International Religious News Updates (August)

 In Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam

USA : Karmapa ogyen Trinley wants to return to India

Recently in an interview with Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibet Service, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje said he plans to return to India following his year-long stay in the United States.

In October of last year, canceled a trip home to India following a general health check-up in New York that revealed medical issues. He addressed his extended stay in the United States via a live webcast in March for the 35th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, saying the stay allowed him “to rest both the body and the mind.”

In the interview, published on Monday, the Karmapa told RFA that a series of medical exams in the United States revealed no “major concerns” about his health, apart from “possible indications of diabetes” and a “small issue” with his heart for which he is undergoing testing and screening.

“In November of this year, there will be an important meeting of the heads of the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions in Dharamsala, India,” the Karmapa told RFA. The India-based Central Tibetan Administration and His Holiness the Dalai Lama are expecting the Karmapa to attend the meeting, and therefore he says he “must attend.”

Shortly after he arrived in New York, the Karmapa’s office released a statement to clarify rumors that the Karmapa was seeking asylum in the United States. In the RFA interview, the Karmapa again said that his intention has always been to return to India. “I wanted to clarify these things by having constructive talks with the Indian government, and we are going ahead with discussions now. If things turn out well, I am ready to return,” he said.

Afghanisthan – Atleast 25 people dead in twin bomb blast in Mosque

Afghan police say at least 25 people have been killed in twin suicide blasts at a Shi’ite mosque in southeastern Afghanistan. Raz Mohammad Mandozai, the police chief of Paktia Province, said two suicide bombers detonated their explosives inside the Khawaja Hassan mosque in the provincial capital of Gardez on August 3.

Mandozai said the suicide bombers, who he said were disguised in burqas, first killed two security guards at the entrance of the mosque before firing on worshippers and detonating their explosives. Mandozai said at least 40 people were wounded in the attack and were rushed to nearby hospitals.

Sardar Wali Tabasun, the police spokesman for Paktia Province, said the attack occurred after Friday Prayers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although similar attacks in the past have been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, which has a presence in eastern Afghanistan.

Many of those killed in the blasts in Gardez were Pashtun Shi’a, known as the Turi or Torai. Most Turi live in Pakistan’s northwestern Kurram tribal district, while a smaller population lives in Paktia.

The Turi have been targeted in both countries for decades by extremist groups, including the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, and Al-Qaeda.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 161 people were killed and 257 others were wounded in 2017 in targeted sectarian attacks against Shi’ite places of worship or worshippers.

Makkah : Government releases its postal plan during the Hajj season

The president of the Saudi Post Corporation (SPC), Mohammed Al-Abduljabbar, called on Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal at his office in Jeddah on Monday.

The Makkah governor reviewed the corporation’s preparations to serve the Hajj pilgrims in Makkah and other holy sites. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal was also briefed about the operational postal plan and the services and products to be offered to the pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.

Al-Abduljabbar also presented a commemorative gift to the Makkah governor — a painting with Hajj 1439 AH stamp.

Indonesia : Casualties to rise under the ruins Lambok Mosque after the earthquake

Rescue workers are searching the ruins of a mosque in Lombok, Indonesia, where it is feared people were trapped by Sunday’s deadly earthquake. The 6.9 magnitude quake is now known to have killed nearly 100 people and left at least 20,000 people homeless.

The mosque is one of thousands of buildings in North Lombok that were damaged. Two have already been rescued from the rubble, according to the national search and rescue agency.

The spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency shared footage of one man being brought out from under the collapsed building. The impact of Sunday’s quake has been far greater than a quake that hit Lombok last week, killing 16 people.

The official death toll now stands at 98, but officials believe that may rise. Most of the victims were killed by falling debris. Aid agencies have said their priority now is to provide shelter for displaced people, with aftershocks continuing to rattle the area.

In Lombok’s main city of Mataram, medical staff there have been struggling to cope with the injured in damaged hospitals. They have resorted to treating people in the open air.

Meanwhile search and rescue teams have rescued at least 2,000 people from the Gili Islands, three islands just off the north-west coast of Lombok which are popular with backpackers and divers.

Lombok is a roughly 4,500 sq km (1,700 sq miles) island east of the slightly larger island of Bali. Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire – the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.



USA : A Buddhist temple in Hancock County, Ohio was destroyed by fire

A Buddhist temple in Hancock County was destroyed by fire recently. The fire was reported by a passing motorist and a Buddhist monk who lives on the property unlocked the temple for firefighters, who reported that flames were shooting through the roof when they arrived.

A total of 37 firefighters from four departments worked to fight the blaze until just after 3 a.m. Though the fire’s destruction left the temple a total loss, no one was injured and the temple is insured. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


USA : Telangana ‘Bonalu’ goes Global

After New Delhi and Vijayawada, the colourful Bonalu festival is going global with members of the Old City Temples Committee deciding to celebrate it grandly in Houston, US, on Saturday.

A dozen committee members along with cultural troupes left for Houston to take part in the festivities, which coincides with the ongoing World Telangana Convention (WTC) at George Brown Convention Centre in Houston.

The American Telangana Association is organising the convention. The committee members led by president Gajula Anjaiah left two days ago to make arrangements for the festival. For the first time, a ‘bonam’ — cooked rice laced with curd and jaggery — will be offered to the Goddess in a decorated vessel made of 1 kg gold. The traditional ‘potharajus’, smeared in turmeric and vermillion paste, will dance to pulsating drum beats with a woman carrying the ‘bonam’ on her head.

The committee decided to organise the celebrations in the US to mark its 70th year of inception and promote Telangana culture and tradition abroad. “We have been offering ‘bonam’ to Goddess Sri Kanakadurga atop Indrakeeladri in Vijayawada for the last nine years. Similar celebrations are being conducted in New Delhi as well for the last four years,” committee member G Madhu Goud said.

It was first planned to organise the festivities in London, but because of some constraints, it was shelved. The committee then decided to hold the festivities in Houston. “We felt the WTC will be an ideal platform to promote our culture and tradition,” he said.

While the committee is bearing the travel expenses of its members, the Telangana government extended support to meet the expenses of the cultural troupes.


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