NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 8, 2017 (NDTV): Kumbh Mela has been recognised by UNESCO as an "intangible cultural heritage of humanity", a tweet by the international organisation said. The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under the UN body inscribed Kumbh Mela on the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" at its 12th session in Jeju, South Korea. "A matter of immense joy and pride for India," PM Narendra Modi tweeted.
The Kumbh Mela, considered the world's largest congregation of religious pilgrims, joins new elements from Botswana, Colombia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the list. The inscription of elements on the list helps countries which are a part of UNESCO's convention for safeguarding cultural heritage to mobilise international cooperation and assistance for ensuring that communities continue to practise and transmit such aspects of their heritage. The Kumbh Mela, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik, represents a set of rituals related to worship and cleansing in holy rivers. The Committee also took note of the fact that knowledge and skills related to Kumbh Mela are transmitted through the Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student relationship) by way of saints and sadhus teaching their disciples about traditional rituals and chants.
SOUTH AFRICA, December 6, 2017 (IOL): Ten years ago, on December 10, Swami Sahajananda, the spiritual head of the Divine Life Society of South Africa, passed away after guiding, inspiring and shaping the lives of thousands for 58 years. In commemoration, the society will celebrate his life with a Ganga arati from 6am followed by breakfast at 6.45am. The society will also distribute 1,000 grocery hampers to needy families and the book, Priceless Jewels, Volume 4, containing letters by Sri Swami Sivananda to Swami Sahajananda, will be released.
Since 1974, Swami Sahajananda initiated almost 300 projects for disadvantaged people, comprising schools, creches, peace and skills training centres, housing for the underprivileged, children's homes, clinics and community halls. Liberal financial contributions were also made to about 40 temple organisations and institutions in South Africa and institutions abroad. He was equally concerned about the decline in social values and disseminated the teachings of Sri Swami Sivananda on correct conduct and ethical values through books and pamphlets. Inspired by his example, the society inaugurated the Sivananda Free Book Distribution to schools.
I felt great need of a holy pilgrimage, so I sat still for three days and God came to me.
-- Saint Kabir (1440-1518)
PAKISTAN, December 3, 2017 (Pakistan Today): Authorities are working on a comprehensive plan to restore religious sanctity and archaeological value of Katas Raj Temple near Chakwal. Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Siddiqul Farooq said this while talking to APP here on Sunday. He said that the plan was part of efforts of the government to work for minorities and provide them maximum facilities as an equal citizen of the country. "Katas Raj is a confluence of four civilisations. There are 3,000 years old Hindu temples, a stupa of Buddhism, a havali of Hari Singh Nalva, a Sikh general of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and two mosques, situated close to each other," the chairman added.
He said that Katas Raj was very much important and sacred place for Hindus all over the world. "We have divided our work on Katas Raj in two parts, first was for the functional temple, where people go for worship. "We have renovated it on modern lines and that part has been completed. In the second part, we are working on religious plus archaeological attractions of Katas Raj," he added. He said that Amr Kund (sacred water), which was obtained from a well there, which was closed for several hundred years due to landslides or earthquakes etc, has been restored. Two sacred caves, which had been used as meditation in ancient times, have been discovered, developed and opened for the Hindu Yatris and other visitors.
AMARAVATI, INDIA, DECEMBER 7, 2017 (Times of India): In a sharp departure from tradition, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is ready with its first batch of non-Brahmin priests. The priests, mainly belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe are expected to be given posts soon. TTD is going to construct around 500 temples in SC, ST and fishermen colonies along with the Endowments department.
About 200 people from Dalit and backward communities have undergone rigorous training for three months as part of a pilot project by the TTD management. "The management is going to appoint SC, ST priests in temples governed by it very soon," TTD executive officer Anil Singhal said. Singhal said this is the first time when members from downtrodden sections of the society are being given a chance in the recruitment process for world's richest temple.
"The demand for reservation for Dalits for the priesthood has been persisting for several decades. Previous attempts to meet the demand have faced stiff resistance from certain quarters. But now we have made it a reality," Singhal said during a press conference at Delhi.
The programme, which was taken up by the TTD's Sri Venkateswara Employees' Training Academy (SVETA) was launched two years ago but discontinued later.