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Nepal Calls for Return of Stolen Statues
Posted on 2015/5/22 4:11:33 ( 1080 reads )

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NEPAL, May 20, 2015 (France 24): The massive earthquakes that recently hit Nepal caused the loss of thousands of lives, but they also destroyed numerous temples. In a strange twist of fate, some holy statues survived the two quakes and their aftershocks... because they were stolen and smuggled abroad several decades ago. Nepalese people are now calling for their immediate return. UNESCO reported that the earthquake had taken a "catastrophic" toll on cultural heritage sites in Nepal: 90% of seven World Heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley were destroyed, including most of their statues. However, some of these temples' original statues were not damaged, because they are no longer in Nepal. More than 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues have disappeared from Nepali temples, fountains and sanctuaries since the country first opened its borders to tourists in 1951.

Between 1960 and the early 1990s, numerous statues were stolen and then sold to private foreign collectors. Others ended up in museums in the United States or Europe. The project "Remembering the Lost" has tracked down about 160 statues that were stolen from Nepal. According to the project's founders, the total number of missing relics - including statues and other religious items - is probably close to 1,000. In Nepal, these religious objects are integral to the spiritual life of the community. Statues are seen as incarnations of divinities and each has a specific task

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Li's Participation in Yoga Meet to Help Its Spread in China
Posted on 2015/5/22 4:11:28 ( 991 reads )

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BEIJING, CHINA, May 19, 2015 (Business Standard): Participation of Premier Li Keqiang in the high profile yoga-tai chi event along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here recently and the permission to set up the first India-assisted yoga college in China is seen as an official sanction for its spread in the communist nation. Li's participation in the colorful yoga-tai chi meeting last week involving 400 Chinese and Indian students along with Modi provides "official seal" to permit practice of yoga in a big way, Indian officials said.

Yoga has become immensely popular in China especially among the educated middle classes who see it as more of a physical exercise. However, this is the first time that a high powered official attended a yoga event sending an official signal to the provinces to encourage it. An MOU to set up a yoga college along with Indian teachers in Yunnan University was signed during Modi's visit which for the first time bring will bring new standards to thousands of yoga teachers and institutions mushrooming all over China.

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Elephant Owners Association Decry Move to Stop Festivals
Posted on 2015/5/22 4:11:22 ( 893 reads )

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INDIA, May 21, 2015 (The Hindu): A special convention of Elephant Owners Association held here on Monday called upon people to protect festivals and cultural heritage of the state. "The people with vested interests have misled the court that elephant owners were misusing elephants for making money. We should try to convince Union ministers about the importance of festivals, including Thrissur Pooram, in Kerala tradition," said T.A. Sundar Menon, President of Elephant Owners Co-operative Sangam..

Cochin Devaswom Board former President Adv. M.A.A Krishnanunny said that the controversy over using elephants for festivals was an ongoing problem. "We should be able to convince the Supreme Court about the facts about festivals and elephant parades," he said. Meeting called up on temple managements to pass resolution against move to ban elephant parades. Elephant Federation has also given instruction to mahouts that the elephants should not be harassed in any way.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/22 4:11:17 ( 776 reads )

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You shine, all living things emerge. You disappear, they go to rest. Recognizing our innocence, O golden-haired Sun, arise; let each day be better than the last.
-- Rig Veda (X, 37, 9)

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Ancient Statue Of Hindu God Hanuman Returned To Cambodia
Posted on 2015/5/21 2:24:56 ( 1001 reads )

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PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, MAY 17, 2015 (By Sopheng Cheang, The Associated Press): Cambodia welcomed home a 10th century stone statue of a Hindu God that was looted from a temple during the country's civil war and spent the past three decades at an American museum. The sculpture of Hanuman was formally handed over Tuesday at a ceremony in Phnom Penh attended by government officials and the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, which acquired the sculpture in 1982.

The statue was stolen from the Prasat Chen Temple in the Koh Ker temple complex in Siem Reap province, which is also home to the famed Angkor Wat temples, said Sok An, adding that it was shipped to Europe and then the U.S. Officials at the Cleveland museum found last year that the statue's head and body were sold separately in 1968 and 1972 during the Vietnam War and the Cambodian civil war. An excavation showed the sculpture's base matched a pedestal at the ancient temple.

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Expat Balinese Hindus Celebrate Saraswati in Belgium
Posted on 2015/5/21 2:24:51 ( 963 reads )

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BELGIUM, May 5, 2015 (Dunia News): The celebration of Saraswati by Bali Hindus was held solemnly at Pura Santi Agung Bhuwana in Brugelette, Belgium on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015. At least 500 Balinese Hindus from 12 European countries participated. The event saw a series of ceremonies that began on Friday. A communal prayer ceremony ritual formally began the celebration on Saturday. This celebration was also attended by the Indonesian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden and the Republic of Latvia, Dewa Made Juniarta Sastrawan. That afternoon he was asked to give a speech in front of the hundreds of Hindus who had come for the celebration.

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Does India Care About Its Stolen Artifacts?
Posted on 2015/5/21 2:24:46 ( 697 reads )

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INDIA, April 24, 2015 (Swarajya): A few days ago a US official revealed the full extent of "Operation Hidden Idol" which had recovered approximately 2,600 items worth an estimated 650 Crores ($100 million). This brought out the truth about scores of artefacts being stolen by just one disgraced art dealer, Subhash Kapoor. And this was just the number seized from his unsold stock in various storage lockers in America. Apart from this there are between 500-1000 objects held by various American museums, many of which are believed to be with unclear provenances (place of origin/source). It wouldn't be unreasonable then to imagine that are thousands of other such objects, smuggled from India which are held in various museums, in various countries or are with various private collectors. In any other country, information like this would have caused much furore. But in India, only a casual mention of the retrieval of a few pieces from Hawaii was made.

How an entire nation could have missed these important thefts is mind boggling. The arrest of one Vaman Ghiya and his associates in 2002 should have drawn our attention to crimes like this even earlier. Almost 10,000 artefacts are said to have been stolen and sold abroad by Ghiya and his associates. An association with Sotheby's has been mentioned, although their involvement in the case hasn't been determined. Yet, all this was forgotten or ignored when the Rajasthan High court acquitted Ghiya in early 2014.

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Sanskrit Popular in German Universities
Posted on 2015/5/21 2:24:40 ( 655 reads )

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UNITED KINGDOM, April 14, 2015 (Daily Mail): Will Germans be the eventual custodians of Sanskrit, its rich heritage and culture? If the demand for Sanskrit and Indology courses in Germany is any indication, that's what the future looks like. Unable to cope with the flood of applications from around the world, the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, had to start a summer school in spoken Sanskrit in Switzerland, Italy and - believe it or not - India too. "When we started it 15 years ago, we were almost ready to shut it after a couple of years. Instead, we had to increase strength and take the course to other European countries," said Professor Dr. Axel Michaels, head of classical Indology at the university.

In Germany, 14 of the top universities teach Sanskrit, classical and modern Indology compared to just four in the UK. The summer school spans a month in August every year and draws applications from across the globe. "So far, 254 students from 34 countries have participated in this course. Every year we have to reject many applications," said Dr. Michaels. "Even the core thoughts of Buddhism were in the Sanskrit language. To better understand the genesis of oriental philosophy, history, languages, sciences and culture, it's essential to read the original Sanskrit texts as these are some of the earliest thoughts and discoveries," he added.

More at source.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/21 2:24:34 ( 613 reads )

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The atman in you is that which indwells all things." "Tell me, Yajnavalkya, about this atman that indwells all things." "It is that which transcends hunger and thirst, sorrow and delusion, old age and death."
-- Brihadaranyaka Upanishad III, 5A

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Indian Government to Audit 18,000 Temples and Monasteries
Posted on 2015/5/20 2:15:26 ( 711 reads )

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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, May 16, 2015 ( Daily Pioneer): The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, for the first time, has initiated an audit of about 18,000 mutts and temples in Odisha. The State Government has enlisted these mutts (monasteries) and temples, which, apart from their own sources of income, also get Government aid. The mutts and temples, which have properties of over hundreds of thousands of US dollars, are now mired in gross irregularities. While some persons have encroached upon the mutt and temple land or sold these away at throwaway prices, some have forcibly taken possession of these religious institutions since years.

Sources said Principal Accountant General Amar Patnaik, in a letter to the Chief Secretary, has expressed his keenness for an audit of the mutts and temples and requested him to appoint the CAG as the auditor. The Law Department has begun the process for the proposed audit. A source in the Law Department said there is a provision for CAG audit of mutts and temples under Section (58) (3) of the Odisha Hindu Endowment Act, 1951. On the basis of this legal provision, the Law Department would send files to the office of the Chief Minister, on whose approval the CAG would conduct the audit, the source said.

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Bali Sees More Visitors From India
Posted on 2015/5/20 2:15:15 ( 681 reads )

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JAKARTA, BALI, May 17, 2015 (Jakarta Post) Bali provincial tourism office data revealed on Saturday that the number of tourists from India has increased by 47.52 percent in the first two months of the year to 17,400 people. "The significant increase of travelers from India is supported by good relations between India and Indonesia from the political, economic and cultural sectors," tourism practitioner Made Sudana said in Denpasar, Bali, on Saturday. Bali was the perfect place for Indians to visit since most people on Bali are Hindu, which is also the dominant religion in India, he said

"Hinduism is a religion that is growing in India and Bali. The people from both places find spiritual and cultural connections through Hinduism," he said. He added that many tourists from India were amazed by the development of Hinduism in Bali, including how this religion mixed beautifully with the local culture and arts, which was different from Hinduism in India. These uniqueness, he said, was the main attraction for Indian travelers.

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Thousands Expected for Hindu Ceremony
Posted on 2015/5/20 2:15:00 ( 656 reads )

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HIDDEN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, May 17, 2015 (by Sarah Ruf, Maricopa Monitor): Organizers of a three-day religious ceremony expect about 5,000 worshipers to converge on a Maricopa-area temple this weekend.They will celebrate the addition of two new Hindu deities in the Maha Ganapati Temple, now home to 11 gods and their corresponding shrines.The Murti Prana Prathishtapana Kumbhabhishekam ritual started at 8:30 a.m. Friday and runs through Sunday afternoon.

The intricate hand-carved statues were shipped in from India. Each one took a skilled artisan nine months to complete. The temple is crafted to resemble a 16th century house of worship in India, and the main building touts three 26-foot vimanas, or towers, that are painstakingly carved by a trio of skilled workmen: C. Shanmuganathan, M. Elangovan-Ilangoyan and K. Thandapani."It's the only temple in Arizona to follow traditional designs," Natarajan said. It's all slated for completion in May 2017.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/20 2:14:54 ( 502 reads )

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The joy of the vengeful lasts only for a day, but the glory of the forbearing lasts until the end of time.
-- Tirukkural

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Fueled by Immigration, Hinduism Becomes Fourth-Largest Faith in US
Posted on 2015/5/17 3:00:00 ( 1071 reads )

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NEW YORK, U.S., May 13, 2015 (Times of India): Fueled by immigration, America's Hindu population has reached 2.23 million, an increase of about one million or 85.8 percent since 2007, making Hinduism the fourth-largest faith, according to estimates based on wide-ranging study of religions in the nation. The proportion of Hindus in the US population rose from 0.4 percent in 2007 to 0.7 percent last year, according to the Pew Research Center's "Religious Landscape Study" published on Tuesday.

The study only gave the percentage shares of Hindus in the population, rather than numbers, but calculations by IANS using the population proportions in the report and census projections showed that the number of Hindus rose from 1.2 million in 2007 out of a total US population of 301.2 million that year to 2.23 million in 2014 in a population of 318.88 million. This amounts to an increase of 1.03 million or 85.8 percent in the Hindu population during the seven-year period. Pew said that it may have underestimated the size of the Hindu population in an earlier report.

[HPI Note: In 2008, Hinduism Today estimated the population of Hindus in the US at 2.29 million -- see http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/ ... ction/item.php?itemid=158. It appears quite likely that the earlier number cited by Pew is indeed an underestimation, as there is no logical reason for such a sharp increase in the number of Hindus since 2008.]

Looking at the socio-economic profile of Hindus, the new Pew report released on Tuesday said they had the highest education and income levels of all religious groups in the US: 36 percent of the Hindus said their annual family income exceeded $100,000, compared with 19 percent of the overall population. The new report said that most of the increase in the Hindu population came through immigration and not conversions: 87 percent are immigrants and nine percent are the children of immigrants. Only 10 percent of the Hindus are converts, with Catholics and unaffiliated each accounting for 3 percent.

HPI Note: "Only 10 percent of the Hindus are converts" is actually the most startling statistic in this survey, and well beyond anything Hinduism Today would have guessed. That translates, using Pew's numbers of the Hindu population today, to 210,000 Hindu converts in the US.

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U.S. Becoming Less Christian, Study Finds; Unaffiliated Group Grows
Posted on 2015/5/17 2:50:20 ( 921 reads )

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UNITED STATES, May 14, 2015 (NBC News): The share of Americans who do not identify with a religion has grown dramatically and now surpasses every affiliation except evangelical Protestants, according to a survey released Tuesday. The Pew Research Center found that 22.8 percent of Americans were religiously unaffiliated last year -- up from 16.1 percent in 2007. That group includes atheists, agnostics and those who chose "nothing in particular."

In all, roughly seven in 10 Americans identified with some branch of Christianity, down from almost eight in 10 in 2007. The share of Americans who identify with a non-Christian faith grew to 5.9 percent, with pronounced growth among Muslims and Hindus.

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