To celebrate Pope’s visit, Free Library of Philadelphia exhibits Hindu scroll

In a remarkable interfaith gesture, to “celebrate the landmark papal visit to Philadelphia”, Free Library of Philadelphia is displaying a 64-foot Hindu “Bhagavata Purana” scroll (ca. 1750-1800). Its “Sacred Stories” exhibition, till January 30, is also showcasing a leaf illustrating the famous Hindu legend of “churning of the ocean of milk” (1598), an 1813 illuminated manuscript of the Mahabharata, Birth of Krishna miniature (1650-1700), Krishna and Holi miniature (1600-1625) and illustration of scholars translating the Mahabharata (1598). Commending Free Library of Philadelphia for displaying Hindu texts, miniatures and illustration; Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged major libraries of the world to frequently organize Hinduism focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu heritage with the rest of the world. Besides Hinduism, “Sacred Stories” is also showcasing rare texts of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism “that share the broadly human experiences of belief, faith, and worship, mediated through the written word” and narrating “a journey through 1,000 years of history”. Chartered in 1891, the 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system; with millions of digital and physical materials, 25,000 yearly programs and workshops, rich special collections, over six million in-person and millions more online visits annually; boasts of a worldwide impact. Siobhan A. Reardon is President; Pamela Dembe is Board of Trustees Chair; and Caitlin Goodman is Rare Books...

Hindus concerned at Hindu shrine vandalism in Trinidad & Tobago

Hindus are highly concerned after reports of vandalism of a Hindu shrine in Blanchisseuse village (Trinidad and Tobago), defacement with human filth and destruction of statues of deities and other property. There were reports of defacement of another Shiva Lingum also in the country. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful Hindu community of Trinidad and Tobago and worldwide; who had made lot of contributions to Trinidad and Tobago and the world; to receive such signals of hatred and anger. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged administration for swift action; and Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to contact the area Hindu community to reassure them. Blanchisseuse was said to be settled by the French in...

Michigan’s Hindu goddess temple erects tower

Devi Parashakthi Ma (Eternal Mother) Temple in Pontiac (Michigan, USA) has formally inaugurated its Rajagoupuram, a richly decorated 54-foot granite monumental tower recognizing 520 deities and containing “intense divine energy”. Crafted by a group of shilpis (artisans) over about three year period on a granite obtained without involving modern blasting techniques, this about 450-ton tower was carved in India and assembled in USA, reports suggest. Primary deity of this Temple is Parashakthi Karumari Amman (Divine Eternal Mother) but it also reportedly houses deities of Ayyappa, Bhoga Srinivasa, Bhuvaneshwari, Ganesha, Garuda, Guruvayurappan, Hanuman, Jagannath, Kaala Bhairava, Kubera Lingam, Lakshmi Narasimhan, Mahalakshmi, Nagadevatha, Navagrahas, Radha Krishna with Gomatha, Raja Mathangi, Saneeswara, Sarva Dosha Nivarana, Shiva Nataraja & Soma Sundara Linga, Subrahmanya, Sudarshana Chakra, Vaarahi Ambika and Venkateswara. Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended efforts of Temple leaders and area community for realizing Rajagoupuram in a Hindu temple complex. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this Temple would help in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism. Located on 16 acres in a wooded area inhabited by deer and other animals with a stream running through its South end, it has a built-up area of about 10,000 square feet, including 6,000 square feet of worship area and a...

39th Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival to include bhajans

The 39th Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival, claimed to be the “largest Indian classical music festival outside of India”, will be held in Ohio (USA) starting March 23. This Festival includes celebrity artists in various concerts, bestows various music and dance awards, organizes educational programs, etc. It will include Sustaining Sampradaya program, which the organizers claim “will change the way you experience music for the rest of your life”. This year, the Festival has added another program—Nama Sankeerthanam or Traditional Bhajans, which will be held on April two and will include Thodaya Mangalam, Namavalis, Guru Keerthanas, Ashtapathis, Bhadrachala Ramadasu Keerthanas, Abhangs and other traditional items. Kadayanallur Thukaram Ganapathi Maharaj and Udayaloor Sri K. Kalyanarama Bhagavathar will share and lead the bhajan with the Sustaining Sampradaya participants, addressing a wide variety of traditional items in different languages. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended the Festival organizers, volunteers and the Cleveland area community for piecing together such a wonderful event showcasing heritage and tradition of classical music and dance of India and Hinduism. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that the elements of musical theory were first found in ancient Sama-Veda. By tradition, the dance was invented by Lord Shiva who first danced the cosmic tandava. Zed urged Ohio Governor John R. Kasich to issue an official proclamation marking this unique and prestigious Festival. The Aradhana Committee, a non-profit organization responsible for organizing this Festival, includes President R. Balasubramaniam, Co-founder/Secretary V.V. Sundaram, Co-founder/Vice-President Gomathy Balasubramaniam, Treasurers Roger and Jaya Natarajan, K. Venkataraman,...

Canada’s Guruvayurappan Hindu Temple gets permit after “long & difficult process”

Guruvayurappan Temple of Brampton in Canada has reportedly received the building permit from the City of Brampton in Ontario, which it calls “a long and difficult process”. According to Temple President Dr. P. Karunakaran Kutty, the “construction is to begin in early October”. Temple has reportedly raised about $1.8 million and is seeking more donations. This Temple is proposed to be built in accordance with ancient Hindu Shilpa and Agama Shastras; plans to accommodate Sree Kovils for Guruvayurappan, Ganapathy, Sastha, and Devi; and hopes to be “a pillar of social cohesion, aside from being the spiritual epicenter for the Hindus of North America”. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged the governments of Canada, Ontario and Brampton to simplify the seemingly stringent building permit process for religious centers and offer assistance through the process so that devotees could practice their respective faiths freely. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, commending efforts of temple-project leaders and Greater Ontario area community towards realizing this Temple, indicated that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this Temple would focus in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism. This Temple, whose history goes back to mid 1990s, opens everyday at its current temporary location. It performs various poojas; with wedding costing $501, Sarpa Bali costing $301 and Vahana (Vehicle) Pooja at...

Lord Krishna temple opens in Malaysia

Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple of Devotion & Understanding opens in Seberang Jaya, (Penang, Malaysia) on August 29. First of its kind in Malaysia, this about 10 million Malaysian Ringgit octagonal-shaped multi-storey unique temple established by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has 16 chatris, was designed after two well-known temples in India and its decorations were undertaken by artisans from India. Besides worship services, this temple also proposes to instruct devotees on yoga, chanting, spirituality, etc.; run an education center; provide free vegetarian food and include a Srila Prabhupada Gallery. Its Mandala-Abhishegam Ubhayam will be held from August 30 till October 16, reports suggest. Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended efforts of temple leaders and area devotees and community for realizing this Lord Krishna temple complex. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this new temple would help in this direction. ISKCON Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada reportedly visited Malaysia for five days in 1971. ISKCON Malaysia, launched in 1980, now has over 20 registered branches and over nine preaching centers. Bhaktivrajendranandana Swami is its President. ISKCON, headquartered in Mayapur, India, also known as Hare Krishna movement, “includes five hundred major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly one hundred affilated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of namahattas or local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide.” Based on Bhagavad-Gita and the Bhagavat...

Hindus upset at depiction of Lord Ganesha on swimwear

Hindus are upset at the depiction of the image of Lord Ganesha on women’s water polo suit of a California company, which they termed inappropriate. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was disturbing to see image of Lord Ganesha, who was highly revered in Hinduism, covering hips and crotch of a model in a water polo suit. Lord Ganesha was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for pushing swimwear for mercantile greed of an apparel company, Zed indicated. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged the manufacturer Hardcoresport to immediately recall and remove from various web-outlets all swimwear which showed Hindu Lord Ganesha, and its bosses Mia Andersen and Whitney Hentzen to publicly apologize. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed stressed. Zed further said that such trivialization of a Hindu deity was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Zed noted. Rajan Zed suggested Hardcoresport and other corporations worldwide to send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of...

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum to display Lord Vishnu on silk

Victoria and Albert Museum (V&AM) in London, which claims to be “world’s greatest museum of art and design”, will be showcasing Lord Vishnu avatars on silk in its Fabric of India exhibition from October three to January 10. Dated around 1570, this display will include a Hindu narrative cloth in silk lampas weave, depicting avatars of Lord Vishnu. It will be “the first exhibition to fully explore the incomparably rich world of handmade textiles from India”, presenting about 200 objects made by hand, including sacred temple hangings and some expressing religious devotion and examining how fabrics were used in spiritual life. “Sacred fabrics created for temples and shrines would employ the best of available materials and highest levels of craftsmanship,” Museum release says. Commending V&AM for plans to exhibit Lord Vishnu, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth. Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged major art museums of the world, including Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc., to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world. Some fragments of Indian fabric dating back as far as the 3rd century will be on display in this exhibition curated by Rosemary Crill and...

Diverse religious leaders back Hindu Hanuman statue in Arkansas Capitol grounds

In a remarkable interfaith gesture, religious leaders of diverse traditions have supported the request of Hindus to erect a statue of Hindu deity Hanuman in Arkansas Capitol grounds in Little Rock. Some Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and other faith leaders have backed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed’s announcement to arrange the Hanuman statue to be constructed, designed and paid for by private funds at no expense to the state. These religious leaders supportive of this Hanuman statue include Greek Orthodox Christian priest Father Stephen R. Karcher, well known Buddhist priest Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan, Reverend Stephen L. Child of American Clergy Leadership Conference, Bahá’í teacher Justin V. Deverse, American Indian spirituality scholar Brian E. Melendez, Dharmakaya Buddhist Center Director Trey Ligon, Children of Temple Earth priestess Ellyn Darrah and Church of Inner Light Founder Laura A. Peppard. ElizaBeth W. Beyer, Jewish rabbi in California and Nevada, stated: The United States of America celebrates freedom of religion, religious pluralism and freedom of speech. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another. In the event that the current monuments in Arkansas represent religion, rather than being of a historical nature, then each religion with a substantial stake in Arkansas should have an opportunity to pursue the placement of a culturally appropriate monument. This includes the request by the Universal Society of Hinduism to construct a monument of their choosing to best represent their religion. Roman Catholic pastor Father Charles T. Durante said: I think that the government should remain neutral on matters of religion, as our Constitution so states. Arkansas Secretary of State Office,...

Hindus seek “Best Hindu Principles” Jamaica police award

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed is urging Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to establish “Best Hindu Principles” award for the graduating police recruits. This proposed award would be for honoring graduating cops and presented at the Passing Out ceremony to the recruit best portraying Hindu values of trustworthiness, honesty, leadership, initiative, responsibility, integrity, endurance, helping others, fairness, desire to serve community, self-discipline, empathy, tolerance, etc., and could be given to graduating recruit from any religious background or non-believer; Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated in a statement in Nevada (USA) today. JCF already has Best Christian Principles award for the police recruits, which was launched in 1957, reports suggest. Jamaica is a multi-religious Christian-majority country; with various Christian denominations, Rastafarians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Bahai’s, non-affiliated, etc. The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. Per its website, JCF, the police force of the island nation of Jamaica headquartered in Kingston and whose history goes back to 1600s, “endeavours to serve its citizens through the impartial, transparent enforcement of law and order”. Its mission includes: “We serve, we protect, we reassure with courtesy, integrity and proper respect for the rights of all”. Peter Bunting is Jamaica Minister of National Security, while Carl McKay Williams is JCF...