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Hindu girl forced to convert to Islam April 24, 2010

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Posted: Apr 23, 2010 at 1755 hrs IST

Islamabad

A Hindu girl from Punjab province was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and is currently being held in a madrassa, leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney said today.

Burney said his rights organisation, the Ansar Burney Trust International, had learnt that 15-year-old Gajri, the daughter of Mengha Ram, was abducted by a Muslim neighbour from her home at Katchi Mandi, Liaquatpur, in Rahim Yar Khan district on December 21, 2009.

Gajri’s parents later found out that she was beingheld captive in a madrassa or seminary in southern Punjab and that she had been married and converted to Islam, Burney said.

The local administration is “refusing to respond to the abduction” of the girl, who is not being allowed to leave the madrassa or to speak to her parents, he said.

Burney, a former human rights minister, condemned the forceful conversion of the Hindu girl and demanded her immediate release.

“Pakistan is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which oblige authorities to protect religious minorities under international law,” he said.

According to Ansar Burney Trust, on 21 December 2009 Gajri disappeared from the home of her Hindu parents in southern Punjab.

On December 26 last year, the local police station in Gajri’s hometown received a letter with an affidavit from madrassa that said she had “embraced Islam and had married her neighbour Mohammad Salim”, Burney said. The letter did not enclose a marriage certificate, he said.

Police did not immediately inform Gajri’s parents about the letter even though they had tried to file a First Information Report after she had gone missing. The parents were discouraged from doing so by police, Burney said.

Mengha Ram and his wife then contacted the vice president of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony, Ramesh Jay Pal. With his help, the parents met the priest in charge of Darul-Uloom Madrassa in Khanpur, Maulana Abdul Hafeez. Hafeez reportedly told the parents that Gajri had “embraced Islam and was not allowed to meet her parents”.

In January this year, the parents of Gajri again tried to file a case of abduction against their neighbour and the madrassa but their application was refused by district police chief Imtiaz Gul. He allegedly told them that he had no power to intervene in matters of religious conversion and that their daughter was now the “property of the madrassa”, Burney said.

Burney said Gajri is a minor and “cannot arbitrarily be removed from the custody of her parents”. He urged President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer to intervene to ensure Gajri’s released.

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Hindu-girl-forced-to-convert-to-Islam/610492/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+expressindia%2FiKgY+(Expressindia)

Vedic wedding in city for US-born couples October 6, 2009

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Viju B, TNN 6 October 2009, 04:11am IST

MUMBAI: Amy Pearce blushed into her pallu as Rohini Kumar, parikarmi (master of ceremonies), chanted a Sanskrit mantra and then translated it into 
English: “This means you will have to take good care of all your cows.’’ He then added helpfully: “Hope you have many cows in your backyard.’’

Pearce sat cross-legged besides her 6-foot, 4-inch bridegroom, Mark Terza, a physiotherapist-turned-yoga fanatic, blinking as the thick havan smoke enveloped the hall. But they weren’t the only Americans getting hitched in desi style in Mumbai. Beside them sat yet another couple—New York-based builder T J Macchiaroli and Melinda Pizzano, who runs a flourishing upcountry spa in Putnam County in New York.

The couples garlanded each other amidst Vedic chants at the Radha Gopinath Temple at Chowpatty on Monday morning. The guests of honour were 14 other yoga enthusiasts, also from the US of A, brought to India on a whirlwind 13-day spiritual tour by group leader Reghunath. “This is a historic first for Mumbai. Although we’ve had many such Vedic weddings for Indian couples in the past, this is the first time two American couples have decided to take the plunge into Indian culture together. And it all began after they started doing yoga,’’ Radha Gopinath Temple founder Radhanath Swami said.

Pearce and Terza had decided to get married in India after they met two years ago. And, while doing that, they affirmed that yoga was the “organic thread’’ that united them. “She was my yoga guru and I fell in love with my guru. I hope that is okay,’’ Terza, now a partner in his wife’s yoga school in New York, said laughingly.

They aren’t the flower children of the 1970s or the 1980s. “We don’t do drugs, we don’t drink and we don’t touch alcohol. Neither are we into Floyd or Dylan. We, follow, instead, the scientific principle of living that is mentioned in Patanjali’s Yogasutra,’’ guru Pearce explained. Macchiaroli and Melinda, on the other hand, knew each other from school but “both of us went our separate ways till I came back to learn yoga from her’’ says the bridegroom.

Swami even made a small speech at the wedding, explaining that even Mahatma Gandhi had problems in his marriage. “But everything great does not come easy. You can easily have a one-night stand. But if a marriage has to survive, it needs to be based on a higher principle,’’ he said.

Yoga, according to him, unites people’s souls. “The Americans are now slowly moving towards the next step, that is understanding Indian spirituality and culture through yoga,’’ he said.

The group travelled to pilgrimage destinations like Haridwar, Devaprayag and Vrindavan, took a holy dip in the Ganga and even interacted with “spiritual masters’’ in the Himalayas for this initiation. “The greatest experience I had in my life was at Devaprayag, where we prayed into the twilight chanting Hare Krishna. I understood then what yoga really meant—the union of myself with the cosmic soul,’’ Ameliese Savchak, an HR manager with Pepsico and a yoga practitioner for the last three years, said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/mumbai/Vedic-wedding-in-city-for-US-born-couples/articleshow/5092182.cms

UP to reward inter-religion, inter-caste marriages October 5, 2009

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PTI 5 October 2009, 05:32pm IST

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh government will give cash incentive and interest-free loan to couples opting for inter-caste or inter-religion

marriages to set up cottage industries, a national integration departemnt spokesman said here on Monday.

“On application, such couples may get interest-free loan of upto Rs 15,000 subject to approval by the district industries centre,” he

said.

The loan sanctioned will be payable after a period of two years in 10 equal half-yearly installments.

“Such couples will also get a cash reward of Rs 10,000 and a medal,” the spokesman said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/UP-to-reward-inter-religion-inter-caste-marriages/articleshow/5090640.cms

Kerala Dalit group under scanner: police October 5, 2009

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Indo-Asian News Service
Kochi, September 29, 2009

The Kerala police are looking into the activities of a Dalit organisation after two of its key leaders were arrested in a murder case, an official said in Kochi on Monday.

Speaking about the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM), Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose told reporters in Kochi, “We know of this organization but we have to probe whether they have any terror links.” Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy criticised the police for not doing enough to curb the activities of DHRM.

He was speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram after visiting the house of Sivaprasad, a resident of Varkala who was brutally murdered allegedly by a DHRM activist last Wednesday.

DHRM has a strong base in Varkala, especially among the numerous colonies where Dalits live.

“It is unfortunate that the Kerala home department failed to find out the activities of the DHRM. Even though there have been increased reports of DHRM taking to violence, the police failed to act. At the same time, one should not brand all Dalits in this manner,” said Chandy.

Two activists of the DHRM arrested on Sunday were remanded in judicial custody on Monday. Those arrested include Ashokan, an advocate, and Das – both key leaders of DHRM.

Meanwhile, Sasi, a resident of one of the colonies where DHRM has a strong presence, told reporters that while his close relatives had joined the DHRM, he had not.

“Since I refused to join them, I was badly beaten up by my own brother, though we never had any enmity before,” said Sasi, who ekes out a living doing odd jobs. Another person from the same place said the activities of DHRM are quite strange.

“The members of this group, even if they belong to the same family, address each other in a different manner. Their ideology too sounded strange and was not acceptable to me and I stayed away,” said the person.

Kumari was in tears as she recounted to reporters how her son was brutally beaten up by members of DHRM after he refused to join them.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/459116.aspx

Govt looks to ensure Muslims, Christians don’t get into SC list October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations, Hindu Rights Register.
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Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN 9 October 2008, 04:43am IST

NEW DELHI: The proposal to give Scheduled Caste status to a child with either parents as Dalit has taken a curious turn, with the Centre making changes to ensure that it does not give a backdoor entry to Christians and Muslims into the SC list which is restricted to Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.

Social justice ministry has revived the proposal by which it plans to make a child eligible for SC status if either the mother or father are SC. It seeks to undo a Supreme Court ruling that caste in Indian context flows from the father, clarifying that child of a non-Dalit father cannot be a Dalit.

After hanging fire for over two years, during which it attracted opposition from different quarters including National Commission for SCs, the ministry has modified the proposal with a small twist of real consequence.

The earlier draft merely said “the child born of inter-caste marriage shall be taken as belonging to SC if either of the parents belong to that community”. It has now been modified to include that “if either of the parent belong to such a caste (SC) and the other parent belongs to neither SC nor ST but professes one of the religions which a person belonging to SC may profess”.

The fresh move means that SC status to children from mixed parentage would require the non-Dalit parent to be either Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh. Only the followers of these three faiths are eligible for SC status.

The change, sources said, is to accommodate concerns over the proposal. It was feared that if SC status was made available to a child from mixed parentage, it could undo the religion barrier put on being a Dalit. While Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam have been demanding that SC category be extended to them, the Centre has found it too sensitive to handle. It was feared that Hindutva outfits would oppose the move as they have been arguing that making Dalit status religion-neutral would encourage conversions.

If a child with either parent as Dalit was given SC status without a bar of religion, it would be tantamount to encouraging the same, it was argued. The sensitivity of Dalit status for converts can be gauged from the fact that UPA government has it on the backburner after having set up Rangnath Mishra commission to examine it and having got a favourable recommendation.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Govt-looks-to-ensure-Muslims-Christians-dont-get-into-SC-list/articleshow/3575726.cms

Symbols akin to Indus valley culture discovered in Kerala October 5, 2009

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PTI 29 September 2009, 10:26am IST

KOZHIKODE (KERALA): A rock engraving indicating clear remnants of Harappan culture, has been found in the Edakkal caves in neighbouring Wayanad 
district, linking the Indus Valley civilisation with South India.

“There had been indications of remnants akin to the Indus Valley civilisation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but these new findings give credence to the fact that the Harappan civilisation had its presence in the region too and could trace the history of Kerala even beyond the Iron Age,” said historian M R Raghava Varier.

The unique symbols integral to the Indus Valley culture traced in Harappa and Mohanjedaro region that stretched up to Pakistan were found inside the caves during recent excavations by the State Archaeological Department.

Of the identified 429 signs, “a man with jar cup, a symbol unique to the Indus civilisation and other compound letters testified to remnants of the Harappan culture, spanning from 2300 BC to 1700 BC, in South India,” said Varier, who led the excavation at the caves.

The “man-with-the-jar” symbol, an integral remnant commonly traced in parts where the Indus Valley civilisation existed, has even more similarities than those traced in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he added.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/science/Symbols-akin-to-Indus-valley-culture-discovered-in-Kerala-/articleshow/5067025.cms

Singapore Fire Walking Festival 2009 October 5, 2009

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Singapore Fire Walking Festival 2009 – Theemidhi Ritual at Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore

The annual Fire Walking festival at the Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore attracts thousands of Hindu devotees, especially Tamilians from Singapore, India and Malaysia. Singapore Fire Walking Festival 2009 date is October 5 (Monday early morning as per Singapore Standard Time). The Theemidhi Ritual is dedicated to queen Draupadi of Mahabharata who is worshipped as Draupadi Amman in Tamil Culture.

Devotees perform the Theemidhi ritual for their wishes and prayers fulfilled by the Mother Goddess. Thousands of devotees have had their wishes fulfilled after praying at the Sri Mariamman Temple.

The main ritual during the fire walking ceremony involves walking over a four meter pit of burning coal specially prepared at the Mariamman Temple. The chief priest of Sri Mariamman Temple after special prayers and pujas walks over the burning coal and he is followed by those devotees who wish to take part in the ritual. Devotees young and old participate in the ritual.

The main ceremony begins at midnight (0100hrs) devotees take ritual bath at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and walk up to Mariamman Temple. All the important rituals associated with Tamil festivals are part of the fire walking ceremony.

One of the most striking aspects during the Theemidhi – Fire Walking Festival – is that all devotees come out of the coal bed without any burns

http://www.hindu-blog.com/2009/09/singapore-fire-walking-festival-2009.html

Science behind Hindu Fire Walking Ritual

Many devotees who partake in Hindu fire walking ritual do not get burned. There is also a popular belief that those who are blessed by Amman will not suffer burns. But in normal case, if a person walks on fire he/she will suffer burns. So what saves these ardent devotees of ‘Amman’?

1.Coal from wood has less thermal capacity. This means less heat is transferred to the feet while walking on fire.

2.The period of contact between burning coal and feet is for a very short period. Many people walk briskly.

3.The bed of burning coal is different from a metal sheet and there are numerous pores or vacant areas in a bed of coal.

4.The bed of burning coal is not a hard surface like a sheet of metal or road, as a person walks the coal displaces.

5.The ash from the coal acts as an insulator. The thick layer of ash on the coal bed is often hidden as the ritual is performed at night. The same bed of burning coal when viewed at day time will clearly show a layer of ash.

6.Many people believe that the entire exercise of fire walking is in the mind. Focus and courage are the two important aspects that help a person come out of the fire ritual unscathed.

It must be noted that several people get burned during fire walking ritual and it is better not practiced.

Posted by abhilash on 30.10.07  

http://www.hindu-blog.com/2007/10/science-behind-hindu-fire-walking.html

Embrace Islam, say YouTube ‘Shankaracharyas’ October 5, 2009

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Anuraag Singh, Hindustan Times
Varanasi, September 23, 2009

The likely successor to the Shankaracharya of northern and western India is very angry at popular web portal YouTube showing video clips of two ‘fake’ Shankaracharyas, one of who exhorts viewers to embrace Islam and the other explains why he converted to Islam.

He is so enraged that he has decided to seek the intervention of President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “on this burning issue”.

“We’re also seeking the opinion of experts to proceed legally against the web portal for featuring these video clips which are bound to hurt Hindu sentiments across the world,” Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati of the Jyotishpeeth and Shardapeeth told HT here on Wednesday.

The clips show one of the men dressed in a red robe and the other clad in white pyjamas and sleeveless half-coat, sporting a skull cap and thin beard.

One clip (of 9.20 minutes) shows an old man holding the signature stick of the first Shankaracharya going by the name and title of ‘Devanand Saraswati, Jagatguru Shankaracharya’.

He tells a gathering in Hindi that Islam is the greatest religion in the world and that the first verse of the Quran should motivate Hindus to convert to Islam. The man calls upon the whole world to adopt Islam, adding that those against Islam are devils. “I don’t love those who don’t love Muslims,” he says in the clip.

The second clip of over four minutes shows a young man going by the name of ‘Acharya Sanjay Prasad Dwivedi-turned-Ahmed Pandit’ and bearing the title of the ‘Varanasi Shankar Acharya (sic)’.

This man says in Hindi that he was a Hindu priest in Varanasi who delved deep into the study of the Quran for three years and converted to Islam. Strangely, he is shown speaking at a gathering with a banner reading ‘Health Ministry’ behind him.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand said the two men are frauds as Hindus all over the world recognise only three Shankaracharyas who head the four peeths or religious centres established by the first or Adi Shankaracharya in 500 BC.

The four peeths were set up by him at Joshi Mutt in Uttarakhand, Puri in Orissa, Sringeri in Karnataka and Dwarka in Gujarat. The first Shankaracharya propounded the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Sanatan Dharma, one of the main streams of Hinduism.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand is to likely to succeed Swami Swarupanand Saraswati as the the Shankaracharya of the religious centres called the Jyotishpeeth and Shardapeeth, which are located in Uttarakhand and Gujarat.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/457328.aspx

Ayudha Pooja: A unique tradition of love for weapons and machinery October 5, 2009

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By Team Mangalorean

MANGALORE September 27, 2009: The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one’s livelihood. On the preceding evening, it is traditional to place these implements on an altar to the Divine. If one can make a conscious effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses each day, it will help one to see one’s work as an offering to God. It will also help one to maintain constant remembrance of the divine. In India it is customary for one to prostrate before the tools one will use before starting one’s work each day; this is an expression of gratitude to God for helping one to fulfil one’s duties. This year the Ayudha Pooja happened to be celebrated on 27th September (Sunday).

Though basically it is the pooja done by the farmers and manufacturers who use machinary it has percolated into the other stratas of life like the common people. It has become customary to worship the machinery like vehicles, lathes, earthmoving equipments, common household implements, electrical and electronic devices and computers.

The Hindu fraternity see divine power in most of the in-animate things. That is the why the world looks different to them. They revere stones, trees, rivers medicinal plants, air, space and earth, animals, insects, birds, rodents, creatures of the sea and reptiles and many more. Similarly they see divine power in the machinery also. This is how the Hindu culture is involved in saving the ecological balance of this world and save every creation of god on this earth.

Today being the Ayudha pooja the entire city was in festive mood. Inevitably all industrial concerns observed holiday even the most brutally punctual Media houses also did not work. They cleaned their machinery, oiled them well in the previous night and early in the morning performed pooja. On this occasion many owners of machinery distribute sweets and bonus to their employees and some of them do have the afternoon meal with them.

One could see vehicles bedecked with flowers, smeared with kumkum and limestone paste. They break coconut or ash gourd on this occasion symbolizing “bali” lest the vehicle or machinery does not take toll of any human life while functioning.

All the government offices were closed but their drivers did clean the vehicles and took them to the nearest temples to get the pooja done. Those departments like Police, PWD, MESCOM and Revenue department that have fleet of vehicles arranged for pooja in their own premises. It was a sight to see the clean vehicles glistening in the early morning sun.

In individual homes also families got together to do pooja to their machinery, implements and vehicles. After the pooja the families go to a temple using the vehicle, as a result the Devi temples like Kateel Durgaparameshwari, Mangaladevi, Kalikamba, Marigudi in Boloor and Bolar, Mahalasa Narayani in Konchady and many other temples around the city were flooded with vehicles and other families. 

 
http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=broadcast&broadcastid=147574

Uneasy calm in flood-hit temple town Mantralayam in AP October 5, 2009

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PTI, Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hyderabad: An absolute silence prevails in the famous temple town of Mantralayam in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, which was ravaged by the floods in the river Tungabhadra — a tributary of Krishna river.

The holy town, otherwise bustling with pilgrims, wore a deserted look with the town remaining under several feet of flood water for the past three days. Flood water had even surrounded the sanctum sanctorum housing the holy Brindavan of the Madhwa saint Sri Raghavendra Swamiji.

People across India throng Mantralayam, situated on the bank of the Tungabhadra, to offer their prayers at Raghavendra Swamiji’s Brindavan (where swamiji attained live samadhi).

Though, the water-level has receded today, but, not the woes of the people, particularly pilgrims who saved their lives by moving to rooftops of the buildings surrounding the Raghavendra Swamiji’s mutt, when the town was marooned.

After the water level receded today, the district administration has begun cleaning up the debris and lifting the bodies of humans and scores of cattle that were strewn in the streets, official sources said adding that relief and medical camps were set up in the temple town.

Power supply was yet to be restored, the sources said. Rescue workers recovered at least four bodies from several places in the town and search efforts were on to locate more bodies, if any in the flood-stricken areas.