OHIO, U.S., May 16, 2013 (Cleveland.com): The Cleveland Museum of Art, like other major American art museums, is facing a rising tide of inquiries from countries rich in archaeological heritage over works in its permanent collection that may have been looted. Cambodia is the latest country to come forward with such claims.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that Cambodian officials say a statue of the kneeling Hindu monkey God Hanuman, a much-beloved work in the Cleveland collection since 1982, was looted from Prasat Chen, a 1,000-year-old temple at the Koh Ker archaeological site about 15 miles south of the border of Thailand.
The article cited unnamed experts who said thieves hauled sculptures from Prasat Chen via oxcart over jungle trails across the border during a 20-year civil war that started in 1970.
The article also stated that Cambodian authorities said they plan to contact the Cleveland museum and the Denver Art Museum concerning works said to be from Prasat Chen. The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., is already cooperating with federal authorities on inquiries related to Prasat Chen, the article said.
In a written statement sent to The Plain Dealer late Wednesday, museum Director David Franklin said: "The museum can confirm that it has not been approached with any information of the type mentioned in the article. Beyond this, it is the museum's policy not to discuss publicly the substance of these types of inquiries about objects in the museum's collection unless and until there is a definitive resolution."
The Times article said that Cambodian officials have been encouraged in their quest to recover looted art by the recent decision of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to return two stolen statues.
NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 20, 2013 (ENS): India's Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to forbid the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country. In a policy statement released Friday, the ministry advised state governments to reject any proposal to establish a dolphinarium "by any person / persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves import, capture of cetacean species to establish for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever."
The statement issued by B.S. Bonal, the member secretary of the Central Zoo Authority of India, acknowledges that cetaceans in general do not survive well in captivity, saying, "Confinement in captivity can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans by altering their behavior and causing extreme distress."
Noting that India's national aquatic animal, the Ganges River dolphin, as well as the snubfin dolphin are listed in Schedule-I and all cetacean species are listed in Schedule II part I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the ministry said it is important to protect them.
The grassroots Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organization, FIAPO, was pleased with the decision. This group took the lead in campaigning to ban dolphinaria in India, meeting with key ministry officials and garnering local grassroots support.
Look at the man who walks on a tight rope. He is performing various tricks, but his mind is only on the rope. So also, we may be doing various things, but our minds must be on God." Sri Sri Sri Sivaratnapuri Tiruchi Mahaswamigal ("Trichyswami") founder of Kailasa Ashram, Bangalore
INDIA, May 14, 2013 (HAF Press Release): To believe that one's faith cannot be openly practiced is unthinkable. However, for many Pakistani Hindus, the slightest acknowledgement of their Hindu faith can endanger their lives. "There is fear 24 hours a day...Hindus see themselves as helpless," Chetan Ram states. Young girls are ripped from the arms of their mothers, married off to strangers, and forcibly converted to Islam; never to see their families again.
Families live in utter poverty. Even if they are employed; they are at the mercy of the jagirdars, or landlords. The Muslim jagirdars pay Hindu workers at their own accord, leaving many of the already impoverished Hindus unpaid. In order to escape the dire fate they face in Pakistan, many flee to India for safety.
In January of 2013, a team from the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), traveled to Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Over five days, the team visited three Pakistani Hindu refugee camps, providing medical aid to over 400 refugees. During their time there, the team listened to one heartbreaking story after another.
Despite fleeing from religious persecution, these individuals are still not formally recognized as refugees by the Indian Government or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
To view the moving video of the unresolved plight of the refugees see "source."
SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA, May 17, 2013 (India West): It was a historic week at the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple & Community Center as thousands of devotees and patrons participated in the inaugural celebrations of the newly renovated temple premises. The week-long Maha Kumbha Abhishekam ceremony, which began May 8 and continued till May 12, presented an opportunity for the Bay Area Indian American community to experience the grand Hindu religious festivities in a unique fashion.
"It is gratifying to see our dream of 20 years finally fulfilled with such success," Raj Bhanot, co-founder and treasurer of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, told India-West. "We have been able to create one of the largest community temples in the heart of Silicon Valley with enormous support from both the South Indian and North Indian community, as all deities are worshipped here and all major religious rituals are also performed here," Bhanot added.
What began as a modest venture in 1991 by visionaries Raj Bhanot and Naranji Patel, amongst others, saw its first milestone being accomplished within two years as the temple opened its doors to the public at a 3.15-acre facility in Sunnyvale on Dec. 23, 1993. Ever since, the temple has attracted thousands of visitors every year.
With the influx of visitors continuing to grow exponentially every year, the board of trustees embarked on a project to rebuild the temple in order to better serve the community. Despite the estimated cost of construction being US$3 million, the temple was able to raise more than 50 percent through cash reserves and generous donations, and a loan for the remainder from Wells Fargo Bank. The groundbreaking ceremony was performed on Mar. 23, 2012 and construction followed. Within a year, the temple was able to reopen the newly renewed worshipping complex that has a seating capacity of 1,000 people.
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