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Sashimani Devi's Death Brings End to Devadasi Tradition
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:31 ( 791 reads )

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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, March 26, 2015 (First Post): The death of Sashimani Devi, the last in a long line of devadasis at the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, marks the end of an era. Since Sashimani chose not to groom anybody as a future devadasi in her lifetime, as required under the temple rules, an 800-year-old tradition has now well and truly come to an end. While Sashimani might have been persuaded to relent and take someone under her wings, it was the vociferous protests by human and women's rights activists and the media which ensured that the efforts to find a devadasi were abandoned midway.

While liberals, rationalists and sundry right activists are exulting at the end of what they call an "obnoxious" tradition that exploited women in the name of religion, there are others - believers, servitors and even some researchers - who are sad at the end of a system that was such an integral part of the tradition for centuries.

Ironically, the death of Sashimani Devi has ensured that the service of the Lord will now be an all-male affair. Of the 120-odd sevas (services) performed in the temple, the Mahari Seva, consisting of dancing and singing the Gita Gobinda, on special occasions is the only one performed by women, the devadasis.

More at source.

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Glass Fiber Gaining Popularity in Making Temple Sculptures
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:16 ( 782 reads )

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INDIA, April 24, 2015 (The Hindu): Glass fiber ("fiberglass" in the West) has become the new cost effective and light weight medium for sculptures of new temples being constructed. Earlier temples were constructed with stones on which sculptures and carvings were made. With time, temples became concrete structures where stone sculptures or statues of concrete were used for outer and inner decoration. Recently several temples under construction in Berhampur and other parts of Ganjam district have started to use glass fiber sculptures to decorate.

A Budhi Thakurani temple under construction at Lochapada road of the city now boasts of a large statue of Goddess Durga made of glass fibre. It has been constructed by Dhruva Kumar Layak and his team, who preferred glass fiber as it could be created at a small cost of US$472. "Had the same sculpture been constructed with concrete it would have cost around $4,700 and much higher if in stone," said Mr Layak. According to Mr Layak, these glass fiber sculptures are easy to install and are more durable than concrete ones.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/25 2:56:07 ( 741 reads )

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He cannot be seen by the eye, and words cannot reveal Him. He cannot be reached by the senses, or by austerity or sacred actions. By the grace of wisdom and purity of mind, He can be seen, indivisible, in the silence of contemplation. This invisible Atman can be seen by the mind wherein the five senses are resting.
-- Atharva Veda

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Uttarakhand Tourist Department Aims to Revive Char Dham Economy
Posted on 2015/4/24 4:25:53 ( 877 reads )

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DEHRADUN, INDIA, April 22, 2015 (Times of India): Anil Shukla prays a lot these days. The 39-year-old father of three, who performs pujas for pilgrims at Kedarnath, has been praying fervently that the weather Gods remain benign, and the Char Dham Yatra, which began on April 21, draws in a lot of pilgrims this year. "The last two years were terrible. Earlier, we used to earn between US$3,100 and $4,750 for the six months that the yatra was on, but our incomes dipped to below $790 after the 2013 tragedy. This year at least, we hope that things look up," he says.

Like Shukla, there are many people across Uttarakhand who are voicing similar sentiments. According to state tourism department officials, the yatra provides direct and indirect employment to almost 50,000 people, and has the potential to earn revenues to the tune of $79 million to $158 million. This would make it not only the hill state's biggest annual religious extravaganza but also a massive employment generating exercise.

"The economy of a few thousand villages and some towns is dependent on the Char Dham Yatra," says Ravi Chopra, director of the People's Science Institute, a non-profit organization that takes up environmental and disaster mitigation issues. "I would estimate that there are almost 20,000 service providers for Kedarnath alone. These include priests, dhaba owners, chaiwallahs, mule operators, porters, snack sellers, sweepers ... the list is endless."

* The Char Dham Yatra is an annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The yatra began on April 21 this year with the opening of the Yamunotri shrine followed by Gangotri on April 22; Kedarnath opens on April 24, and Badrinath on April 26. Huge floods caused thousands of deaths of pilgrims in 2013 and immense loss of buildings, roads and bridges.

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Phuket History: When Hinduism Arrived from the Bay of Bengal
Posted on 2015/4/24 4:25:47 ( 927 reads )

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PHUKET, THAILAND, August 24, 2014 (Phuket News): Even when the centuries were still in single digits, the Andaman Coast was an economically active area. Along estuarine communities down the coast, Indian, Arab and Persian traders made connections with local rulers and merchants, and would often return to the same communities year after year, often waiting several months for the monsoon winds to turn. They would be allocated a home and a wife for their stay and duly begat mixed-race children. As with today's overseas visitors, some decided to stay permanently. And with them came their holy men, who spread Brahmin, Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

In the foyer of the Phuket History Museum in Thalang stands a large stone statue of the Hindu God Vishnu, found on the coast of Phang Nga in the 20th Century, confirming the early presence of Hinduism in the Phang Nga Bay area. Also, several ancient Hindu stone carvings have been recovered from Ko Pra Narai mountain, located on the old river trade route inland from Takuapa. Analysis of the stone has shown that these were made in India. Hinduism seems to have been dominant in and around Phuket for around a thousand years, from 500 BC to 500 AD. This ancient Hindu heritage can still be seen today when Thais greet each other with the word "Sawasdee" which derives from the Sanskrit word "Swastika", meaning "well-being".

More of this history at source.

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Trial Run of Big Temple Car a Success at Thanjavur
Posted on 2015/4/24 4:25:41 ( 873 reads )

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THANJAVUR, INDIA, April 22, 2015 (The Hindu): The new chariot of Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple here rolled out on its trial run gleaming under the early morning sun. The Big Temple finally got its chariot, the first in over a century as hundreds of eager townsmen, hailing the Lord, came together to draw the chariot. For all the people of Thanjavur, young and the elderly, it was their first glimpse of the Big Temple chariot run ritual as the temple never had experienced that chance in the last nearly 100 years. The new chariot, radiating the pleasant smell of fresh paint, commenced its journey on the four main thoroughfares preparing for its maiden run on April 29.

Earlier, Sivacharya priests performed special poojas and conducted rituals on the simhasanam, representing the Lord, and held over that a flashy umbrella as a mark of respect before waving the green flag as a sign to start pulling the chariot. Immediately, hundreds of devotees gathered for the occasion, reverentially picked up the huge ropes of the chariot and tugged at the car that wobbled and then instantly stabilized to give a perfect start. The giant wheels of the wooden car crushed sacred ash gourds, as a mark of tradition to ward off evil, at the starting mark and commenced their run.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/24 4:25:34 ( 738 reads )

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In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.
-- Appolonius of Tiana (2-97 ce), Greek philosopher and occultist. His work deeply influenced Western mysticism.

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Narendra Modi Listed on Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World"
Posted on 2015/4/23 3:49:06 ( 1092 reads )

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, April 16, 2015 (Time): HPI Note: When Time publishes its yearly list of most influential people, they ask other prominent people to write up a short bio of the selected person explaining why they have received the honor. In the case of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Barack Obama provided the following text which was published by Time:

"India's reformer-in-chief

"As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he's the leader of the world's largest democracy, and his life story--from poverty to Prime Minister--reflects the dynamism and potential of India's rise.

"Determined to help more Indians follow in his path, he's laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India's true economic potential while confronting climate change. Like India, he transcends the ancient and the modern--a devotee of yoga who connects with Indian citizens on Twitter and imagines a "digital India."

"When he came to Washington, Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect. Prime Minister Modi recognizes that more than 1 billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world."

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BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir Hosts Women's Conference
Posted on 2015/4/23 3:49:00 ( 948 reads )

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CHINO HILLS, CALIFORNIA, April 21, 2015 (India West): This year, BAPS hosted its ninth annual Women's Conference that recently took place at 11 centers across North America to inspire Indian American women to pursue leadership positions while making a commitment to take other women along with them. The conference, themed "Moving Forward," focused on creating positive change that starts from within. On March 14, over 500 women gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir here to participate in the annual conference. 'Moving Forward' covered three key concepts: compassion, forgiveness, and perseverance.

The conference speeches began with keynote speaker Aparna Hande, honored as the 56th Assembly District "Woman of the Year" in 2012 by Assembly member Tony Mendoza. She praised the BAPS community of women, saying, "These women are driven by compassion and forgiveness to work together towards common solutions." Among the honored guests in attendance were Manisha Sulakhe, an accomplished chemist, dancer, and active community leader; Depti Patel, an experienced IT professional; Alka Patel, civil engineer, businesswoman, and president of UFICA; and Anu Jain, director, Operations and Outreach, at SAHARA.

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Auckland Gets New Zealand's First Shri Ram Mandir
Posted on 2015/4/23 3:48:53 ( 937 reads )

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, April 15, 2015 (Indian Weekender): At 11 Brick Street in Henderson is the almost finished version of Shri Ram temple that Auckland will soon witness. New Zealand has seen Shiv Temple, Hanuman Temple, Sai Temple and Balaji Temple in the past, but the Shri Ram Temple is the first to be constructed in New Zealand. The foundation of the Mandir which covers an area of 2,366 square metres was laid in July 2012 in front of the devotees and in three years' time the Mandir is ready to be open for the devotees.

The Shri Ram Mandir will not just be a temple but will also have a huge community hall since there are no such community centres in the West Auckland area and Indian marriages and religious functions require a vast area to accommodate its people. According to plans the temple is set to be inaugurated on June 6 starting with a weeklong puja until June 12, 2015. During this time there will be prayers in the afternoon and cultural programs in the evening comprising all the cultures of India, including Karakia by Maori priests. A crowd of more than 5,000 from all over North Island are expected to be seen during the opening week of the Shri Ram Mandir.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/23 3:48:47 ( 787 reads )

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How can one realize that which alone is real? All we need to do is to give up our habit of regarding as real that which is unreal. Reality alone will remain, and we will be That.
-- Sri Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950), South Indian mystic

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Malaysia Hindu Temple Assets Mismanaged, Says Lawyer
Posted on 2015/4/22 4:19:48 ( 1040 reads )

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, April 17, 2015 (The Malaysian Insider): Lawyer M. Manoharan is seeking a court declaration that the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevastanam Kuala Lumpur, reputedly the richest Hindu organization in the country, must be for the benefit of the entire community. In a suit filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry today, the former Kota Alam Shah assemblyman also wants the temple chairman Tan Sri R. Nadaraja to be removed for failing to administer the organisation as a charitable, cultural, religious and educational trust. In addition, Manoharan wants the High Court to set aside a 1930 Supreme Court order that the temple was a charitable trust for the benefit of a select group of people.

The Batu Caves temple which is the nation's main venue during the Thaipusam festival, is among 19 movable and immovable properties worth about US$550 million owned by the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevastanam. Manoharan said Nadaraja has abused his power by remaining as temple chairman for about 30 years. Manoharan, who is represented by lawyer P. Uthayakumar, said the tenure of all future temple chairman should be limited to two terms or four years. "All Malaysian Hindus should have the right to elect the temple management committee which is not the case now," he added.

More at source.

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Movie Made on Swami Chinmayananda
Posted on 2015/4/22 4:19:42 ( 1145 reads )

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NEW YORK, U.S., April 11, 2015 (Indian Panorama by Chandni Trivedi): Swami Chinmayananda was one of the world's most renowned and revered exponents of Vedanta, the foundation of Hindu religion and culture. His life is a story of an unconventional seeker -- a mischievous child, a rebellious youth, a revolutionary freedom fighter, a witty journalist and even a daring atheist. The movie, "On a Quest" made on the life and vision of Swami Chinmayananda is worth watching. It is not a religious film but a story about transformation and the quest for truth.

Made by the Chinmaya Mission to mark the birth centenary celebrations of Swami Chinmayananda, the two-hour film directed by noted Director R.S. Prasanna very succinctly brings to life the journey of the young atheist Balakrishna Menon as he transforms from being a fiery revolutionary, sceptical academician, questioning journalist into a seeker with an ardent quest for the truth finally becoming a visionary master carrying the message of the rishis to the masses across the world.

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Hawaii - First State to Officially Recognize Gandhi's Birthday
Posted on 2015/4/22 4:19:36 ( 1327 reads )

www.gandhianpeace.com

HONOLULU, HAWAII, April 20, 2015 (Gandhi International Institute for Peace): On April 9, 2015, when Governor David Ige signed SB 332 into law, Hawaii becomes the first state to officially commemorate Mohandas K. Gandhi who earned worldwide recognition for his methods of nonviolence. The bill, officially known as ACT 005, does not create a new state holiday, but does set aside each October 2nd, Gandhi's birthday, as a day of commemoration.

The foundation for the Gandhi International Institute for Peace was laid after terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. One of the major goals of this Peace institute is to promote World Peace. For years, in pursuit of this goal, the Peace Institute has been raising awareness towards nonviolence in Hawaii.

In June 2007, when the United Nations designated October 2 as a day of Nonviolence, Dr. Raj Kumar organized a Peace March, which was supported by 23 organizations. Thousands of people joined the march in solidarity and walked from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park in Honolulu. Since then, the Gandhi International Institute for Peace has organized annual peace conferences, and multi cultural events, building bridges with various organizations in Hawaii and around the world. According to Dr. Kumar "Hawaii is a melting pot, where people from different ethnic backgrounds and different faiths live in harmony. Hawaii and its people have become a role model for the rest of the world by sharing the Aloha spirit with one another and with visitors when they travel to this very special place."

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/22 4:19:30 ( 656 reads )

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Life is meant for God-realization. If you die without attaining God-realization, your life is in vain. Even having one hundred gurus will not help, unless the disciple has a great desire for liberation and tries to get rid of all that stands in the way.
-- Swami Chidananda (1916-2008), President of Divine Life Society

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