed in two separate but simultaneous attacks by Maoist rebels on government installations in western Nepal. The victims of the raids on two towns in the remote district of Achham included police officers, soldiers and local government officials. The BBC's Daniel Lak says the scale and ferocity of the attacks go beyond anything the rebels have carried out previously in six years of conflict. The Nepalese cabinet has convened an emergency meeting to discuss the situation. The rebels are seeking to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy.

Delhi Parents and Teachers Oppose Corporal Punishment

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:44:02 ( 1021 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 12 2002: Corporal punishment may well be commonplace in schools, but teachers and academicians in their role as parents, strongly denounce the practice. This is the latest in a series of articles in the Hindustan Times denouncing corporal punishment. Vibha Parthasarthy, ex-principal of Sardar Patel Vidyalaya and ex-president of the National Commission for Women says she has never hit her children. "Punishment should not rob a child of his dignity and instill fear in him or her. I've dealt with a lot of stubborn children. Beating them only makes them more stubborn," she says. Professor A N Maheswari, chairperson of the National Council for Teacher Education, says that he has never beaten his only daughter. "Hitting children is an abominable act because the child cannot retaliate at that time," he says. On the training imparted to teachers to deal with difficult behavior, he says that dealing with children comes with empathy that comes from one's cultural values. Dr Samir Parikh, a psychiatrist, says that he would never resort to physical abuse. This kind of punishment is dependent on the discretion of a human being rather than the mistake of a child, he says. Since they are the only ones that do not vote, that explains the apathy towards this issue, he adds.

Hindu Temple Next to Christian Church in Fiji Attacked

Posted on 2002/2/18 8:43:02 ( 959 reads )

Source: Sun

LABASA, FIJI, February 7, 2002: Police have interviewed some church members of Wamikoro town over their alleged involvement in desecrating a Hindu temple next to their church. The Sun reported last week that the temple, next to a Pentecostal church, was vandalized when its door was forced open and pictures of Deities removed from large frames and destroyed. A member of the church said the temple in question was believed to be on land recently bought by the church and that was why the church members were angry. "One day some church members went into the temple to clean it, with the view of removing the temple," this church member told the Sun. When this member asked the attackers why they had done such a thing, they said that the church did not believe in such religions and they wanted all things to do with it removed from their church grounds. The police have not confirmed this account.

Terrorists Kill Eight Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir

Posted on 2002/2/17 8:49:02 ( 988 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

JAMMU, INDIA, February 17, 2002: Terrorists shot dead eight Hindus and injured six others in a village in Rajouri district last night, an official spokesman said here today. Terrorists swooped on Nirala village in Dharamsal area of the district and fired on the minority community members, he said. A police team and security personnel have rushed to the village.

Scarcity of Kumkum Lamented

Posted on 2002/2/17 8:48:02 ( 1067 reads )


MANGALORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA, February 13, 2002: Even with so many temples and religious festivals, Karnataka State has yet to achieve self-sufficiency in sacred kumkum, the red powder used in worship. It is traditionally made of tumeric powder and lime, but many chemical imitations have appeared, some of them harmful to the body. The kumkum sold in the state comes from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Nagpur. "All red you see is not kumkum," warned Anand from Theerthalli based NGO "Krishi Prayoga Parivar." He was participating in a workshop organized by Sahithya Kendra. "Today the kumkum available in homes, monasteries and temples is impure." Kumkum is not merely decorative, but sacred of the scared, "Mangala Dravyas," which ensures the balance of cosmic energy in human body, he added. Anand declared that except Shringeri Mutt, pure kumkum is not available anywhere. Shri Ragheshwar Bharati Swamy of Ramachandrapura Mutt in Hosnagar extended support to the campaign by producing kumkum in the traditional manner, he said.

South India Conference Protests Revised School Books

Posted on 2002/2/17 8:47:02 ( 1006 reads )

Source: The Hindu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, February 12, 2002: The 29th all-India conference of Dravidian Linguistics which drew to a close here today has urged India's government to scrap any move to include in the country's standard school curriculum the theory that the Indus Valley civilization was of the Aryans and not of the Dravidians. In a resolution adopted unanimously at the valedictory function of the conference, it was pointed out that such moves went in letter and spirit against the accepted and well-established objective views of impartial historians and archaeologists. History, like any other scientific discipline, should be studied on the basis of considerations that were basically academic and objective and certainly not communal and political, which would jeopardize any serious and meaningful academic pursuit in the country. Furthermore, the theory recently put forward on the Indus Valley civilization was highly unscientific and whimsical, the resolution said. The conference wanted the Centre to give Dravidian South its rightful and legitimate share in the history books and to withdraw the new syllabus prepared and published recently by the NCERT, which negated national unity and integration. In another resolution, the conference appealed to the Centre not to ignore the Dravidian languages while extending financial assistance to living Indian languages. It was further demanded that Tamil, the oldest of the Dravidian languages, be declared a Classical language in view of its historicity and hoary past.

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