Religious Diversity News

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New Hindu Temple in Fairfax, Virginia

Source: The Washington Post

On March 20, 1999, The Washington Post reported that
sanctification of the $4 million Durga Temple will be completed today
when a statue of the goddess Durga is installed in the new shrine.
Durga is one of the many manifestations of Devi, the mother goddess
of Hinduism, and is the subject of a five-month exhibit at the
Sackler Gallery that opens on March 28th. The Durga Temple is the
first Hindu temple in Northern Virginia and the third in the
Washington area. The number of Hindu congregations has recently
increased in the Washington area as a result of increased
immigration. There are between 60,000 and 87,000 Indian immigrants in
the metropolitan Washington area, which is up from the 36,000 tallied
in the 1990 census. The three-level, 22,000 square-foot building will
be a community resource for sustaining Indian culture in the United
States. The temple will house a library of Hindu material and offer
classes in Hindi, yoga, meditation, dance, painting, and other arts.

Jewish and Christian Organizations Offer Help to Muslim Community of Minneapolis

Source: Star Tribune

On March 20, 1999, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis
published an article on the many Jewish and Christian organizations
who are offering assistance to the Muslim community of Minneapolis in
the aftermath of a devastating fire that destroyed the Islamic
Cultural Community Center. Donations for rebuilding, offers to share
worship space, and aid in the clean-up of the mosque are some of the
ways Jewish and Christian organizations have shown their support for
the Islamic community in Minneapolis. There are plans to rebuild the
mosque in the present area of northeast Minneapolis where the Islamic
Center stood. Matthew Ramadan, a Muslim leader in the Twin Cities,
stated: “From a political and a moral point of view, it has to be
built in northeast Minneapolis, the area where the mosque was burned.
If it isn’t, the signals will be that we were driven out.” Though the
fire was determined to be an arson, it is still not designated as a
hate crime. Rev. Bill Kenney, pastor of the Church of Our Lady of
Mount Carmel in northeast Minneapolis, wants the mosque to stay. “We
have few violent crimes here. We’re proud of that, and we want to
continue that. We want to make people feel welcomed, and we’ll do
what we can to help them.”

“God Speaks”

Source: The Buffalo News

On March 20, 1999, The Buffalo News reported on the new
national advertising campaign called “God Speaks,” which features
billboards with black backgrounds and white lettering that are all
signed by God. “The non-denominational ads – meant to pique the
interest of people who don’t attend church – began in Florida and
have appeared in northern Texas and recently in North Carolina.”
Signs like “Keep using my name in vain and I’ll make rush hour
longer,” “Loved the wedding, invite me to the marriage,” and “Have
you read my 1 best seller? There will be a test” are just a few of
the 18 slogans created by the Smith Agency of Fort Lauderdale,
Florida “on behalf of an anonymous client.”

Naw-Ruz

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

On March 19, 1999, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on the
celebration of the Baha’i New Year, or Naw-Ruz, which takes place on
the vernal equinox (Saturday, March 20th) and is a religious holiday
in the Baha’i faith. For the 19 days before Naw-Ruz, Baha’is between
the ages of 15 and 70 refrain from eating and drinking during
daylight hours. Lorelei McClure, spokeswoman for the Baha’i National
Center in Evanston, Illinois, stated: “It is a time to deny oneself
material comforts. Fasting is an outward sign of the inward
cleansing.” The Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, IL is expected to be
filled with more than 350 followers for a devotional program and a
buffet to mark the end of the fast.

Feng Shui in the Business World

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On March 19, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle published
an article on the growing use of feng shui in American businesses to
“boost their bottom line.” Feng shui, developed over 3000 years ago
in rural China, is supposed to “promote well-being by fostering a
good flow of ch’i or life-energy through buildings.” Several
businesses in the San Francisco area, including the clothing company
Esprit Corp., report increased profits after the use of feng shui in
their buildings. Though none of the feng shui approaches have been
scientifically proven, a change in the work environment is
undeniable. Glenn Takayama, president of the small biotech firm Lab
Vision Corp., stated: “I think I’m more productive now. And everyone
comments on the changes to our lobby. They say it’s a good feeling to
be there and walk through there.” Christophe Kubiak, who owns an
eatery in San Francisco, stated: “I’m not too much into energy and
all that, and I don’t want to have a Buddha sitting by every door,
but after feng shui, we saw an 80 percent increase in our business.”

Pagan Celebrations of Vernal Equinox

Source: The Boston Herald

On March 19, 1999, The Boston Herald featured an article
on Pagan celebrations of the vernal equinox, which honor the arrival
of spring and Eostra, the Teutonic goddess of spring. Pagan lore
recounts that a rabbit so wanted to please Eostra that it laid sacred
eggs in her honor. The rabbit then decorated the eggs and presented
them to Eostra. She was so pleased with the eggs that the rabbit was
sent across the land to distribute the eggs. Although vernal equinox
celebrations differ from coven to coven, many Pagans do paint the
eggs in symbolic colors. After coloring the eggs, they are then
thrown into a lake, river, or ocean. Matthew Paloucci, a practicing
Wiccan for nine years, said: “We throw the eggs into water because we
see it like the planting of a seed. It’s like a wish symbolizing our
re-connection with Earth as it springs back to life.” Some covens
celebrate by pounding the earth with tree branches. Laurie Cabot, who
will lead such an equinox ceremony, stated: “We wake up Mother Earth
because we know the sun is being born again and we want to help raise
the energy from the great mother.” Wiccans of the Apple Moon Coven in
Groton, Massachusetts will celebrate by painting raw eggs red, to
symbolize a mother’s blood, and plant flower seedlings in small pots
that they will take home.

Naw-Ruz

Source: The Seattle Times

On March 18, 1999, The Seattle Times reported on the
celebration set for the Persian New Year, or No-Ruz, on Saturday,
March 20th in Seattle. The Zoroastrian calendar that the Persians use
is in conjunction with the Islamic calendar, so it is about to be the
year 1378. No-Ruz is celebrated by all Persians, regardless of
religion, and takes place every year on the vernal equinox. The main
celebration in Seattle will take place at Seattle University’s
Campion Tower Ballroom, with 600-700 people expected.