ALIGARH, INDIA, August 28, 2014 (Times of India): A church with a cross in it that belonged to the 7th Day Adventists overnight turned into a temple adorned with a portrait of Shiva after what some Hindu groups in Aligarh termed the "successful ghar wapasi" (reconversion) of 72 Valmikis who had become Christians in 1995. There was an elaborate shuddhi karan (purification) ceremony on Tuesday inside the church in Asroi, 18 miles from Aligarh.
Khem Chandra, Sangh pracharak and pramukh of Dharam Jagran Vivad in Aligarh, said, "This is called ghar wapasi, not conversion. They left by choice and today they have realized their mistake and want to come back. We welcome them. We can't let our samaj scatter, we have to hold it tight. I have told them that honor comes from within the community and not from outside." Chandra added that in the years that followed their adoption of Christianity, he met heads of the eight Valmiki families numerous times to convince them to reconsider their decision.
Anil Gaur, one of those who returned to the Hindu fold, said it was because they were unhappy with the caste system that they changed their religion. "But we found ourselves in no better position among Christians," he said. "As Hindus we had no status and were restricted to doing menial jobs, but even after remaining a Christian for 19 years, we saw that no one came to us from their community. There was no celebration of Bada Din (Christmas). The missionaries just built a church for us in the vicinity where some of the villagers got married. That was all."
HYDERABAD, INDIA, August 27, 2014 (Silicon India): A unique international film festival here brought into focus the dilapidated condition of Hindu temples in India, highlighting problems like corruption, mismanagement, encroachments, financial problems faced by priests and erosion of traditional rituals associated with worship. Aimed at creating awareness about the need to save temples, the three-day festival saw the screening of 40 movies from different parts of India and countries like Mauritius, Denmark, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Britain and the United States.
The first-of-its kind festival was organized by the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF), an initiative launched by a group of Indian Americans to protect temples in India. "We want to make people aware of richness of temples and the need to address issues related to their protection, annadanam, gomata and other aspects of temples," Velagapudi Prakasarao, founder of the foundation, said.
An Indian American who started the foundation in 2006, Prakasarao attributed the problems faced by the temples, especially in southern India, to the government control over them. Unlike in the north where only major temples are under the government, in the south nearly all temples come under the Endowments department.
USA, August 31, 2014 (Press release, Robert Moses, Namarupa Publishers): In the summer of 2014 Namarupa Yatra Divine went to Puri, Odisha on the Bay of Bengal to witness the world famous Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra. Lord Jagannath, His Brother Lord Balarama and their sister the Lady Subhadra ascend their incredible chariots and proceed from their huge Jagannath Puri Temple for three kilometers down the Grand Road to take their annual summer vacation in the Gundica Temple. We had grandstand seats right at the starting area of the great chariot festival and spent the entire day enthralled and captivated by the love, joy and spontaneous devotion. More than a million devotees thronged the Grand Road. This short video is offered at the Feet of the Lord.
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
INDIA, August 29, 2014 (Indian Embassy Phnom Penh): HPI note: we were unable to access the URL at source the day we posted this, but it should be correct.
India-Cambodia relations are traceable to 2000 years. Historically, Indian influence in culture and religion was a dominant feature in South East Asia. However, Cambodia is perhaps the only country where it still remains strongly visible in customs, rituals and way of life of the people. The landmark of this strong link is perhaps the pre-Angkor era temples, which are one of the greatest heritage monuments in the world. According to Padmasree Prof. Sachchidanand Sahai, a renowned scholar and expert on Khmer civilization, the Angkor Heritage Park, covering an area of approx. 400 sq. km. is the only mega heritage site in the world. The world famous temples of Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Bayon, Baphuon, Phnom Bakheng and many other great temples are all located inside this Angkor Heritage Park, which is adjacent to the Siem Reap town in Cambodia.
In its present phase, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been working on the restoration of the Ta Prohm temple since 2003. Ta Prohm temple, dedicated to Lord Brahma (Prohm) was built during the period between mid-twelfth century and early thirteenth century by Khmer King Jayavarman VII. Ta Prohm was initially constructed as a Buddhist monastery and was very wealthy in its time. It was dedicated by King Jayavarman VII to his mother.
Ta Prohm, more popularly known as Tree Temple is one of the finest specimen of Khmer creativity and architecture of the Angkorean era. ASI has successfully documented all identified structures of the temple and proposed conservation thereof. It has also successfully restored the 3rd enclosure gallery (which was completely fallen before), main causeway and the 4th enclosure Gopura.
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