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...

Zed urges Pope for religious coalition to fight mounting infidelity

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has given a call to the leaders of various religions and denominations to put up a joint fight against the reportedly staggering amount of infidelity in the world. Recent exposure of cheating website “Ashley Madison”, whose tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair” and which had reportedly over 37 million members, has highlighted the gravity of the issue. Moreover, there could be other adulterers also out there who were not “Ashley Madison” members. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, said that as all major religions strongly condemned adultery, this was a good cause to show religious unity in fight against the evil of adultery, which was the major cause of divorces resulting in break-up of families. Roman Catholics being the single largest religious group in the world under one leader, Pope Francis should lead the effort, involving other Christian denominations, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Confucians, Taoists, Baha’is, Jains, Shintoists, Zoroastrians, etc.; Rajan Zed suggested. Zed offered Hindu help for the cause. Religions needed to act before infidelity became a norm, Zed...

Hindus back vegetarian school meals in France

Hindus are supporting the campaign for vegetarian school meals in France. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that as consuming beef was considered sacrilegious among Hindus, so vegetarian school meals would be welcomed by French Hindus. Moreover, many Hindus were just vegetarians. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that beef should be kept off the menu of school meals as cow was held sacred by Hindus and was considered the seat of many deities. With its population increasingly diverse, France should be more respectful to all the faith traditions while deciding menu for school meals. All French schoolchildren should have the option of choosing vegetarian meals, Rajan Zed...

Arkansas Secretary of State Office denies Hindu Hanuman statue request on Capitol grounds

Arkansas Secretary of State Office has denied the Hindu request of erecting Lord Hanuman statue in Arkansas State Capitol grounds in Little Rock. Kelly Boyd, Chief Deputy Secretary of State of Arkansas, in a letter dated August 17 and addressed to Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed, wrote: This letter is to inform you the Office of the Secretary of State is unable to comply with your request to place a Lord Hanuman statue on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol. This letter further said: During the 2015 legislative session, a monument honoring the Ten Commandments was authorized by legislative act. In fact, this legislation mandated this office allow the monument be erected on the grounds. During testimony in legislative hearings, the sponsor stated the monument was to honor the Ten Commandments as a legal document and not specifically a religious document. Regardless of the reason, the legislation mandated out actions and the process is underway. Hindu statesman Zed, in an email sent to Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin and some other officials in his office on August six, wrote: We hereby request your permission to erect a privately funded statue of Lord Hanuman in Arkansas State Capitol grounds in Little Rock. If permitted, we would arrange this Lord Hanuman statue to be constructed, designed and paid for by private funds at no expense to the state. Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that they were now thinking of sending the Lord Hanuman statue on Capitol grounds request to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson reportedly signed into law a bill on April eight...