UTTARAKHAND, INDIA, April 11, 2014 (domain-b.com): With tourists from Maharashtra forming a considerable number of the total visitors to Uttarakhand, the state tourism board has begun the exercise of attracting Mumbaikars for the religious of Char Dham yatra, which is set to open for the season from next month. The pilgrimage, which starts during summer, has been popular since ancient times, as it involved difficult and arduous trekking through the hilly regions of Uttarakhand and is considered to be highly auspicious among Hindus.
The hill state, whose economy is hugely dependent on tourism, is home to Hindu holy mountain shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, together constituting the Char Dham, which attract a large number of devotees and religious travelers every year. The Uttarakhand government is making special efforts to revive religious tourism following the death of thousands and devastation to these shrines in the flood-landslide disaster of last year, which cost the state US$200 million worth of business.
"We are in the process of rebuilding the state's infrastructure. We are ready to begin the holy yatra from 2 May with the opening of the Yamunotri and Gangotri gates," state tourism secretary Umakant Panwar told reporters in Mumbai. Panwar said that taking lessons from last year's tragedy, the state plans to contain the number of visitors at any given time. To enforce the plan, the tourism department has made arrangements for mandatory biometric registration of the all the visitors. Also, each visitor will be tracked with a GPS-based monitoring system.
CHENNAI, INDIA, April 14, 2014 (Times Of India): The Tamil New Year in 2014 will be called Jaya, the 28th year in the 60-year Tamil calendar. Though January 1 is considered the New Year for official purposes, most Tamils follow the Tamil calendar and celebrate April 14 as new year.
Each Tamil New Year is named from a calendar of 60 names which starts with Prabhava (first in Sanskrit). The names repeat after every 60 years. Thus the outgoing year is Vijaya and the next Tamil year will be called Manmatha. In 1954, the Tamil New Year was called Jaya; those born that year will be celebrating their 60th birthday this year.
Temples and monasteries across the state have lined up several religious programs to mark the occasion. Special pujas and discourses have been planned at temples from Monday morning. At the monasteries, senior pandits will read the new almanac and predict the good and bad that the coming year has in store for people. "Jaya will bring all-round prosperity to the people of the country," forecasts astrologer R. Swaminathan. "There will be good rain and good harvest. People will be generally happy, but there is bound to be some hindrances during happy occasions," he said.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, April 17, 2014 (Press Release): Two major seminars on subjects that impact the global Hindu community will be hosted at the Global Hindu Conference 2014, scheduled for April 26th-27th weekend in San Jose, CA, USA.
One of the two seminars is on development of Hindu Historiography, which is a one-of-its kind initiative that is being done outside of, and in parallel to, the conventional academic establishment. Sumeet Saxena, the coordinator and chair of the historiography seminar, said that history plays too important of a role in self-identification of Hindus all over the world to be left only to the academia to deal with. The informal sector could also engage equally in history writing. The conventional academic framework, which is based on a Western worldview, is inadequate to capture the complexity of Hindu culture and civilizational experience, in order to properly express the Hindu historical narrative. Thus, the Western expression of Hindu history often stands at odds with the representation of Hindu community in global public affairs, leading to atypical "caste-sati" type caricatures, mocking and even hate crimes. Decades of discrimination has led to low self-esteem among Hindu youth, who now shun their Hindu identity in public spaces. Therefore, the use of unorthodox methods and setting is needed to accomplish the task of Hindu historiographical development.
Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Acharya Arumuganathaswami, editor and managing editor, respectively, of Hinduism Today magazine will conduct a special session on the representation of Hinduism in American public schools. The presentation will draw on their two decades of experience with the portrayal of Hinduism in school textbooks. The target audience will be parents of Hindu children and social studies school teachers who teach Hinduism in public schools. The special session will feature the Northern California premiere of their documentary titled "The History of Hindu India" which is intended for use in public schools in the U.S. to supplement the deficient material now in use. The documentary establishes a historical continuum of faith and practice by narrating the history of Hinduism since the Indus Valley civilization until the modern age.
The other seminar at the conference will be on Hinduism-Christianity Comparative Religion. The purpose of the comparative religion seminar is to build competencies for a deeper and more meaningful engagement with the Christian world. The current Hindu-Christian interlocution is largely one-sided where the Hindus have been dependent on old ideological formulations that were formed in a colonial milieu of 19th century India, which is acutely compromised in its core and one that has yielded in indeterminate results. This necessitates the need to learn more and understand Christianity in a new light from its original sources.
Rajiv Varma, the conference director, expressed his satisfaction on the overall organization of the conference. Laying down the purpose and vision for the exercise, he stated that the central theme of the conference is to build intellectual competencies among the Hindus for a meaningful engagement with the outside world. Development of Hindu historiography is a must to write an authentic Hindu narrative. He added that it is imperative to build Hindu ideological competencies, and incrementally build clarity on the nature of Hinduism in relation to Abrahamic religions in general, and with Christianity in particular, in order to provide ideological direction to the next generation of Hindus. He also outlined a vision of establishing a comprehensive program for reviving Sindh's classical Hindu heritage, and integrating the efforts towards Pakistani Hindu refugee rehabilitation into that program. He clarified that this is necessary to establish an emotional and cultural connection between refugees and the global Hindu community.
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In my silence, I experience one vast garden, spread out through the universe. All plants, all human beings, all higher devas are about it in various ways and each has his own uniqueness and beauty. Their presence and variety give me great delight. Every one of you adds in a special way to the glory of this garden."
-- Sri Anandamayi Ma, (1896-1982), Bengali mystic
UNITED KINGDOM, April 10, 2014 (The Northern Echo): Hindu followers from across the region took part in a ceremony today to mark the installation of a statue at a temple for Gurkha soldiers. Shivalinga, the representation of the Hindu God Lord Shiva, was erected in an annex to the Gurkha Temple at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) in Catterick Garrison.
The statue was donated by Swami Shri Gopal Sharan Devacharya Ji Maharaj, a high ranking Hindu priest who visited the ITC in 2012. Pundit Atmaram Dahal, Gurkha Company religious teacher, said: "The statue was constructed in India before being donated to our temple.
Captain Rajeshkumar Gurung, from Gurkha Company, said religion played an important part in the development of recruits, with religious teachers using examples of Lord Shiva to explain the moral component and duties of a soldier in combat.
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