JAMMU, INDIA June 30, 2015 (India TV News): Amid tight security arrangements, the annual Amarnath yatra will begin from Jammu as the first batch of over 5,000 pilgrims will leave for 3,888-metre high cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas. The yatra will be escorted by heavy contingent of security forces to twin base-camps of Amarnath cave shrine in Baltal in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir and Pahalgam belt of South Kashmir.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath shrine stands at 3,888 m, 46 Km from Pahalgam and 14 Kms from Baltal. In Kashmir Valley, the 59 days annual yatra will start from July 2-- an auspicious day of Hindu calendar and conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 29. Over 200,000 pilgrims have secured advance registration and 22,104 have purchased helicopter tickets from Baltal and Pahalgam to Panjtarni. "Entire state administration is fully geared up to provide every facility like, drinking water, medicare, electricity and security to the yatris at base camps," a official said.
SRI LANKA, June 30, 2015 (France-Presse): Shunned, destitute and pushed into prostitution in some cases, Sri Lanka's Tamil widows have returned to northern Jaffna since the end of the separatist war only to discover they are not welcome even in their homeland. Now, six years after the war ended, the women who fled the fighting on the peninsula in the thousands are pinning their hopes on the nation's new president for a better future for their families.
"Widows are despised in our society," said Baskaran Jegathiswari, 50, fighting back tears at her home in Achchuveli village in Jaffna, heartland of Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority. "People look down on us. They think we bring bad luck," said Jegathiswari, who lost her husband to military shellfire just months before the war ended in 2009. Official figures show 27,000 widows head households in Jaffna, where the conflict was centered, while local politicians put the figure much higher. The women are closely watching President Maithripala Sirisena who took office in January pledging reconciliation to "heal broken hearts and minds".
RUSSIA, June 30, 2015 (Times Of India): Close on the heels of India leading worldwide International Yoga Day celebrations, yoga classes have been banned in a central Russian city by the authorities to check spread of "religious occultism." At the center of the crackdown are two studios holding classes for Hatha Yoga -- a set of asanas or postures involving deep breathing and tough physical exercises, which as per Hindu mythology was first practiced by Lord Shiva. Yoga is known as an ancient Indian spiritual and exercise discipline to balance mind, body and spirit, however, yoga has become highly commoditized globally over the years and various schools and cults have sprung up in different parts of the world in its name.
In the first major crackdown abroad, the authorities in the central Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk have now asked the two Hatha Yoga studies -- Auro and Ingara -- to stop holding yoga classes in the municipal facilities of the city, as per the Russian media reports. Kommersant business daily reported that the Nizhnevartovsk officials have barred use of municipal buildings for yoga classes and have issued orders to the two studios on this. The Moscow Times reported that the order has been issued "to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements."
The authorities have also issued a letter to the heads of departments for physical culture and education, stating that hatha yoga was "inextricably linked to religious practices" and has "an occult character," as per the Kommersant report.
INDIA, June 30, 2015 (by Missionary International Service News Agency): The Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM) accuses the Vatican and the Indian Catholic Church leadership of caste-based discrimination "by way of allowing it directly and indirectly in their spiritual, educational and administrative places". "We have submitted seven copies of the complaint to Rajeev Chandran, assistant director of the UN Center in New Delhi addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and different human rights organizations," Mary John, president of the DCLM, told ucanews.com.
A DCLM delegation asked the UN and other organizations to urge the Holy See to eradicate the caste discriminatory practices and to withdraw the Permanent Observer position of the Holy See in the UN if the Vatican does not take the necessary steps. Dalits, or untouchables, are the lowest caste within Hindu society. Huge numbers of Dalits have converted to Christianity and Islam over the decades, though in reality the religions offer limited protection from societal prejudice even within their adopted faith. "The discrimination against Dalit Christians in the Catholic Church is a human rights issue and it would be right if we approach the UN to find a solution to it", Mary John said.
"There are separate cemeteries for Dalit Christians. Even in the church there are separate seating arrangements for those from the Dalit community and others. The festival choir processions do not enter the streets where Dalit Christians live," said Kudanthai Arasan, president of the Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi, adding that in some churches even the dead body of a Dalit Christian is not allowed inside for funeral Mass. While Dalit Christians form 70 percent of the total Catholic population in India, said John, their representation in the Church leadership is only 4-5 percent. Out of about 200 active bishops in India, only nine are from the Dalit community.
There is something beyond our mind which abides in silence within our mind. It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. Let one's mind and one's subtle body rest upon that and not rest on anything else.
-- Maitri Upanishad