[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] January 23, 2004
GO TO HPI ARCHIVES
  1. Robbers Ransack Main Hindu Temple in Fiji
  2. Hindu Group Criticizes Dalit Representatives at World Social Forum
  3. Indian Army Gets Strict on the Use of Religious Symbols
  4. Yoga Stretches Far, From India to San Francisco

1. Robbers Ransack Main Hindu Temple in Fiji
Source

NADI, FIJI, January 19, 2004: An early morning break-in at the famous Nadi temple shocked many worshippers. The biggest and most expensively built temple, the Shri Shiva Subrahmanya Swami temple at the end of Nadi Town, was broken into at 12:30am yesterday morning. Temple manager Lachman Naidu said the duty watchman had gone to have a drink of water when he was attacked and tied up by two men. "They tied his hands and mouth so he could not escape and call for help," Mr. Naidu said. He said the two thieves broke open the glass-door and ransacked the prayer areas causing a lot of damage. Mr. Naidu said the men were obviously looking for money and got away with more than US$600 in cash that was given as offerings by worshipers. The watchman managed to free himself and notified police. Mr. Naidu said police arrived at the temple at 7:30am and promised to be back later with police dogs for further investigations but at 2:00pm yesterday, Mr Naidu was still waiting for them to return. He said such sacrilegious acts needed severe punishment to deter further offences. It was the second temple attack within 24 hours, the first being at Salato Circle off Khalsa Road in Suva. The Shiu Nayaran Mandhir was broken into during the early hours of Saturday morning with items stolen valued at more than $750. Minister for Multi Ethnic Affairs George Shiu Raj said peace, unity and multiracialism were being attacked by such acts. The Fiji Council of Churches earlier condemned sacrilegious acts and reminded people that such actions were sinful and shameful. General Secretary Benjamin Bhagwan called on all Christian ministers and preachers to proclaim such acts as sinful, a violation of Christian faith of love, peace, goodwill and tolerance of our "neighbors." The Government also stands strongly against desecration of holy places regardless of religious belief.


2. Hindu Group Criticizes Dalit Representatives at World Social Forum
Source

JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY, USA, January 18, 2004: Navya Shastra, a US-based global Hindu organization of scholars, activists, priests and laypeople, has criticized the Dalit representatives and organizers of the World Social Forum for highlighting the Hindu dimensions of discrimination against the Dalit community while refusing to work with the Hindu leadership to bring about religious reforms, according to this press release from Navya Shastra ("source" above). "The Dalit leadership and World Social Forum organizers have rightfully focused attention on the social and economic problems faced by the community, but have deliberately refused to begin a dialog with Hindu leaders, though they repeatedly state that Hinduism is the cause of the Dalit plight,'" said Vikram Masson, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman. Masson further noted that the Hindu religion, despite the rhetoric of the Dalit leadership, continues to be a vital force among the Dalits, and ultimately, improving Dalit prospects will require reforming Hinduism. "It's about time the Dalit leadership stop asserting that Dalits are not Hindus. If the leadership continues to pretend that Hinduism will go away, it will miss out on an historic opportunity to participate in Hindu reform and to improve the lot of the oppressed communities."

The World Social Forum has listed India's caste system as one of its five major topics for discussion at this year's Mumbai meet.

Navya Shastra has expressed solidarity with the Dalit community. "We stand by our oppressed brothers and sisters. We firmly believe that the time for reform is now, and shall urge the Hindu community to end its silence and complacency which has for too long destroyed our religious unity," said Dr. Jaishree Gopal, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman, "the community's resilience in the face of daily bigotry is the mark of genuine spirituality which other Hindus cannot claim."


3. Indian Army Gets Strict on the Use of Religious Symbols
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NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 18, 2004: Expressing concern over its officers (both men and women) and jawans wearing "tilaks, vibhuti, birthstone rings and bracelets," on January 8, the Indian Army Headquarters sent a circular to all its formations detailing strict instructions on the "use of religious symbols" while in uniform. These instructions, issued by Adjutant General A. Natarajan with the cooperation of Army Chief N.C. Vij, are in addition to the existing dress regulations covered under 1962 regulations. The new instructions are especially strict for the Indian Army's women officers even though there are just about 75 of them in the million-strong force. They prohibit the use of bangles, ear-studs, lipstick and nail-polish. Sindoor can be used but only if it is not visible when a beret is on. Men officers and jawans can only wear a signet ring on the left hand. Multiple sacred threads on the wrist is not allowed. Only a single sacred thread can be worn and that, too, on the day of Puja. Kadas (steel bracelets) can be worn only by Sikh officers and men or officers commanding Sikh troops. No one can sport "tilak, vibhuti or any other religious symbol" while in uniform. No charms or sacred thread can be worn around the neck. If worn, no part should be visible outside the uniform.


4. Yoga Stretches Far, From India to San Francisco
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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, January 18, 2004: Yoga Journal magazine is hosting its second annual West Coast conference, bringing together world-renowned faculty and yoga practitioners. More than 800 people will be attending the four-day affair, to be held at the San Francisco Hyatt Regency Embarcadero from January 30 to February 2, 2004. Celebrity instructors such as Judith Lasater, Rodney Yee and Baron Baptiste will be on hand to conduct classes and educate attendees about the range of health benefits associated with yoga. Though modern yoga originally moved across the country from the east, introduced first by young swamis and yoga masters of Indian origin, the movement quickly found fertile ground in the Bay Area, with acolytes such as Lasater, co-founder of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco and president of the California Yoga Teachers Association, traveling to India and bringing back its ethical and philosophical precepts. Today, nearly 20 percent of the country's 15 million yoga practitioners live on the West Coast. "For a long time, people thought practicing yoga meant putting your foot behind your head," says Elise Miller, a noted yoga teacher who founded the California Yoga Center studio in Palo Alto and will appear at the conference. "It's much more than that, though. Among so many other things, it's about quieting the mind and the nervous system. It's about concentration, meditation, spirituality and reaching an enlightened state." The Yoga Journal began as a not-for-profit newsletter launched by the California Yoga Teachers Association back in 1975. The magazine has become a slick glossy whose paid subscriber base has risen from 90,000 in 1998 to more than 300,000 today. It also organizes several well-attended conferences each year.


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