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Hindus urge for Diwali Holiday in Public schools in Virginia

“It would be a step in the positive direction, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.” said distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed.

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Diwali
Diwali does not mean you will have to compromise on your health, Wikimedia

Nevada, May 11, 2017: Diwali is one of the most significant and popular festivals in Hinduism. This festival is not only celebrated in India but across the globe by all the Hindu communities as well as the foreigners.

Hindu community is now urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in Virginia to close on Diwali, most popular of their festival, which falls on October 19 this year, mentioned the punjabnewsexpress.com report.

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In the neighboring states of New York, Pennsylvania and New public school districts have already declared a holiday on the 19th of October. “It would be a step in the positive direction, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils,” said Hindu activist Rajan Zed.

According to Rajan, schools should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not conducting regular business and scheduling classes on Diwali. However, the schools are of the opinion that they do not want their students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day off to observe Diwali.

However, the schools are of the opinion that they do not want their students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests, examinations, papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day off to observe Diwali.

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To which Rajan aptly replied that if the schools can declare the holiday on the festivals of other religions then why not Diwali. He advised schools to show honor every religion. He also said that no one should be penalized for practicing a certain religion.

Rajan has asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples and Board of Education President Dr. Billy K to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state’s public schools and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.

He further added that Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. This festival of lights aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Therefore, along with Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.

– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

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Goddess Parvati portrayed as “Servant” in a Japanese Mobile Game; Hindus Urge Removal of the Character

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Goddess Parvati
Goddess Parvati characterised as servant in a japnese game. ush

Nevada, October 9: Hindus are upset at “Fate/Grand Order” (FGO) mobile role-playing video game, developed by Japan’s Delightworks Inc., for reportedly portraying goddess Parvati as one of the “new” servants; as it trivializes a highly revered Hindu deity.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged Tokyo headquartered Delightworks Inc. to withdraw the character of goddess Parvati in its free-to-play FGO video game, whose tagline is “This is a story about taking back our future”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that in this mobile game set-up, the player became the Master who summoned and commanded servants controlling their movements, including goddess Parvati; while in reality, the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.

Moreover, Goddess Parvati depicted in FGO appeared more like a belly-dancer than the Hindu deity devotees were used to seeing, Rajan Zed pointed out, and termed it as incredibly disrespectful.

Zed indicated that reimagining Hindu scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Controlling and manipulating goddess Parvati by the game-player was denigration. Goddess Parvati was meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be reduced to just a “servant” in a video game to be used in combat in the virtual battleground.

Rajan Zed further said that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left a lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people, Zed added.

Hindus welcomed entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for mercantile greed. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers with the resources they needed for their study and research regarding Hinduism, Zed stressed.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. No faith, larger or smaller, should be mishandled, Rajan Zed noted.

In this game, Goddess Parvati is shown as carrying Trisula (trident), which is her greatest weapon; while in reality, Trisula is Lord Siva’s most powerful weapon. In the game, when Parvati is equipped with Nandi, it increases her performance; but in Hinduism, Nandi is Lord Siva’s mount. This kind of misinformation spreading creates further confusion among non-Hindus about Hinduism, Zed states.

Delightworks Inc. undertakes planning, development and management of games. Tactical, turn-based FGO, on iOS/Android platform and composed by Kinoko Nasu, is claimed to be “easy to learn, but hard to master”. “Servant” in this game is “an attendant that serves the Master” and follows orders.

Goddess Parvati finds mention in Mahabharata and Puranas.

One response to “Goddess Parvati portrayed as “Servant” in a Japanese Mobile Game; Hindus Urge Removal of the Character”

  1. It isn’t like how they portrayed the Goddess was disrespectful and who cares if they make a mistake or two in a 100% accurate portrayal if someone does find interest in learning more about the Goddess they can just do research on their own as many would realize a game is different from real life and shouldn’t be seen as a perfect source of information in regards to real world topics they mention.

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Newly Discovered Fish Fossil in Nevada (US) has Shark like Features

Researchers learned of the fossil about five years ago after fossil collector Jim Jenks of West Jordan, Utah, stumbled upon it near Winecup Ranch north of Wells

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Birgeria americana, newly discovered fish species
The 26-cm-long fossil preserving the right side of the skull of Birgeria americana. VOA
  • A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species 
  • Scientists believe, it looked and ate like a shark
  • Researchers call this fish, Birgeria Americana 

New Delhi, August 9, 2017: A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species that scientists believe looked, and ate, like a shark.

The fossil is what remains of a bony, sharp-toothed fish that would have been about six-feet-long (1.83 meters) with long jaws and layers of sharp teeth.

The type of jaw and teeth on the fish suggest it would have chomped down on its prey before swallowing it whole, like a shark, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

“The surprising find from Elko County in northeastern Nevada is one of the most completely preserved vertebrate remains from this time-period ever discovered in the United States,” said Carlo Romano of the University of Zurich, lead author of a Journal of Paleontology article about the find.

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The fish, which researchers called Birgeria americana, predates Nevada’s most famous fossil, the Ichthyosaur, by more than 30 million years. The Ichthyosaur was a 55-foot-long (16.76 meters) reptile. One of the largest concentrations of Ichthyosaur fossils was found near Berlin, Nevada. The find led to the Ichthyosaur becoming Nevada’s state fossil.

Birgeria americana found in Nevada
Possible look of the newly discovered predatory fish species Birgeria americana with the fossil of the skull shown at bottom right. VOA

The evidence shows the fish was alive and well about 1 million years after mass extinction 66 million years ago wiped out an estimated 90 percent of marine species.

It also shows a large fish was surviving in water previously thought to be too warm to support such life.

At the time, water near the equator, which is where land that became Nevada was positioned about 250 million years ago, could have been warmer than 96 degrees. “The eggs of today’s bony fish can no longer develop normally” at such a high temperature, researcher said.

ALSO READ: Living Fossil in Illinois Waterways: Disappeared from 1990’s Water, Fish “Alligator Gar” is back in US Rivers

Researchers learned of the fossil about five years ago after fossil collector Jim Jenks of West Jordan, Utah, stumbled upon it near Winecup Ranch north of Wells.

“It was just a very lucky find,” said Jenks, who was credited among the paper’s authors. “I happen to notice the teeth glinting in the sun. That is what caught my attention.”

Jenks turned the fish over to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which has a large collection of fossils and connections with leading researchers. (VOA)

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)