BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, July 28, 2011 (India Times): Amid the raging controversy over permitting non-Hindus to enter the Jagannath temple in Puri, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb said people from other faiths were a "security threat" to the 12th century shrine.
The Puri king's apprehension stemmed from the brazen terror attacks in Mumbai and other places in the country in the recent past. "We should remain alert and adopt precautions to protect the temple, which was invaded by Afghan and Mughal rulers between 14th and 17th century," Dibyasingha Deb said. "Unlike those days, we do not find any threat to the temple as of now. Still we should be careful as the temple stands among the high risk category shrines in the country as declared by the Centre," he added.
He further said the age-old tradition should not be bent at any cost. "The rituals of the temple should not be changed by sidelining our tradition and custom," the Gajapati Maharaja said.
His reactions coincided with priests of Jagannath temple on Thursday taking out a huge rally in Puri to condemn the remark of BJD stalwart Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who recently kicked up a storm by advocating that non-Hindus should be allowed at Jagannath temple to boost tourism in the state.
AMARNATH, INDIA, August 1, 2011 (MSNBC): The AP reports that at least half a million Hindu pilgrims are making the pilgrimage to the icy Amarnath cave shrine, which lies 13,500 feet above sea level in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Hindus worship a stalagmite inside the cave as the Lord Shiva.
More photos here.
WASHINGTON D.C., August 4, 2011 (by Ramaa Reddy Raghavan, Huff Post): The Hindu America Seva Charities (HASC) held its first-ever White House conference entitled 'Dharmic Seva: Catalyst to strengthening and building pluralistic communities on July 29. The group under the leadership of Anju Bhargava, aims to mobilize the Hindu American community around public service.
Bhargava greeted attendees and said, "We are here today to energize our seva efforts and start seva centers that address the needs of the community. Our practice of Sanatana Dharma, yoga and worship strengthens the individual to carry out seva in an American context. As the Gita says, 'Service given without consideration is regarded as a nature of goodness."
Hosted by the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the conference brought together representatives from different religious faiths and private and public institutions to promote interfaith dialogue on variety of topics; the salient ones being to erase poverty, engage youth service, promote yoga and environmental awareness and conservation.
Ravi Chaudhary, Commander, and one of 15 Hindu American service-men and woman present spoke about the many contributions Hindu's have made to the armed forces. The initiative, 'Joining Forces' begun by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, was emphasized. It's a call for everyone to reach out, connect and support military families by pledging service hours, sending thank-you notes and starting volunteer activities.
President Barack Obama has applauded a Hindu American group for advancing public service, interfaith collaboration and pluralism, as the organisation made its White House debut by holding a community briefing there. "Guided by a commitment to lifting up the lives of others, organisations like Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) demonstrate the compassion of the American people and reflect our capacity to unite and address the challenges facing our world," Obama said in a message to the 2nd annual conference of the HASC.
UNITED STATES, July 20, 2011, (by Anju Bhargava): The Dharmic American community has an immense, untapped potential to serve at home and abroad. Dharmic Seva can become a catalyst to strengthening and building pluralistic communities. Our ancient expression, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The Whole World is One Family) is a key principle driving Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC).
The theme of our events at the White House and Georgetown University is "Energizing Dharmic Seva (Service): Impacting Change in America and Abroad," and is designed to inspire all toward community service. We will explore ways to further strengthen America through service and honor those within our community who have served, are serving and will serve.
As a member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in our report we recommended, and are now implementing, interfaith cooperation and community service as an important way to build understanding between different communities and contribute to the common good.
In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.
-- Appolonius of Tiana (2-97 ce), Greek philosopher and occultist. His work deeply influenced Western mysticism.
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