Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pope to investigate apparition of Virgin Mary in Bosnia

Our Lady of Međugorje, aka Queen of Peace, is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appeared to six Croat children in Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 24, 1981. On that day young Mirjana Dragicevic and Ivanka Ivankovic saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a village in Bosnia-Hercegovina in Europe. The next day four more children, Marija Pavlovic, Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivankovic and Ivan Dragicevic had the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to reports.

Reports say, since then she has purportedly been appearing to the six visionaries, and many miracles have been reported, such as, ‘the sun spinning, dancing in the sky, turning colors, or being surrounded by objects such as hearts or crosses.” Many people claim that they could look at the sun without any damage to their eyes, and the tall cement cross erected on Mount Podbrdo has disappeared and reappeared, or glowed as if lit with lights, although there is no electricity there. Miracle healing has also been reported.

It may be noted that Vatican has not endorsed these claims. However, the Roman Catholic Church has declared that it cannot be affirmed that the reported apparitions are supernatural in character.

On 4th June 2008 Pope Benedict XVI blessed the statue of Our Lady of Međugorje in Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City. On 28 July 2009, the Pope granted a request for laicisation from Father Tomislav Vlašić, who had been under investigation for ‘dubious doctrine, the manipulation of consciences, suspect mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders.’ He was also accused of sexual immorality with a nun which case he had covered up.

"We are now awaiting a new directive on this issue", Cardinal Vinko Puljic, who is the head of the Bosnian Bishops' conference told the press. "I don't think we must wait for a long time, I think it will be this year, but that is not clear… I am going to Rome in November and we must discuss this…It is not a sin to pray, it's not a sin to hear confessions, it is not a sin to give penance, this is a good climate. But this phenomenon, apparitions or visions, falls to the (Vatican) commission... It is a very delicate question."

Currently Međugorje has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites, with over30 million pilgrims having visited since the first sighting of ‘Our Lady, as the local people call her. Many people have claimed to have witnessed strange phenomena including ‘the sun spinning in the sky or changing colors and figures such as hearts and crosses around the sun’.

On Wednesday, 17 March 2010, Vatican announced a commission to investigate the claims, and that Pope Benedict XVI had formed an investigative commission composed of cardinals, bishops, and other experts that will report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the top doctrinal body.

Monday, March 15, 2010

IPL 2010: Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Daredevils

Watch the video highlights from Twenty-20 cricket match No. 3 between Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Daredevils (IPL 2010) played on March 13, 2010.

The third season of IPL started in India on 12 March 2010 and is due to last over a period of 45 days. Five new venues, Cuttack, Nagpur, Vishakhapatnam, Ahmedabad and Dharamsala, have been added. It will be the first sporting event ever to be broadcast live on Youtube.

Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab is originally owned by Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, and others who bought the franchise for $76 million. Delhi Daredevils is the Delhi franchisee for the Indian Premier League, owned by the GMR Group.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

Elephanta Caves front view
Elephanta Caves, originally uploaded by Himanshu Sarpotdar.

The Elephanta Caves are located on Elephanta Island in Mumbai Harbour, about 10 kilometres to the east of Mumbai, India. The island, on an inlet of the Arabian Sea, has a large group of five Hindu caves and a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Ajanta Caves, World Heritage Site

Photo published under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

Ajanta Caves, in Maharashtra, India, contain ancient paintings and sculptures of both Buddhist religious art and sculpture.

Cave No. 1 is the first cave, with one of the most elaborate sculptures showing scenes from the life of the Buddha. The cave has a front-court with cells, and a porch, once covered with murals of which many fragments remain now. Each wall of the hall inside is nearly 40 feet (12 m) long and 20 feet (6.1 m) high. There is a shrine on the rear wall to house a seated image of the Buddha. There are four cells on each of the left, rear and the right walls. The walls are covered with paintings, fairly well preserved.

The nearby Cave No. 2 is famous for paintings on its walls, ceilings, and pillars. It has a porch quite different from Cave one. The cave is supported by pillars. The size and ground plan have many things in common with the first cave. The front porch consists of cells.

The caves at Ajanta were abandoned by AD 480 and for the next 1300 years the jungle grew back and the caves were hidden, and unvisited until the spring of 1819 when a British officer in the Madras army entered the steep gorge on the trail of a tiger. Within the tangled undergrowth, he came across the almost hidden entrance to one of the caves. Exploring that first cave, long since inhabited by birds, bats and larger animals, Captain Smith wrote his name in pencil on one of the walls, still faintly visible, it records his name and the date, April 1819.

Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Ajanta Caves comples in Maharashtra, India
Ajanta Caves, originally uploaded by danchitnis.

Ajanta Caves, located just outside the village of Ajinṭha in Aurangabad district in the Indian state of Maharashtra, are rock-cut, richly decorated cave monuments containing paintings and sculptures considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, have had a considerable artistic influence. Since 1983 the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first Buddhist caves at Ajanta date from the second and first centuries BC. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th centuries AD), many more caves were added to the original group of caves.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Practising Yoga in the French Alps

Woman practicing yoga in the Alps in France
Yoga in the French Alps, originally uploaded by kajo55.

Sun Yoga for more energy at sunset

Wallpaper showing a yogi practising Sun Yoga at sunset
Sun Yoga brings more energy., originally uploaded by Eric Lon.

This is a very popular photo on yoga that has been seen 20.523 times on January 17, 2010 on Flickr, according to this photographer. He says the model featured here is Janga, a 26-year-old Nepali, the spiritual son of French Eric Lon, 59 years old, masseur physiotherapist and yogi for 36 years. According to him, this tree posture connect the energy of the earth with the sea and the sky. He says, "Eric teaches yoga from sea level to the Himalayas; Nepal, India."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gate of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, is a city situated in Talmage, Mendocino County, California, 180 km north of San Francisco. It was one of the first Buddhist monasteries built in the United States. The temple follows the Guiyang Chan School, one of the five houses of classical Chinese Chan.

The founder Hsuan Hua (16 April 1918 - 7 June 1995), was a revered Chan Buddhist monk who had an important role in the propagation of Western Buddhism in the United States. He is also known as An Tzu and Tu Lun.

Development of Zen (translated from the Chinese word Chan to Japanese, and originally derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dhyana’) is traditionally credited to be in China, in the Shaolin Temple, by the South Indian Pallava prince-turned-monk Bodhidharma, who came to China to teach the principles of Chan or Zen.

Address : 2001 Talmage Road, Ukiah, California 95482, USA


The Jeweled Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas

The Jeweled Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, situated in Talmage, Mendocino County, California, USA. The city was founded by Master Hsuan Hua. Constructed in 1982, the Jeweled Hall is adorned with streamers, banners, lamps and a 20-foot (6 m) statue of a thousand-handed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. The walls of the hall are adorned with 10,000 images of the Buddha molded by Master Hsuan Hua himself.

Avalokitesvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, and one of the most revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism. In China, Avalokitesvara is often depicted in a female form known as Guan Yin. In India, Avalokitesvara is also referred to as Padmapani, Lokesvara or Tara. In Tibetan, Avalokitesvara is known as Chenrezig, and is said to be incarnated in the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa and other high Lamas. In Mongolia, he is called Megjid Janraisig or Xongsim Bodisadva.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A visit to the Space City Houston

One of the finest destinations to visit for those who like a kaleidoscopic panorama of tourist attractions in the United States is Houston in the State of Texas, home to NASA, and one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. The two major attractions that most people would not like to miss are the Houston Museum District, home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, and the Theater District, known an active visual and performing arts scene offering year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.

Renowned as the most air-conditioned city in the world, Houston has some of the best hotels to suit every pocket and providing the best of hospitality for the celebrity traveler as well as the budget traveler. For instance, if you are to be around the Greenspoint Mall, a very popular place for visitors and home to some of the topmost brands in the world. It is a very convenient location to visit the most sought-after spots such as Splashtown, Old Town Spring, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, and the Sam Houston Racetrack.

Local transport is what most travelers overlook while planning their vacations, but like most of the best hotels in the world. These destinations are comparable in accommodation as Ontario in San Bernardino County, California, famous for the Ontario Mills, and Ontario Motor Speedway, and Ontario California hotel where can be a preferred place for most visitors. Here, being very near to Ontario International Airport (ONT), and attractions like Ontario Mills Mall and San Manuel Amphitheater, the airport shuttle service offered by Ontario Airport Hotel can solve the problem for local transport.

Houston, nicknamed as The Space City, has also one of the largest concentrations of well-maintained parks in the world, about 350 parks, such as Hermann Park that houses the famous Houston Zoo, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Lake Houston Park, Discovery Green, and Sam Houston Park. And a ‘must-visit’ destination is Space Center Houston, where many exhibits including moon rocks (brought back from the moon by space missions to the moon), a shuttle simulator, and many attractive presentations about history of NASA's manned space flights program are exhibited.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tourism Industry and Hotels

Starting from the last decades of the 20th century, there has been a tremendous increase in tourism worldwide. The number of people traveling and staying in hotels is the highest now compared to any time in history. More and more people travel now, not only on vacations, but also for business and professional reasons.

With the increase in tourism, hospitality industry too grew tremendously, and, not only the number of hotel rooms but the levels of comfort and modern facilities available in hotels also have increased as never before. For instance, there has been an enormous growth in Los Angeles luxury hotels following the growth of the entertainment sectors like film production, television, and other technology and finance based industries. Similarly, there is also a rush for hotel deals New York that has become the global center of banking, finance, and many other industries.

There are over 700 quality hotels in London, and the number could be well over a thousand if hotels below three star ratings are also counted. Still, as industry sources report, there is felt the need for more budget hotels London. Whatever may be the growth in hotel services, the customers seem to be asking for more, as sometimes rooms are just not available in many cities, especially during certain occasions like major sports events like Olympics, Commonwealth Games, various world cup events, etc.

This problem can be easily solved with a little bit of planning by tourists or corporate travelers. The first thing is to book accommodation in hotels of the desired star ratings so that last minute disappointment can be avoided. Most hotels are online now, but a better option will be using comparison sites where the rates for rooms and other services such as transportation, food and beverages can be compared before booking. They help the customers to save considerably too.

A major advantage in using hotel accommodation comparison sites is that you can always be sure about the quality of accommodation at excellent rates in most preferred destinations throughout the world. They only list hotels that meet their strict criteria for all accommodation providers. They also help you with providing information on customer service, last minute bookings, cancellations, and above all ensure the best services at the most competitive rates.

Polynesian Catamaran by John Webber

This image of the engraving by John Webber shows priests, wearing helmets, traveling across Kealakekua Bay for the first contact rituals (click to enlarge the photo). Each helmet is a gourd, with foliage and Tapa strip decoration. A feather surrounded Akua is in the arms of the priest at the center of the engraving. It is not known what the purpose of the ritual surrounding first contact with westerners was. Webber (1752-1793), the British artist best known for his images of early Alaska and Hawaii, was an artist aboard the ship of English explorer, navigator and cartographer James Cook (1728-1779). The image is scanned from page 20 of the book ‘Hawaii Looking Back: An illustrated History of the Islands (2004), by Glenn Grant (454pp, Mutual Publishing).

You can compare the shape of the Catamaran in this engraving with the shape of the hotel, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Catamaran, a word derived from the word ‘kettumaram’ found in Tamil and Malayalam languages, is a type of multi-hulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls. Catamarans can be powered by sail or engine-powered.

Catamarans are used since time immemorial by the paravas, a fishing community in the southern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and independently in Oceania, where Polynesian catamarans and outrigger canoes allowed seafaring Polynesians to settle the world's most far-flung islands.

In the 1690s the English adventurer and buccaneer William Dampier reached the southeastern coast of India, in Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal and wrote about a kind of vessel he observed there. He wrote in 1697, “On the coast of Coromandel, they call them Catamarans. These are but one log, or two, sometimes of a sort of light wood… so small, that they carry but one man, whose legs and breech are always in the water.”

Though the name is of Indian linguistic origins, the modern catamaran came from the South Pacific nations (where Polynesians settled), writers on design of boats and ships claim. Also, the English travelers applied the Tamil-derived name ‘catamaran’ to the swift, stable sail and paddle boats made out of two separated logs and used by Polynesian natives to get from one island to another.

Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel

The notes under this upload reads: "Picture from catamaran of both Jumeirah Beach Hotel an Burj Al Arab."