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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/1/20 20:04:28 ( 1390 reads )

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In the end, the Great Mystery is known as one, as two, as neither one nor two. Most people try to experience God through other people. Disciples see a guru as God. Wives see their husband as God. Devotees see the Deity in the temple as God. But all the time, behind the eyes of their seeing, is God.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of hinduism today

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Ardh Kumbh Mela Opens to Colorful Start in Haridwar

Posted on 2016/1/19 18:07:46 ( 1776 reads )

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HARIDWAR, INDIA, January 14, 2016 (Hindustan Times): The Ardh Kumbh Mela opened to a colorful start in Haridwar, with thousands of devotees taking part in the first snan or holy dip in the Ganga on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti on Thursday. The Har Ki Pauri - the famous ghat on the banks on the Ganga in Haridwar - witnessed a rush of pilgrims from across the country, with devotees immersing themselves into the icy waters of the Ganga.

The Ardh Kumbh Mela takes place in Haridwar and Allahabad every six years (off the cycle of the Maha Kumbh Mela every 12 years). Attending it is considered to be highly auspicious and a dip in the holy waters of the Ganga is believed to absolve one's sins.

The police and other security forces were seen manning the ghats, with metal detectors, sniffer dogs and tear gas on standby. Aerial drones kept an eye on the activities at the Har Ki Pauri, even as officials at a nearby watch tower were on guard. Deputy mela officer Avdhesh Kumar Singh said that an estimated 500,000 pilgrims had already arrived in the holy city. "The Kumbh Mela has been proceeding peacefully, with no untoward incident having been reported so far. We are keeping a close eye on developments," he said.

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700,000 Take Dip at Holy Confluence at Bay of Bengal

Posted on 2016/1/19 18:07:36 ( 1642 reads )

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GANGASAGAR, INDIA, January 15, 2016 (The Statesman): Around 700,000 pilgrims took the holy dip on the day of Makar Sankranti at the confluence of the Hooghly river (a branch of the Ganga) and Bay of Bengal on Thursday. Those who took the holy bath on the day came not just from different states of India, but also from countries like Nepal, Thailand and others.

Devotees started pouring into the bay near the convergence point of river Hooghly and Bay of Bengal at 4 a.m. The auspicious bath went on till afternoon. However, a large number of devotees, naga sadhus, monks of several ashrams, including the Shankaracharya of Govardhana Math of Puri, will take holy dip tomorrow at the auspicious moment (Mahendrakkhan). Around 1,400,000 people have visited Gangasagar till Thursday.

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Now, Tirukkural Will Be Set to Carnatic Music

Posted on 2016/1/19 18:07:25 ( 1609 reads )

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INDIA, January 15, 2016 (The Hindu): Tirukural, a moral treatise in pithy verse is rarely associated with music. Now, Chitraveena exponent N. Ravikiran is planning to set to music all 1330 couplets. He will begin the work on January 12 at the International Institute of Tamil Studies in Taramani.

"It is possible to make use of the lyrical beauty of the kurals (couplets) and set them to music. I have decided to complete the task in 50 hours," said Mr. Ravikiran when asked how a work not meant for musical rendering would fit into the grammar of Carnatic ragas.

Mr. Ravikiran said he would use over 300 Carnatic ragas for setting the couplets to music. "Besides I will use Hindustani and folk tunes, tunes suitable for Western orchestra and tunes to capture the attention of children. My objective is also to make Tirukural popular on concert platforms on a par with traditional keerthanas," he said.

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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/1/19 18:07:15 ( 1235 reads )

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There is no greater mystery than that we keep seeking reality though, in fact, we are reality. We think that there is something hiding reality and that this must be destroyed before reality is gained. How ridiculous! A day will dawn when you will laugh at all your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.
-- Sri Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950), South Indian mystic

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Government Not to Interfere in Sabarimala Temple Traditions

Posted on 2016/1/14 18:20:55 ( 1899 reads )

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, January 13, 2016 (Deccan Chronicle): Kerala government on Wednesday made it clear that it would not interfere in the customs and traditions of Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala where entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 are banned.

"Government has a declared stand on matters like this. It will not interfere on issues of customs and beliefs," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Chandy was reacting to the supreme court observation that practice of banning entry of women and girls was not supported by the constitutional scheme. The apex court had also directed the state government to file an affidavit in the case.

Chandy said the government never interfered in the matters of other religions such as that of Muslims and Christians. "How can it interfere on customs and beliefs of Hindu faith?," he asked. Yesterday, the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the temple had stated that the restriction was part of custom and traditions of the shrine and wanted it to continue

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Governing Body Denies Recognition to Akhara of Eunuchs at Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2016/1/14 18:20:45 ( 2025 reads )

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INDORE, INDIA, January 11, 2016 (Zee News): Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad, the apex body of Hindu ascetic organisations, has refused to grant recognition to the newly-formed Kinnar Akhara, the religious representation of eunuchs, to participate in Simhastha (Kumbh) Mela (held in Ujjain in 2016) even as the Kinnar members asserted that they do not need permission from the ABAP to participate in the fair. Transgender rights activist Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi also supported the Kinnar Akhara .

"We have not sought any recognition from Akhara Parishad and who are they to recognise anyone? Kinnars (eunuchs) are born as hermits and have played an important role in the protection of Hindu religion. We don't need any certificate from anyone," Laxmi told reporters today after taking part in the Kshipra river cleanliness drive. Replying to a query on ABAP President Mahant Narendra Giri's recent statement that it would not grant recognition to Kinnar Akhara, Laxmi said, "Narendra Giri is unnecessarily making statements. It hardly affects us. We will take part in every activity of the Simhastha Mela."

Laxmi said that some seers are opposing Kinnars' participation in Simhastha as they fear that if the third gender comes to lead the religious world, then what will happen to them. Questioning the existence of 13 main Akharas, Laxmi asked, "Which Hindu scripture has a mention of the Akhara system? On the other hand, there is a special mention of eunuchs in several holy books of Sanatan Hindu Dharm." Laxmi said, "The existence of eunuchs is being denied for centuries. To gain our existence and to take part in the main stream of society, we have formed our own Akhara.

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A 4,000-Year-Old Craft finds its Way from Bastar

Posted on 2016/1/14 18:20:35 ( 1779 reads )

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KERALA, INDIA, January 12, 2016 (The Hindu): The Kerala Folklore Akademi at Chirakkal here has come alive with the exhibition of techniques and craft of a style of metal casting that survives among the tribal people of Bastar in Chattisgarh. Called Dhokra, it is apparently the earliest known method of metal casting. A group of 10 Dhokra artisans from Bastar is camping in the Akademi for the live display of their traditional bell metal casting technique as part of the 10-day metal casting workshop being organised by the Akademi. "Dhokra is a traditional tribal bell metal artwork using layers of wax," said Bannu Ram Baidh, a master craftsman of the visiting team from Bastar. The craft also supports the tribe's livelihood, he said.

The work begins with the making of a clay core which roughly resembles the product. The clay core is then covered by a layer of bee's wax and the sculptor carves out the shape. It is then covered with a thick layer of clay. The wax melts when the clay is cooked and thus forms a mould to be filled with molten metal. "Dhokra work is a combination of art and craft," said Akademi vice-chairman Suresh Koothuparamba, who is an artist himself. It is a 4,000-year old tradition of metal casting, he added.

Akademi secretary M. Pradeep Kumar said that the ongoing Dhokra workshop is being hosted by the Akademi to introduce to the people in the State a cultural legacy of the people of Bastar that still continues.

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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/1/14 18:20:24 ( 838 reads )

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By practicing tolerance of those who insult us, we will feel honor and insult as the same. Just as we feel good when someone praises us, we should feel just as good when we are insulted. Stability in honor or insult is the ability to still have love for our aggressor.
-- Sri Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Spiritual Guru of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

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Madras High Court Grants Interim Stay on Dress Code for Temple Entry

Posted on 2016/1/13 19:32:56 ( 1044 reads )

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CHENNAI, INDIA, January 11, 2016 (Deccan Chronicle): The Madras High court today stayed a single judge's order framing a dress code for devotees and all other visitors to temples under control of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department in the state. Justices V. Ramasubramanian and N. Kirubakaran stayed the order while admitting an appeal filed by the HR&CE department and one G. Sarika of Southern Districts Women's Federation.

This is the second appeal on the issue. The state government had earlier filed an appeal challenging the single judge's order on several grounds, including the correctness of compelling temple goers to adhere to a dress code. It had said individual temples were free to prescribe separate dress codes according to their customs.

In her appeal, Sarika claimed the dress code was against an individual's right to wear clothing of his or her choice. Alleging that the single judge's order was "highly discriminatory," the appellant claimed that the restrictions imposed by the judge "are against the fundamental rights, particularly of women and children".

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Once Banned from Temples, This Hindu Sect Has Still Found a Way to Worship Lord Ram

Posted on 2016/1/13 19:32:45 ( 1134 reads )

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INDIA, January 12, 2016 (dna India): Mahettar Ram Tandon is still proud of the indelible message he carries almost five decades after he had the name of the Hindu God Ram tattooed over his entire body. Tandon is part of the Ramnami Samaj religious movement in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, one of India's poorest regions. Denied entry to temples and forced to use separate wells, low-caste Hindus in the Chhattisgarh first tattooed their bodies and faces more than 100 years ago as an act of defiance and devotion.

Ramnamis wrote Ram's name on their bodies as a message to higher-caste Indians that God was everywhere, regardless of a person's caste or social standing. Nowadays the tattoos of Ramnamis, who number 100,000 or more and live in dozens of villages spread across at least four districts of Chhattisgarh state, are usually on a smaller scale. Since the banning of caste-based discrimination in India in 1955, the lives of many lower-caste Indians have improved, villagers said.

As young Ramnamis today also travel to other regions to study and look for work, younger generations usually avoid full-body tattoos. Children born in the community are still required to be tattooed somewhere on their body, preferably on their chest, at least once by the age of two. According to their religious practices, Ramnamis do not drink or smoke, must chant the name "Ram" daily and are exhorted to treat everybody with equality and respect.

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White Cobras Bless Mahalaksmi Kovil In Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Posted on 2016/1/13 19:32:35 ( 1164 reads )

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JAFFNA, SRI LANKA ,January 12, 2016 : Two white cobras have blessed the Mahalakshmi Kovil on Ekadasi day Wednesday 6th January 2016, in Clock Tower Road Junction at the corner of Mahatma Gandhi and Sir W Duraiswamy Roads. It is called the "Thanga Chakra Yoga Maha Lakshmi Kovil." Around 1915, under a holy panneer tree was a sacred granite rock that was revered by the local family and others who visited the place to receive dry food offerings from the home of a lawyer and philanthropist, Sir W. Duraiswamy. He later became a well known public figure. He was an ardent devotee of Paramaguru Yoga Swamigal.This place was frequently visited by Paramaguru Siva Yoga Swamigal. Mahatma Gandhi has also visited this place. This unique Mahalakshmi Kovil, the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka, has been rebuilt last year with the idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, Goddess Mahalakshmi (as the main sanctum- Moolasthaanam).

On the day of Ekadasi on 6 January 2016, after the Lords Narasimha and Lord Sudharsana were re-established in the Mahalakshmi Kovil in the heart of Jaffna opposite the main Clock Tower, two white Cobras were seen with dancing heads next to the Goddess Mahalakshmi, Lord Yoga Narasimha and Lord Sudharsana (Chakkaraththaalwar) respectively. Mr. Ushanthan who witnessed this at around 1.30 pm on 6th January remained motionless and enjoyed this rare occurrence. It is interpreted that this would bring prosperity to devotees and remove all obstacles leading to sustainable well-being to all Sri Lankans. A new era of Prosperity for the people is predicted to commence in 2016.

A special feature event at this Kovil is that "Good Thoughts," "Natchinthanai" from the words of Paramaguru Siva Yogar Swamigal ( the most enlightened soul who passed away in 1965) is sung daily at 5.00 pm by ardent devotees.

For more information email: chakrakovil@gmail.com or aka04@hotmail.com

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Is Veganism a Religion?

Posted on 2016/1/13 19:32:25 ( 941 reads )

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GERMANY, January 12, 2016 (Religion Watch): As a radical stream of vegetarianism, veganism--that refuses any product of animal origin, including eggs, milk or honey--bears many of the marks of a religious belief, writes German Protestant theologian Kai M. Funkschmidt in a two-part article in the November and December issues of Materialdienst der EZW. Funkschmidt understands veganism as a kind of substitute for religion. Veganism was born in the 1940s, with the foundation of the Vegan Society in London in 1944. Like vegetarianism, some of its promoters associated it with specific religious views. More significantly, however, it has found a home in movements concerned about the environment and animal rights. While veganism used to make up a subsection of the vegetarian movement, and remains a smaller part of vegetarianism, it is growing and now attracting wider interest (as is evidenced by the large number of books of vegan cooking). It goes beyond a small, committed milieu. Berlin has become a kind of "vegan capital" of Europe, with 36 vegan restaurants already open by 2013.

Ethical vegans consider food as an issue of "right behavior", with consequences not only for oneself, but for the world as well. Funkschmidt identifies several features of ethical veganism that come close to religion. First, an aspiration toward individual health and healing. It also includes a notion of universal salvation; thanks to veganism, the world is supposed to overcome hunger and live in peace. Conversion is another feature, with many vegans having reported the experience of a "moment of awakening."

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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/1/13 19:32:14 ( 826 reads )

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God is within you. He has no eyes, no ears, but we place Him outside and worship. God has become father, mother and guru. God has become this mango tree also. God has become you and He has become I.
-- Satguru Yogaswami (1872-1964), Sri Lanka's most revered contemporary mystic

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Green Light For Live Music at Thaipusam

Posted on 2016/1/12 19:36:47 ( 1134 reads )

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SINGAPORE, January 11, 2016 (News Asia): Live music will be allowed for this year's Thaipusam street procession for the first time in more than four decades. The Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) and the police said yesterday that musicians, who have been given approval, can play specified traditional instruments at three points along the route.The instruments are the nadaswaram horn, the tavil drum and the Indian drum. The decision to relax the rules comes after 10 feedback sessions conducted by the board with 116 members of the Hindu community over a period of two months, ending in April. All participants shared that music is important to the festival with 65 per cent wanting traditional auspicious Indian instruments to be part of the religious event.

A ban has been in place since 1973 that restricts the playing of musical instruments due to a history of rivalry and fights between competing groups which disrupted the procession. The authorities have allowed music to be transmitted over broadcast systems at several designated points along the procession since 2012. Despite the ban, devotees have been playing instruments on the streets over the years.

HEB chairman R. Jayachandran described the Government's acceptance of the board's recommendations as a "historical first step"."It shows that the authorities are taking the concerns and needs of the community seriously," he said.

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