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Court Battle Over Sikh Dagger in Canada

Posted on 2002/4/7 9:46:02 ( 1249 reads )


MONTREAL, CANADA, April 4, 2002: A Sikh family here will soon test the boundaries of religious tolerance with a court battle to win permission for their 12-year-old son to wear his spiritually significant dagger to school. Quebec's Superior Court will take up the issue next week and its decision will set a legal precedent for the province. The issue of whether the dagger, known as a kirpan, should be considered a weapon when brought into schools surfaced nearly ten years ago both in Quebec and the neighboring province of Ontario. In the early 1990s, Ontario's Court of Appeal upheld a previous ruling affirming the right of students and teachers to wear the Sikh ceremonial daggers. The ruling allowed them to carry kirpans in school so long as they were concealed and secured underneath their clothing. Other schools have succeeded in convincing young Sikhs to carry a token kirpan - a pendant, perhaps, or something made of plastic -- to avoid its possible use in school as a weapon. The parents of young Gurbaj Singh reject a replacement, saying it goes against their religion. Gurbaj has worn his kirpan at all times since his baptism and it was only late last year when it fell out that teachers realized he carried one. For the past four months, intercultural specialists, community members and lawyers have held talks aimed at reaching an equitable arrangement over the issue and failed. According to the family's lawyer, the Singh family would agree to have the kirpan wrapped and sewn inside clothing but a token dagger was unacceptable. So far, Gurbaj has neither attended school nor taken the private lessons authorized by the school board while the issue was being discussed.

Karunamayi Bhagavati Sri Sri Sri Vijayeswari Devi's Tours USA

Posted on 2002/4/7 9:45:02 ( 1355 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, In what must surely be the most comprehensive (and grueling) tour of the USA by a Hindu leader in recent times, Sri Karunamayi will give darshan for four months to devotees in 30 cities across North America starting in New York on April 5th. Included in the itinerary are some places seldom visited by travelling swamis, such as Anchorage, Alaska and Boise, Idaho. Join with her in singing devotional songs and receive the blessings of her divine knowledge and love. For more information, click "source" above.

India's Prime Minister Ashamed of Riots

Posted on 2002/4/6 8:49:02 ( 1065 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, April 4, 2002: In an emotionally charged speech, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a categorical assurance to the riot victims of Ahmedabad that they will be taken care of by the government and that refugee camps will go on as long as needed. He said he was "ashamed" at what had happened in Gujarat and the fact that many people "had become refugees in their own country." Addressing riot victims at the Shah Alam refugee camp on Thursday afternoon, the Prime Minister said he was soon to visit some foreign countries and "I don't know what face I will take to some of the Muslim countries I have to visit". He said when people from other countries ask him about the communal riots, he felt ashamed and does not know what to say. "You are not alone at this time of crisis, we all are with you. The entire country is with you," he told the riot victims. Vajpayee said he was shocked at the incident on Wednesday in which 5 persons had been burnt to death in an Ahmedabad village and said "I wonder whether the devil has overcome us". He said while the train carnage at Godhra was to be condemned, the incidents which followed were equally condemnable.

Lenasia's Black Hindu Priest Breaks Myths

Posted on 2002/4/6 8:48:02 ( 1215 reads )


LENASIA, JOHANNESBURG, April 5, 2002: He used to be a devout Christian until curiosity took him to a Hindu temple in Lenasia town, 25 miles south of this South African city. Four years later, Meshack Jantjies, 35, is South Africa's first black African Hindu priest. Not only does the deputy resident priest at the Siva Gnana Sabay temple have a large following, but with tremendous effort he is also mastering the Tamil language. Initially, Jantjies joined activities at the temple while working as a cleaner there. When his family joined him to live on the premises, he found more time to engage in deeper studies. "The resident priest then made me a tape which I listened to over and over. I learned to recite prayers from the "Thevaram" (collections of Tamil devotion songs) by doing that. I also joined the adult Tamil classes at the temple." Two years ago, Jantjies was appointed the deputy resident priest. He has been fully accepted by the devotees. "When I stand before the people here and lead the prayers, I feel that I am with my own family," said Jantjies. He goes to great pains to emphasize that he was not recruited or converted by anyone. "I was like a wild animal before joining the temple, and now I have found peace with myself. Jantjies now plans to make it his mission to break prevailing myths among other communities about worship at Hindu temples.

September 11 Dealt a Blow to India's 'Silicon Valley'

Posted on 2002/4/6 8:47:02 ( 1072 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, March 31, 2002: With 925 software firms and 80,000 software engineers, Bangalore has become the Silicon Valley of India, accounting for one quarter of the country's $6.2 billion in software exports. Bay Area notables Cisco, Apple and Hewlett-Packard all have sites here. When the original Silicon Valley sank into recession, Indians were optimistic. With 60 percent of India's software exports already going to the United States, analysts predicted that the slowdown would simply push US employers in the direction of more low-end offshore work. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks wreaked severe damage on India's information technology business by accelerating the loss of confidence among American businesses and consumers. Analysts in India say that American IT companies panicked over the potential economic ramifications of Sept 11, suddenly withdrawing their investments in projects abroad. At the same time, budgets were trimmed at US tech firms, and many Indian H-1B visa holders returned home. By the close of 2001, according to Infotech.com, about 10,000 private tech training centers had closed, and the number of students enrolled in such institutes fell by about 30 percent. "It's very sad," said D Jagannath, an Internet facilitator at Wipro, one of India's largest information technology service vendors, "Guys who were working offshore have been thrown back here; people have lost jobs, or had their salaries cut by 30 percent." Bangalore has had some good news of late with companies like AT&T, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems heading up new interests here. But the area's vulnerability to the vagaries of the US tech cycle has prompted a search for new markets and made Indian self-reliance a higher priority.

Hindu Youth Seminar in Malaysia

Posted on 2002/4/6 8:46:02 ( 1348 reads )

Source: Hinduism Today

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 17, 2002: Members of Saiva Siddhanta Church (SSC) organized a Hindu Youth Seminar held in Panniru Thirumurai Center last Sunday. The one-day seminar aimed at introducing Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's Trilogy (Dancing, Living, and Merging With Siva) and how Hinduism can be practiced in our day-to-day living. Attended by members and students, the seminar turned out to be a very successful event for the Malaysian youth of SSC. The seminar began at 9:00 am with a Ganesha invocation. Twelve sessions were presented on topics including: The Yamas and Niyamas, Bramhacharya, Ahimsa, Steadfastness, Devotion, Temple and Lord Ganesha, Will Power & Power of Affirmation, Soul Identity, Karma, and the Four Goals of Life (Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha). A welcome meal provided by the events organizers and testimony from the participants ended the successful program.

"No Thanks" to British Grant for Indian Farming

Posted on 2002/4/6 8:45:02 ( 1123 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, April 4, 2002: A British government grant of US$90 million to fund farming development in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) will throw millions of farmers out of work, MPs in London have been told. The massive grant is being given to the state government to consolidate small farms into large ones, buy huge machines to sow and harvest crops, introduce new pesticides to promote the growth of produce and to start the growing of genetically-modified (GM) crops. But the funding for the project, known as Vision 2020, from Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), has provoked fury from farmers and international charities. A delegation of farmers and agricultural scientists from the Indian state has flown to London and has already met scores of MPs, demanding that the grant be cancelled. The powerful environmental and human rights organizations Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and the Small Farms Alliance are supporting the farmers. The Institute of Development Studies and the International Institute for Environment are also supporting the campaign by the farmers' delegation against British interference in traditional and family farming in the huge, but poor Indian state. Delegation leader P.V. Satheesh said: "Vision 2020 is an aid package for big farmers and corporations who supply machines, pesticides and who want to promote untested GM crops. The British grant will result in huge corporation-owned farms, instead of hundreds of small ones which give a livelihood and jobs to millions of peasant farmers and their families. These farmers will be thrown off their land and in AP, there is no other work for them."

Jammu Temple Closes Doors for Purification First Time in 150 Years

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:49:02 ( 1054 reads )

Source: The Hindu

SRINAGAR, INDIA, March 31, 2002: The gory incident of Saturday at Jammu's historic Raghunath temple led to the closure of its doors for the first time in 150 years. Upset over what happened at the place of worship the head priest, Pandit V. Shastri, said, "The doors had to be closed for the first time in 150 years for devotees and the common public.'' The priest was busy with the puja when he heard the gun shots. "I could not believe that the three SSB jawans posted there were dead. I had shook hands with them a few moments before,'' he told this correspondent over the phone. One priest had an encounter with one of the militants who blew himself off within the compound. A large number of priests and devotees gathered at the temple to pray for peace.

Constitutional Panel Recommends Change in Definition of Hinduism

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:48:02 ( 1102 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 3, 2002: In a recognition of their separate identity, the Constitution Review Commission has recommended that Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism should be treated as religions distinct from Hinduism. Presently, a constitutional provision groups them together. The existing explanation II of Article 25 of the Constitution (Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice and Propagation of Religion) says reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly. "Explanation II to Article 25 should be omitted," according to Justice M. N. Venkatachalian Commission, which submitted its report to the government on Sunday. It appears such a change would allow Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists to claim minority religion status in India, presently only granted to Christians and Muslims, with the attendant privileges to operate their institutions without government interference, and to teach their religion in their schools operated with government funds.

Officials Stop Child Marriage

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:47:02 ( 987 reads )

Source: The Hindu

KARIMNAGAR, ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA, March 31, 2002: The local administration prevented the marriage of a 15-year-old girl here. The authorities got the marriage postponed while they explain to the family that there are laws against marriage at that age in India. The legal age for marriage for girls in India is 18 and for boys 21. In the State of Hawaii, USA, the legal age for both boys and girls is 18. They can marry at 16 or 17 with the consent of the parents, and at 15 with the consent of the parents and a family court judge. In Iran, the legal age for girls is nine.

New Zealand Census Shows Hindu Numbers Increasing

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:46:02 ( 1082 reads )


NEW ZEALAND, March 30, 2002: As Christians celebrate Easter, latest census figures show there are fewer of them, but the diversity of faiths among New Zealanders is growing. Over a million people (27.5 per cent) described themselves as having no religion in the 2001 census compared with about 670,000 people a decade ago. New Zealand's changing population is increasingly reflected in the variety of religions. The number of Hindus has more than doubled since 1991 to 38,769, and the number of Buddhists has more than tripled. At the same time, most of the major Christian denominations experienced drops in the tens of thousands. Peter Lineham, associate professor of history in the school of social and cultural studies at Massey University's Albany campus, said that in the past half century the percentage of New Zealanders who described themselves as Christian had dropped by a third to just over 60 percent. The growth in "other world religions" had not made up for the decrease. "It's not a collapse. What's happened is there has been this massive decline in Christian support, but it is still the majority religion." Other faiths, such as Hindu and Baha'i had grown from less than 0.5 per cent of the population in 1951 to 3.5 per cent today.

Asian Migrants Flocking to New Zealand

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:45:02 ( 1041 reads )


AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, Mar 23, 2002: Asians are coming to New Zealand in numbers not seen since the mid-1990s and the latest figures show that most of the migrants are Chinese or Indian. In a reversal of trends, the inflow of people outnumbers the outflow, sparking a real estate boom. According to Statistics New Zealand, the number of people coming to live in New Zealand outnumbered those leaving by 22,000 in the year to February 2002, the Dominion newspaper reported. The immigrants included 11,900 from China, 4,800 from India, 3,000 from South Africa and 2,900 from Britain. However, the composition of Asian immigrants had changed. The middle-aged wealthy couples, who were keen on buying houses in the 1990s, have been replaced by 15- to 30-year-old students wanting to rent. The rental demand has affected the Auckland property market and bidding wars are now common among people wanting to rent in inner-city Auckland. The turnaround in migration figures followed last year's 'brain-drain' outcry which fuelled debate and resulted in a national Knowledge Wave conference that discussed ways to solve the problem.

Nice To Meet You. Will You Marry Me?

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:44:02 ( 1060 reads )


BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, March 30, 2002: In Indian culture, societal and family pressures to find someone of similar backgrounds and sometimes caste often produce quick nuptials, reports the Boston Daily Globe in this insightful article. Arranged marriages, in which teenagers are introduced on their wedding day, are declining among a new generation of Indians. But the alternative is hardly easier: How can young, single Indians living in a Western world satisfy parents espousing Eastern values, including a desire to get married to people with the perfect pedigrees? And be quick about it? "The pressure starts right out of college," said Sonali Ganti, 32, of Newton, who got married in 1999. "No one's mother wants them to be over 29, ...But most of my friends went to grad school, medical school; their careers came first. And all of a sudden they realize that they're pushing 30." Recent films like "Monsoon Wedding" and the forthcoming "American Chai," explore these issues. But for real-life young Indians, Vijay Prashad, director of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, sees more at work: modern interpretations of an ancient culture that emphasizes ancestry, class, and marriage as an improvement of parents' social status. It creates what Prashad calls an "anxiety soup" for Indians raising their children in the United States. Their forebears might have sought members of the priestly Brahmin caste for their daughter's hand; today, they'll ask for doctors or lawyers. "Arranged relationships are not something new or old," said Prashad, author of "The Karma of Brown Folk." "They just take on different forms."

Religious Freedom in China

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:43:02 ( 1098 reads )


CHINA, April 1, 2002: During the annual week-long Chinese New Year holiday, Buddhist and Taoist temples across China are always brimming with worshippers burning joss-sticks and praying to Buddha and other deities for good fortune. Come Christmas, young Chinese pack the Nantang Catholic Church in Beijing to soak in the Christmas feel and listen to carollers. Religious books on stories from the Bible or the Quran are readily available at China's state-run book stores. These scenes of public religious devotion and access to religious information appear to contradict Western criticism of religious oppression in China where the ruling Communist Party is staunchly atheist. Dr Lai Hongyi, of the National University of Singapore's East Asian Institute, explained that religious freedom had been allowed since 1979 under a liberalization program. As well, after almost two decades of economic reforms, communism is fast losing its glitter, leading to the declining appeal of official ideology. The people's inherent need for spiritual solace is also a contributing factor. According to official records, China's officially sanctioned religions, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity, have attracted more than 140 million followers. Western observers say the actual figure may be higher. However, not all religious activities are condoned by the government, which requires religious followers to be loyal first to their country and to the Communist Party. Orthodox religions and certain indigenous folk religious practices such as ancestor worship are left untamed. But those that fail to register with the government or which link their activities to political issues such as Tibetan and Xinjiang independence are regarded as threats to social stability. President Jiang Zemin has said religious faith is protected in China but devotees must abide by Chinese laws.

Shri Anandi Ma Tours America and Europe

Posted on 2002/4/3 8:42:02 ( 1064 reads )

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