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A $22 billion treasure trove unearthed beneath Kerala’s Padmanabhaswamy Temple has sparked a fierce political and public debate over ownership and how best to put the vast wealth to use. The vaults of the 16th century temple were prised open for the first time in June, since when public calls have grown for redistribution of the wealth to the poor.
Discovered in the vaults were a dazzling stash of gold ornaments, Napoleonic era coins and sacks of gemstones. The archaeological find, one of the greatest ever made in India, has triggered a fierce legal battle for custodianship, pitting the royal family of Travancore, which controls the temple, against the Kerala High Court that has asked the state government to bring the temple under a public trust.
The 500-year-old temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is unique in terms of architecture and mythology, with legends of a curse protecting the long-hidden treasure.
Investigators plan to pry open the final vault hidden deep under a centuries-old Indian Hindu temple as police guarded round the clock the shrine where billions of dollars worth of treasure has been discovered. Over the last week a seven-member team of investigators has broken into five of the six secret subterranean vaults piled high with jewels that have lain untouched for hundreds of years.
India's Supreme Court has suspended a High Court ruling over the partition of a disputed site that has been a flashpoint for Hindu-Muslim clashes, throwing one of the country's most religiously-divisive legal battles into uncertainty. A two-justice bench questioned the reasoning behind a ruling passed last year that divided the site of the former Babri Masjid mosque destroyed by Hindu rioters in 1992 into three separate plots for Hindus, Muslims, and a local Hindu trust.
Christians in Nepal have threatened to parade corpses in the capital to press the government into finding them alternative burial grounds after burials near the country's holiest Hindu shrine were banned.
Christians account for less than two percent of Hindu-majority Nepal's 28 million people. Authorities barred them this month from burying their dead in the forested graveyard at Sleshmantak saying the land belonged to the Pashupatinath Hindu temple, a U.N. heritage site in Kathmandu.
A stampede sparked by a night-time road accident in dense forest has killed more than 100 Hindu pilgrims in the southern state of Kerala in India. Kerala’s deputy general of police told reporters that 102 people who visited the Sabarimala Temple to offer prayers to the Hindu deity Ayappa had been killed on Friday night. Officials at a Hindu temple estimated the death toll at around 100, Kerala Temple Affairs Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally said by telephone. (Photo: Pilgrims at Sabarimala Temple, January 15, 2003/Dipak Kumar)
Hundreds of thousands had gathered at the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala on Friday evening, the last day of an annual two-month religious festival. A bus carrying pilgrims back to the neighbouring state of Karnataka collided with a jeep and went out of control, crushing people walking nearby, Kadannappally said. Panicked pilgrims rushed forward, triggering a stampede.
(Photo: Jews pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 15, 2010/Baz Ratner)
The U.S. State Department has condemned an official Palestinian report last week asserting that Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, is not Jewish. Al-Mutawakil Taha, deputy information minister in the Palestinian Authority, published a five-page study last week disputing Jews' reverence of the shrine as a retaining wall of the compound of Biblical Jewish Temples destroyed centuries ago and saying it is a "Muslim wall and an integral part of al-Aqsa mosque and Haram al-Sharif."
"We strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Tuesday. "We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land," he added.
(Photo: Protesters stomp on cow’s head, 28 Aug 2009/Samsul Said)
A Malaysian court has sentenced a Muslim to a week in jail and fined 11 others for a brandishing a cow's head during a protest against the construction of a Hindu temple.
Critics said the light sentences on Tuesday may further strain race relations between Muslims, who make up the majority of the country's 28 million population, and minority Hindus and Christians who complain of discrimination.
Tibet is richer and more developed than it has ever been, its people healthier, more literate, and better dressed and fed. But the bulging supermarkets, snappy new airports and gleaming restored temples of this remote and mountainous region cannot hide broad contradictions and a deep sense of unhappiness among many Tibetans that China is sweeping away their culture. (Photo: A Tibetan woman spins her praying wheel as she walks around the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, March 10, 2010/China Daily)
Beijing has spent freely to bring development to restless Tibet, part of a grand strategy to win over the proudly Buddhist people by improving their standard of living. Lhasa is starting to look like any other middle-tier Chinese city, with the same fast food outlets and mobile phone stores, and the same unimaginative architecture.
He raps. He chants. And this month, Japan's famed hip-hop loving monk, better known as MC Happiness, will tap dance on stage, in the name of Buddhism.
Kansho Tagai heads the 400-year-old Kyoouji Temple in central Tokyo, offering softly chanted prayers throughout the day amid traditional bell chimes and wafts of incense.
News stories about Hindu-Muslim relations in India usually stress strains between followers of the two faiths. Here's a short Reuters video from our partner ANI on Hindus and Muslims worshipping side by side in a temple and a mazar (mausoleum) in Uttar Pradesh state: