Monday, January 29, 2001

Indian earthquake resonates here

Sorrow, prayers shared at Hindu Temple

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hindu priest Devanath Shivachariyar offers prayers for earthquake victims at the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati.
(Michael E. Keating photos)
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        Still stunned by the devastating earthquake in their homeland, more than 100 Indians found comfort in prayer and one another Sunday at the Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati.

        Some have yet to hear about relatives in Gujarat, the Indian state hit hardest by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake Friday. The death toll is more than 6,000 and may climb as high as 30,000.

        “Everybody is worried, but we share each other's sorrow and talk about things,” said Madhu Sharma, chairwoman for religious activity at the temple in Union Township, Clermont County.

        For others, bad news has already arrived. Dr. Dolar Zumkhawala of Indian Hill learned Friday that her first cousin died in the earthquake.

Nikith Reddy, 5, and sister Kavya, 9.
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        “We grew up together, sleeping in the same bed,” she said. “It is sad news. She was practically at the doorstep, and her building collapsed. Her two sons and her husband were able to escape, but she was not.”

        At Sunday's puja, a Hindu prayer ceremony, Dr. Zumkhawala led a chant of shanti path, or prayers of peace for souls who died.

        Individual stories of horror and triumph are just beginning to emerge from Gujarat. An 18-month-old baby was found alive in rubble, but her mother died before rescuers reached her. A surgeon stitched a 5-year-old girl's scalp back on her head, then prepared to amputate a grandmother's legs.

        There is so little anyone here can do, local Hindus said, except pray and send donations to victims. There are 1,200 Indian families in Greater Cincinnati — about 300 of them from Gujarat.

        Although Hindus mourn those who died, said Hari Maddali of Sharonville, they believe in reincarnation.“The soul never dies,” he said. “The spirit is there always.”


               • A fund-raiser dinner for Gujarat earthquake victims will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ankur Gujarati Samaj, 9502 Highland Ave., Blue Ash. Donations are $25 and up per couple. Reservations are required. Call 874-5074.

        • Donations may also be sent to: Ankur Gujarati Samaj, 9502 Highland Ave., Blue Ash, OH 45242. Checks should be made out to Ankur Samaj.

        • The Cincinnati Area American Red Cross is accepting financial donations for the disaster as well. Send them to: Cincinnati Area American Red Cross, 720 Sycamore St., Cincinnati 45202-2185. Credit card donations may be made by calling 1-800-HELPNOW.

Red Cross worker aids quake recovery
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