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Last Bathing Day of Magh Mela Witnesses Five Million Devotees
Posted on 2015/2/6 18:33:08 ( 1521 reads )

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ALLAHABAD, INDIA February 4, 2015 (Times of India): More than five million devotees including seers and kalpwasis (pilgrims to this festival), took the last holy bath in Ganga on the occasion of Maghi Purnima on Tuesday, marking the end of the month-long Magh Mela. The day also marked the end of Hindu month of Magh and the month-long kalpwas (kalpa or ritual is one of 6 disciplines traditionally associated with the study of the Vedas). The majority of kalpwasis, performing the rituals and seeking salvation on the banks of Ganga for the past month, left the Mela area after taking the holy bath.

SP, Mela, Neeraj Pandey told TOI, "No untoward incident was reported, and the last bath passed off peacefully. Heavy rush was witnessed at all the 11 ghats since Monday night and more than 4.3 million devotees had taken holy bath till 4pm."

Since the number of devotees kept on increasing on the occasion of Maghi Purnima, the police officials didn't let anyone stay on the ghats for a long time. However, this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the pilgrims, who arrived from across the state including from neighboring districts like Pratapgarh Bhadohi, Mirzapur and Kaushambi.

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Seychelles Hindu Devotees show their Mettle at Thaipoosam Kavadi Festival
Posted on 2015/2/6 18:33:02 ( 1600 reads )

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VICTORIA, SEYCHELLES, February 4, 2015 (Seychelles News Agency): Hindus from all over the world celebrate the annual Thaipoosam Kavadi Festival, and the island archipelago of the Seychelles, located in the western Indian Ocean, is no different. Devotees of the Hindu Deity Lord Muruga flocked into the streets of the nation's tiny capital, Victoria, on the main island of Mahe on Tuesday to partake in the colorful event to the fascination of onlookers. The Seychelles, with its population of 90,000, has a small minority (around four percent) of permanent Indian inhabitants. The Indian community is among some of the earliest settlers of the Seychelles islands, mostly from southern Tamil Nadu and some from the north-western province of Gujarat.

The Hindu Kovil Sangam, the local religious organisation for most Hindus in the country, invited the public to participate in the procession, which ended off at the Navasakthi Vinayagar temple dedicated to Lord Muruga, the warrior Deity followed primarily by Hindus of Tamil origin. The festival is observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil people, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, Guadalupe, Reunion, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.

On the morning of the festival, male devotees shaved their heads and proceeded along the narrow streets of Victoria lined with onlookers while carrying various types of kavadi. The simplest type of kavadi is a pot of milk, but they commonly entail elaborate and colorful frames pulled or balanced by means of skewers or hooks pierced into the flesh. When the procession finally arrives at the temple, the devotees offered pots of milk to anoint Lord Muruga and to pray for His blessings.

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Super Bowl Winning Quarterback Tom Brady Keeps a Ganesha Statue in His Locker
Posted on 2015/2/6 18:32:56 ( 2091 reads )

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA, February 2, 2015 (USA Today): [Tom Brady is the quarterback of the New England Patriots American football team which had just won the Superbowl.]

When Tom Brady reached his locker, about an hour after victory and a series of interviews, he was done talking to the news media.

But his locker spoke for him. Prominently displayed was was a four-inch bronze elephant-headed statue -- Ganesha, the Hindu God. Or as Brady quietly told a visitor, "The Remover of Obstacles."

Two team officials shielded him from the news media with the same intensity that the New England Patriots offensive line protected him from the Seattle Seahawks. "Tom's done," one shouted as the MVP-winning quarterback arrived. But the locker spoke. Ganesha, remover of obstacles, almost beckoned to the curious.

Ganesha illustrates the spiritual side of his psyche developed with trainer and adviser Alex Guerrero. But the spiritual is coupled by mental commitment, evidence by more items in his locker. Lying next to Ganesha were five note cards and handwritten notes that included: "Bend knees more on drop." And, perhaps most important, "Be on toes."


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/2/6 18:32:50 ( 962 reads )

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According as one acts, so does he become. One becomes virtuous by virtuous action, bad by bad action.
-- Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5

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Releasing Hindu Temples From The Clutches of Indian Government
Posted on 2015/2/5 16:20:00 ( 1254 reads )

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INDIA, February 3, 2015 (By Rajiv Malik, for HPI and Hinduism Today magazine): a large number of NGO's representatives, social activists and intellectuals participated in a one-day conference on the subject- "Towards a Rational Government Policy for NGO's," organized by Indic Studies Network, Centre For The Study of Developing Societies [CSDS] at Delhi's prestigious India International Centre on Saturday, January 31st, 2015.

There was a near consensus that all the NGO's in India must complete the requisite formalities as laid down for them by law and that they must work transparently and put all the details of their accounts on their websites for public perusal and scrutiny. Government on its side must have a clear cut and rational policy so that those working within the framework of law can function in a smooth manner. There is a need to clearly define what constitutes "anti-national" so that there is no harassment of select NGO's due to lack of clarity on this account.

Though there was a heated discussion on whether or not NGO's should accept donations from international agencies, in view of their having to serve the interest of these agencies, in many cases, no clear consensus could be arrived on this as there were many who were in favor of foreign aid as getting aid from the government in India was pretty cumbersome and time consuming. There was also a feeling that if the foreign donations were spent on good projects and were helpful to various communities, they should be welcomed.

Expressing her views, Madhu Purnima Kishwar, Professor, CSDS and founder of Manushi magazine and Manushi Forum For Women's Rights and Democratic Reforms, strongly opposed the dependence of Indian NGO's on foreign money, said, " Right from the very inception of Manushi in 1978 we decided not to be tied to the apron strings of international donors and even to our government for that matter. It was very tough and some said a very foolhardy decision as we started Manushi with a mere 800 rupees of our own contribution. Even this sum was a princely sum keeping in view that my own monthly salary in those days was around 600 rupees. We also took an unusual decision to not accept any commercial advertisements and depend just on the subscriptions and support of our readers."

According to Madhu, "Since Manushi was set up to bring social and political reforms in India I felt that the resources to do our work should be raised from within India and from resources generated from Indians. To go with a begging bowl to the international donors for fixing up the ills of our society was against my pride as an Indian. For Manushi, I received some generous offers from Ford Foundation but decided not to accept them. My own view was that our activism was rootless if it did not get financial and moral support from those in the society for the welfare of whom we intended to work. This will also make us accountable for the very people on whose behalf we act. While we decided not to accept aid from foreign agencies, we accepted and were lucky to get a stream of highly qualified and dedicated volunteers to work for us from all over the world. They came at their own cost and even did not expect a modest honorarium from us. However I do not expect other NGO's and every one to choose this rather tough and uphill path which I chose for Manushi. However I am open to receive a modest sum from the non resident Indians."

Madhu maintained, "Unfortunately the Forign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA-http://mha1.nic.in/fcra.htm) has been used for long as a vicious instrument for arm twisting of NGO's and both of NDA and UPA have been acting against some select NGO's in a ham-handed manner.

Prof Vaidyanathan of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, reeled off some very interesting figures on the number of NGO's in India and pointed out that the number of NGO's per capita was higher than the number of police personnel." For every 535 Indians there was an NGO but there was a police man only for 940 Indians", he said and went on to say, "only ten percent of the total around 22 lakh NGO's filed income tax returns." Prof Vaidyanathan said that India was not expected to learn the importance of donation from the west as giving was an essential part of our culture."

John Dayal, former senior journalist and representative of All-India Christian Association in his remarks said that though he may not agree with the philosophy of RSS but he saluted them for being the biggest NGO of the world.

Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation said, "In the USA there is a large number of NGO's and other institutions which study what is happening in India and keep an eye on the various socio-political and religious developments. Many of them are misrepresenting the data and the facts they collect from various sources, pursuing their own vested interests and agenda. I would suggest that the Indian NGO's must also set up their branches in USA to understand how they are monitoring India and set right some of the misgivings and falsehood that is spread against India."

Expressing his views Dr. J.K. Bajaj said, "Hindu Temples are also one of the biggest chain of NGO's in the world and they truly function thus, meeting the socio-cultural and religious aspirations of the Indian masses. It is gross injustice to give the control of thousands of Hindu temples to the government officials and bureaucrats who do not utilize the full potential of the kind of socio-religious work that could be done by the temples for the welfare of the community. Hindu temples should be freed from the clutches of government and allowed to function independently as NGO's."

Bajaj concluded by stating, "We need no lecturing from the west and their animal right activists on how to humanely treat the animals. Anyone who has seen how Hindus treat and worship the cows can understand how reverentially we not only treat just the animals but the whole universe and connect to it."

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Malaysian Hindus Mark Thaipusam
Posted on 2015/2/5 16:20:00 ( 1021 reads )

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MALAYSIA, February 3, 2015 (Bangkok Post): More than a million Hindus thronged temples throughout Malaysia on Tuesday to celebrate Thaipusam, a colorful annual religious festival. Celebrations in the capital Kuala Lumpur centered, as they have for 125 years, on the spectacular Batu caves complex on the city's outskirts, which many Hindus walked up to ten hours to reach in an annual pilgrimage.

Bearing gifts for the Deity Murugan, countless yellow-robed devotees carried milk pots or coconuts -- the latter of which are smashed as offerings. Others took part in the 9-mile procession of a silver chariot from a temple in the city centre to the caves -- an important religious site for Tamil Hindus -- capped by the final 272-step climb to a temple in the limestone outcropping.

Celebrated also in India, Singapore and other areas with significant Hindu Tamil communities, the festival is marked with particular relish in multi-cultural Malaysia. Many show their fervor by bearing the elaborately decorated frames called Kavadi that can weigh as much as 220 lbs. and are typically affixed to a person's body using sharp metal spikes dug into their flesh in a form of penance. About 1.6 million people were expected to visit the Batu caves on Tuesday, which also draws tens of thousands of tourists.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/2/5 16:18:48 ( 999 reads )

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Whatever defect I have in my sight, in my heart or mind, may God amend! May he, the Protector of the world, bless us!
-- Yajur Veda 36.2

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Dance Card: The Passing of the Master of Kathak, Chitresh Das, Left His Mourning Followers Prepared to Carry On
Posted on 2015/2/1 18:32:51 ( 1635 reads )

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BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, January 31, 2015 (Times Herald): The unexpected death of 70-year-old Kathak master Chitresh Das on January 4 is a calamity for the world of dance, but it's a disaster for which he prepared his disciples well. A performer of earthy exuberance and exquisite control, he was the driving force in spreading knowledge and appreciation of Kathak, the North Indian classical dance form. Teaching at first from the Ali Akbar College of Music and since 1979 at his own expansive Chhandam School of Kathak, he often put his performing career on the back burner to concentrate on inculcating Kathak's movements, rhythms and epic tales to new generations, artists he assiduously prepared to take his place.

"As a guru, he talked about his death on a regular basis," says Rachna Nivas, a principal dancer in the Chitresh Das Dance Company (CDDC) and director of Das' Chhandam School. "It became quite normalized. Four days before he passed he asked 'What will you do tomorrow if I die today?', which wasn't unusual. What he was doing was constantly reminding us that this is not about receiving this energy from him. It's about invoking and generating that energy ourselves. He was preparing me for this day."

While the school and dance company are still reeling from Das' death, there was never any question about canceling performances. The CDDC presents "Shiva" at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley on March 28-29, continuing the strong ties that Das forged with Cal Performances over the years.

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Newcastle Hindu Healer Babaji Davender Ghai Reignites Funeral Pyre Plans
Posted on 2015/2/1 18:32:45 ( 1689 reads )

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UNITED KINGDOM, February 1, 2015 (Chronicle Live): A Hindu healer who fought to legalize open-air cremations is ready to make them commonplace -- five years after winning a landmark court battle. Babaji Davender Ghai spent years battling the system and almost went bankrupt fighting to make funeral pyres legal.

Mr. Ghai, president of the Newcastle-based Anglo Asian Friendship Society, said: "We, as a society, are offering people the chance to stick to their beliefs and have an open-air cremation; a funeral pyre. "We will do this as a charity, for free. They only need to find the land." "It is a service that Hindus, Sikhs and others deserve to have if they so wish, he said."

Judges said they can be carried out as long as the cremation is conducted in an enclosed building away from the public's gaze and abides by environmental regulations. But shortly after the ruling the vision of Mr. Ghai, now 76, hit a set-back as the trials and tribulations of an arduous battle caused him ill health, resulting in a minor stroke. Speaking from his home in Gosforth, he said: "After we won the fight I got too ill to carry on my work. Now, I have been healed back to full health and am pressing on with what all our hard work earned us the right to do.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/2/1 18:32:35 ( 1614 reads )

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As you pray to God for devotion, so also pray that you may not find fault with anyone.
-- Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886)

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Website Addresses Issues with How India is Portrayed in California K-12 Schools
Posted on 2015/1/31 15:42:28 ( 2210 reads )

http://californiahindus.org/">Source

FREMONT, CALIFORNIA, January 31, 2015 (press release): Hinduism as presented in California's current 6th grade textbooks is lacking in accuracy, factual content and sensitivity. The 7th grade books don't mention India despite it producing 1/3rd of the world's gross domestic product during the time period (300 to 1700 ce).

The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) at California Department of Education (CDE) is presently undergoing a review of the states history and social sciences curriculum framework. This is something that happens just once in 10 years.

On this website, you can download various resources on the issue, as well as sign letters of support for changes in the Framework to improve the presentation of Indian history and Hinduism.

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Have We Reached "Peak Food"? Shortages Loom as Global Production Rates Slow
Posted on 2015/1/31 15:42:22 ( 1618 reads )

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UNITED KINGDOM, January 28, 2015 (Independent): The world has entered an era of "peak food" production with an array of staples from corn and rice to wheat and chicken slowing in growth - with potentially disastrous consequences for feeding the planet. New research finds that the supply of 21 staples, such as eggs, meat, vegetables and soybeans is already beginning to run out of momentum, while the global population continues to soar.

What makes the report particularly alarming is that so many crucial sources of food have peaked in a relatively short period of history, the researchers said. Peak production refers to the point at which the growth in a crop, animal or other food source begins to slow down, rather than the point at which production actually declines. However, it is regarded as a key signal that the momentum is being lost and it is typically only a matter of time before production plateaus and, in some cases, begins to fall - although it is unclear how long the process could take.

"Just nine or 10 plants species feed the world. But we found there's a peak for all these resources. Even renewable resources won't last forever," said Ralf Seppelt, of the Helmholtz Centre. The research, published in the journal Ecology and Society (http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss4/art50/), finds that 16 of the 21 foods examined reached peak production between 1988 and 2008.

More at 'source'.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/1/31 15:42:15 ( 1527 reads )

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For seven lives in seven bodies the grateful will remember friends who relieved their anguish and affliction.
-- Saint Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural, verse 107

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120-year-old Hindu Temple in Singapore Renovated
Posted on 2015/1/30 15:23:11 ( 2012 reads )

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SINGAPORE, January 25, 2015 (by Melody Zaccheus, NewsAsia): Hunched over trays in the kitchen of a Hindu temple, a platoon of 12 volunteers and four cooks would spend two back-breaking hours on Fridays and Sundays peeling pungent onions. But they will no longer shed tears, as a new machine in the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple's kitchen has cut the time taken to peel 30kg worth of onions to just two minutes. It will also eliminate the need for volunteers for the task. The automated peeler is one of six new pieces of equipment in the 120-year-old temple's new, state-of-the-art $500,000 kitchen.

The others include an automated vegetable cutter, an automated rice washer, and a combi-oven steamer that can produce 250 pieces of idli (steamed cakes) in 10 minutes. Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple's president, Dr R. Theyvendran, said the new kitchen will help speed up cooking operations to serve some 1,200 devotees, including foreign workers, who swing by on weekends for free vegetarian lunches and dinners.Its vice-chairman, Mr Prama Ganeshan, added: "We can now cook more elaborate meals for the elderly and the needy."

The machines were imported from places such as Germany and Taiwan, and a consultant from Gayatri Restaurant here was brought in for the project. The modernized kitchen is believed to be the first such facility in a temple here. The kitchen upgrade is part of a $4.5 million renovation throughout the temple's Ceylon Road premises that started last August. All Hindu temples undergo renovations and repairs every 12 years to re-energize their Deities.

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Use of Critically Endangered Medicinal Plants to be Phased Out
Posted on 2015/1/30 15:23:05 ( 1854 reads )

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INDIA, January 25, 2015 (The Hindu): In a few months, numerous "sought-after" ayurvedic medicines will be taken off the shelves as Karnataka Biodiversity Board (KBB) is phasing out the use of critically endangered medicinal plant species. Of the 425 plant species obtained from pharmaceutical companies, the board has reviewed 40 species that were put on the red list -- that is, endangered or vulnerable species -- of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

And of the 40 species, 20 have been declared as being "unsustainably exploited." The board has suggested phasing them out in a timeframe ranging from six months to two years. For instance, the use of the popular Ashoka tree, which is classified by the IUCN as "vulnerable", has been recommended for being phased out within six months. Nearly 15,337 tonnes of its bark, taken primarily from the Western Ghats, is used annually by pharma companies in the State.

"We will also recommend that companies be encouraged to take up cultivation of these species, instead of using them from the wild," said Mr. Sanjappa, former Director of Botanical Survey of India and a KBB member.


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