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Pondicherry Prisoners Complain of Forced Conversions in Jail

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:48:02 ( 985 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, March 31, 2002: The Pondicherry government has ordered an inquiry into alleged forced conversions of prisoners into Christianity, after six prisoners formally lodged a complaint with the state government. Though there had been allegations that P. David, the jail superintendent of Pondicherry Central Prison, was forcing prisoners to convert and was allowing Christian propagandists free access to the prison. This is the first time the matter has come out into the open. Six prisoners serving varying sentences suddenly found themselves transferred to the sub-jail in Karaikal, an enclave located in Tamil Nadu. Protesting against this, they went on a hunger fast at the Karaikal prison compelling the local superintendent of police to hold an enquiry. They used this opportunity to file a formal complaint accusing David of torturing them at the Central Jail after they refused to be converted to Christianity. A senior bureaucrat of the Pondicherry government admitted that many complaints against David had been received, especially the way he permitted Christian missionaries to enter the prison under the guise of distributing food and sweets. They had used this free access to carry on religious propaganda, which was against prison rules. Another allegation against the jail warden is that he had allowed Sahayaraj, a lifer to jump parole, who is now running a Christian NGO in Warangal in Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister N Rengasamy said that the enquiry would be comprehensive and the prisoners would also be enquired.

In Assam, Holi Revives Art Forms

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:47:02 ( 1029 reads )


GUWAHATI, INDIA, April 1, 2002: Mixing religion with an initiative to revive dying art forms is what temple authorities at the Dol Gobindo mandir near here did on Saturday on the occasion of Holi. The five-day-long Dol Utsav here -- thronged by thousands, apart from local villagers -- is not just a celebration of religion or the festival of colors, it also showcases of traditional arts fast declining in the state. "It's a kind of mission for us. On the evenings of the Dol Jatra festival, we showcase our traditional art forms together with devotional songs and bhajans,'' Monindra Prasad Baruah, head of the 23-member temple committee, pointed out. Naturally enough, nagranaam and chaitali naam -- holy chantings that are unique only to this central Assam district of Kamrup, are a must here. Paresh Barua, working president of the committee, said: "These naams have been a part of our tradition since 1835, when the temple was first established.'' These apart, ojapali -- a "dance and song performance in praise of Lord Krishna and Lord Bishnu'' -- is also a regular feature of the cultural evenings here, together with the famous bhaona nritya, a kind of dance drama, along with plays on local and traditional themes. The devotees -- even the younger generation -- have responded very positively to the cultural initiative. Encouraged, the temple committee is planning to set up a cultural complex within the temple premises.

Malaysia Hindu Police Gather for a Day of Prayer

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:46:02 ( 1076 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, April 1, 2002: About 400 Hindu policemen and their families offered prayers at the Arulmigu Sri Ramalingam Eswarar Temple in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar on March 30. The gathering was organized by police personnel in the Klang Valley and was meant to bless them and their families in conjunction with the recent 195th Police Day celebrations. A special fund-raising session was held for three-month-old M. Trahina who needs US$26,000 to undergo heart surgery. Her technician father N. Madavan, 30, said Trahina, one of a pair of twins, was diagnosed with a heart problem since birth. The gathering raised over $800 for the baby.

Pluralism Project Offers Research Grants

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:45:02 ( 1059 reads )


CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, March 31, 2002: The Pluralism Project, a long-term study by Harvard University, is offering small grants for religion departments, college students, and high school teachers to extend their research on America's new religious landscape. The small grants for high school teachers encourages engagement with the religious communities of their own region as an integral part of both research and teaching. For more information and application materials click "source" above.

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Tour Updates

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:44:02 ( 1065 reads )


KERALA, INDIA, April 1, 2002: Mata Amritanandamayi Devi will be conducting her North Kerala tour from 25 April up to 4 May. There will be two Brahmasthanam Festivals during the tour, one in Palakkad and one in Talssery. The other places she will visit are Vadakara, Kannur and Kanhangad. Amma is now on her trip to Singapore and Australia and will be back in Amritapuri on April 13

Malaysia Government to Allow Development of Old Temple

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:43:02 ( 1005 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 29, 2002: The government has agreed to allow the development proposed by the management of the century-old Marathandavar Temple in Maran, said Malaysia Indian Congress president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. He said there should be no worries as the temple on a 3.6ha site had been gazetted as a heritage site by the Pahang government. "The temple cannot be issued a land title as it is situated in a Malay reserve area," he said. He said there was an urgent need for the development as the temple had been badly affected by the recent floods. "Photographs of the site have been shown to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad," he said. Samy Vellu had raised the matter in the Cabinet after the Selangor Democratic Action Party had raised the temple issue during their campaigns among Indian voters for the Ketari by-election. DAP National Youth Committee member T. Kannan had alleged that the temple had not been given the land title and attempts to seek approval for development of its surroundings had been denied.

Do the Goddesses Wear the Sacred Thread?

Posted on 2002/4/1 8:42:02 ( 1174 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, March 31, 2002: Hinduism Today is researching an article on the sacred thread ceremony being performed for girls. In the course of the research, we have found paintings and sculptures of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga and other Goddesses both with and without the sacred thread. If someone is familiar with this aspect of Goddess iconography, kindly e-mail "source" above.

Nine Killed in Fresh Violence in Gujarat

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:49:02 ( 1022 reads )


AHMEDABAD/VADODARA, INDIA, March 31, 2002: Hours after chief minister Narendra Modi claimed in Mumbai on Saturday that Gujarat was returning to normal, violence broke out in many parts of the state late in the night claiming at least nine lives. The incidents come four days prior to Prime Minister Vajpayee's scheduled visit to the state amid frantic attempts by the government to show a semblance of normal functioning. Meanwhile, Modi has arrived in Delhi following a summons by the PM. The toll in the riots and violence in the state since February 28 has risen to 800. Violence has claimed 325 lives in Ahmedabad alone. The most vicious clashes were reported in the labor-dominated Gomtipur in which at least three persons were killed and 18 injured. Deaths in communal clashes overnight were also reported from Kadi in Mehsana district and Khambhat and Petlad in Anand. There were reports that at least two persons were still missing in Gomtipur and this could trigger more violence on Sunday evening. In the Gomtipur area of Ahmedabad, violence was reported from 10 pm onwards and the frenzy continued till well past midnight when army columns were called in. Heavy stone-throwing, firing and arson were reported from the area. Miscreants also set ablaze houses and shops in Samsherbagh on Nagri Mill Road and other areas like Mohanlal ni Chawl, Jhulta Minara, Sutharwada and Hauz Wali Masjid.

Was Godhra Attack Planned?

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:48:02 ( 1069 reads )

Source: India Today

GODHRA, INDIA, March 25, 2002: On the night of March 3, as a grim Godhra resigned itself to an extended curfew, a crack team of the state's anti-terrorist squad was closing in on some citizens. Having made vital arrests in Godhra's Polan Bazar in connection with the burning of the Sabarmati Express, it was waiting for information from a reconnaissance group that had visited Mithikhan Mohalla, Polan's thickly populated and predominantly Muslim section. The Mithikhan raid netted Mohammed Husain Abdul Rahim Kalota, president of the Godhra Municipal Council. With two other councillors--Abdul Rehman Abdul Majid Dhantia alias Kan-katta and Salim Abdul Gaffer Shaikh-arrested earlier in the day, the investigation was making brisk progress. The interrogation of Kalota confirmed hidden "dubious outsiders" in Polan Bazar a few days before the train massacre. It is believed that SIMI activists helped in the Sabarmati Express operation, according to this report, and that the intent was to burn the entire train.

India Allows Use of Modified Cotton

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:47:02 ( 1050 reads )


GUJARAT, INDIA, MARCH 25, 2002: India's environment regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), has approved the use of a genetically modified (GM) cotton for commercial production. Agriculture minister Agit Singh told the BBC's World Business Report he was very much in favor of GM cotton. "Farmers are clamoring for GM seeds. You cannot stop it and put a blanket ban on it. I don't think any country can avoid it for long," he said. But Greenpeace claims GM crops could cross pollinate and contaminate non-GM crops. India has the world's largest cotton-growing area but yields only about 300kg per hectare, under half the global average of about 650kg. Just as in the US, the government is going to insist on certain conditions for the planting, specifically that there be a buffer zone between the GM crop and other crops and that a certain amount of non-GM cotton also be planted. It is this latter condition which will be difficult to enforce, as the purpose of that non-GM cotton is to allow a place for the cotton bollworm to thrive and reproduce, destroying its host cotton crop in the process. Without such a provision, it is expected the bollworm will rapidly adapt resistance to the toxin produced by the GM cotton, rendering the crop ultimately just as prone to destruction by the pest as non-GM cotton is now. This would be similar to the rapid development of resistance to DDT and other pesticides by destructive pests.

Spanish Priest Jams Cell Phones at Mass

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:46:02 ( 368 reads )


MORAIRA, SPAIN, March 26, 2002: A priest fed up with mobile phones ringing during Mass has installed an electronic jammer to keep his flock in tune with God. Perhaps Hindu temples will need such a device in the future. Reverend Francisco Llopis, pastor of the Church of the Defenseless, said the beeps, tunes and other digital noise emitted by cell phones are incompatible with quiet worship. Llopis' church in the coastal town of Moraira is the first in Spain to install such a device, which transmits low-power radio signals that sever communications between cellular handsets and cellular base-stations. The controversial technology is designed to create quiet zones in places like restaurants, movie theaters and libraries. Commercial jamming systems are illegal in the United States, Canada and Britain, but some countries such as Australia and Japan allow limited use.

Sadhu Vaswani Mission Celebrates Dada Vaswani's 84th Birthday

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:45:02 ( 1026 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, March 24, 2002: After an interval of two years during which extensive renovation work was carried out on the Sadhu Vaswani Mission premises, the new extended Satsang Hall is nearing completion. The consecration of the Hall will coincide with Reverend Dada J.P. Vaswani's 84th Birthday Celebrations in August. A ten-day long program, which will include Akhand Kirtan, Bhajan Sessions, and programs by all the institutions attached to the Mission, is planned. there will be a series of discourses by Reverend Dada. They will also have Bhog of 101 Nuri Granth Paths, which will culminate on Dada's birthday on August 2 when the new Hall will be dedicated to Sadhu Vaswani. For more information email "source" above.

Study Reveals Correlation Between Television Watching and Violent Behavior

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:44:02 ( 1020 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2002: A study conducted at Columbia University in New York has revealed that teenagers who watch more than one hour of television a day are more likely to display violent aggressive behavior. Jeffrey Johnson, who led the study, tracked 707 children from upstate New York for 17 years. Results of the study were published in journal Scientist and the article says, "The study found that 5.7% of the adolescents who watched less than one hour of television committed aggressive acts against other people in later years, as compared to 22.5% of those who watched between one and three hours a day." Even when other factors such as childhood neglect, low family income, or a psychiatric disorder during adolescence were considered, the correlation between time spent watching television and violent behavior was significant.

Living Together Replacing Marriage in Europe

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:43:02 ( 1085 reads )

Source: New York Times

NORWAY, March 24, 2002: Couples in Europe have adopted a non-marriage trend and as a result more and more European children are born out of wedlock. The article states the following statistics, "In Norway, 49% of all births in 1999 were to unwed parents. In Ireland, the figure was 62%. In Britain, it was 38% and in France 41% in 1998." Even in Catholic Ireland 31% of births were in families outside of marriage. The 31% statistic of Ireland matches that of families in the United States. In what is being called the new social order, children from these unions are not suffering any social stigma which would have been common in the past. Previously, there was a trend toward the first child being born out of wedlock, and the parents later marrying. Now, the parents are never marrying.

Raghunath Temple of Jammu Attacked by Suicide Bombers

Posted on 2002/3/30 8:49:02 ( 1154 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, March 30, 2002: Eleven people were killed and 25 others injured Saturday when suicide bombers stormed attacked the famous Raghunath Temple here. Three terrorists arrived at Raghunath temple gate at 10:30 am, exploded grenades at the temple's gate and opened fire from AK-47 rifles. Devotees who come from across the country for their pilgrimage to the shrine of Vaishno Devi were fleeing Jammu following the attack. City police chief Prabhat Singh said two of the three militants who attacked the shrine were killed instantly, along with four policemen and four civilians, including two devotees. Twenty-five others were injured in exchanges of fire, Singh said, adding that five of the victims were in critical condition. The temple's chief priest, Darshan Kumar Sharma, said the sanctorum was scarred by bullet marks. Police chief Singh said the attackers belonged to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic guerrilla group, which India blames for carrying out an attack on its national parliament in New Delhi in December which left 14 people dead.

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