Expatriates hold Eid, Christmas celebrations

A ceremony was held as part of the New Year, Eid al-Adha and Christmas celebrations at the Indian Cultural Centre on Friday. The ceremony was organised by Friends of Thrissur, a body of expatriates hailing from Indian state of Kerala.

Indian Ambassador Dr George Joseph inaugurated the ceremony by lighting a traditional lamp and cutting a cake. The inaugural ceremony was followed by a host of cultural activities. Salim Pavaratty and Aiswarya Murali entertained the audience with an array of popular Hindi and Malayalam songs.

Munner and Rasheed Kettungal followed it up with some Mappila songs. T M Nandakumar and Gini Francis rendered some old Malayalam songs. “Ranga Pooja” was the first of the series of dances performed on the occasion. Nina Chandran, Chandhini Krishna, Kinda, Sara Kuruvilla and Rajesh were the members of the team that staged “Ranga Pooja”. Akshai Bhasi, Aswin Suresh, Alfred Joseph and Sreethi Pushpan performed a cinematic dance. A team of Jasika, Joyal, Jereeka, Jacquiline and Jovanna presented a semi-classical dance.

At the meeting that held before the cultural show, the forum patron David Edakalathur issued its identity cards to members. Friends of Thrissur chief T V Brahmaduttan Thalikullam chaired the meeting. Shahul Panickaveettil welcomed the gathering and Johnson C Ukken proposed a vote of thanks.

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Visit Pokhara Year 2007 begins in Nepal

Posted On January 3, 2007

Filed under News Asia, Travel Asia
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A year long event, Visit Pokhara Year 2007 has been inaugurated by Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Pradeep Gyawali on January 01, 2007 in  Pokhara, the western tourism hub of Nepal.

The main objectives of the event are to enhance the image of Pokhara as a must see tourist destination of Nepal, to help increase tourism activities in Nepal in the post-conflict political scenario of Nepal, to promote Pokhara, Lumbini, Palpa, Syangja, Tanahu and surrounding tourist destinations, to involve all key players and stakeholders for their active participation in enhancing the image of Pokhara and the surroundings, to help in conserving major products like Phewa Lake, Begnas Lake, Buddhist Circuits etc, and identify and support in the area of improving human resources.

Inaugurating the event at a special function, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Pradeep Gyawali said: “The celebration is being held to cash in on an opportunity brought about by the ongoing peace process. With Visit Pokhara program, the government is attempting to spur tourism sector in the Western Region. The government is in the process of unveiling new Tourism Master Plan and Tourism Policy to boost the industry.”

In response to the organizers’ request, local leaders of major political parities pledged that they would reach a consensus among all political parities not to call for general strikes in Pokhara during the year-long celebration. The campaign is the largest tourism event after restoration of peace in the country, will be marked by a series of celebrations throughout the year.

Japan TV apologises for “topless” New Year’s Eve shock

A troupe of dancers in skin-coloured body suits had Japanese national broadcaster NHK apologising to viewers of its New Year’s Eve music special for what seemed to be a full-scale Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction.

The dancers, who all appeared to be topless and wore skimpy bikini-style bottoms and feathered head-dresses, covered the stage during a performance by singer DJ OZMA, prompting about 250 viewers to phone in and complain.

“The dancers were wearing body suits, but we apologise for any misunderstanding,” a presenter announced towards the end of the 57th annual “Red and White Song Contest”.

“I guess it looked a bit too real,” local media quoted the singer as telling reporters after the show, which regularly tops viewer ratings on New Year’s Eve in Japan.

World welcomes New Year

Hundreds of thousands of revellers flooded New York’s Times Square to watch the famed crystal ball as it dropped to mark the New Year.

It was a scene repeated, with some variations, around the world as millions cheered impressive fireworks celebrations while others saw 2006 capped with bombings and death.

Preparations for the Times Square countdown had begun days in advance, complete with the cheering and the kisses. Partygoers, projected to reach a million, were in high spirits, cheering and joking in the unseasonably warm evening. The New York festivities include a star-studded line-up, including performances by singers Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton, rap group Three 6 Mafia and country band Rascal Flatts.

Security was tight in and around Times Square and spectators passed through police checkpoints while bomb-sniffing dogs roamed the crowd. Texas band Radiant kicked off the event, when the famously flashy New Year’s Eve ball was raised to the top of a flagpole.

Across the globe, the countdown to the New Year was marked, in parts, with a combination of joy, tears, prayers and hopes.

In Rio de Janeiro, nearly 21,000 police officers fanned out across the Brazilian city, many patrolling impoverished slums ruled by gangs, to guarantee the safety of tourists and revellers at a huge New Year’s Eve bash on the famed Copacabana beach. The show of force comes after gang attacks left 19 dead last week in Rio.

In Sydney, fireworks exploded over Harbour Bridge as a million onlookers celebrated the New Year. The display was to celebrate the bridge’s 75th anniversary.

Hundreds of thousands of others cheered in London as Big Ben rang in 2007. The chimes were relayed by sound systems along the River Thames and the onlookers lined its banks near the Houses of Parliament to watch a light show countdown projected on to the 443ft London Eye wheel. The countdown was followed by a 10-minute fireworks display “big enough and loud enough to be seen … all over the capital”, mayor Ken Livingstone said.

In India, police arrested two suspected Islamic militants about half a mile from the site of New Delhi’s main public New Year’s Eve celebrations, a report said.

Pope Benedict XVI prayed at a New Year’s Eve service at the Vatican City in Rome that 2007 would bring the world “peace, comfort, justice”.

In Romania and Bulgaria, midnight marked a historic milestone, with the two countries becoming the newest members of the European Union. Fireworks thundered through the sky in the Romanian and Bulgarian capitals, which were decorated with the EU’s blue-and-gold flags.

Bad weather dampened celebrations in other parts of Europe. In Belfast, an outdoor concert that was to feature soul singer Beverley Knight and rock band The Thrills was called off because of the threat of gale-force winds. In Glasgow high winds and rain had forced officials to cancel traditional Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations.

No official celebrations were planned in Paris, but thousands were expected to congregate around the city’s most famous avenue, the Champs-Elysees, to welcome 2007.

In the Philippines, where many believe noisy New Year celebrations drive away evil and misfortune, police threatened to arrest anyone setting off oversized firecrackers.

In Japan, thousands climbed mountains, some scaling famed Mount Fuji, to greet the first dawn of the year. Police expected crowds at the summits to reach 15,000.

In Iraq, New Year’s Eve was another day marked by death, following the burial of executed former leader Saddam Hussein. The US military announced the death of a US soldier in Iraq, raising to 3,000 the American death toll in the country since the war began.

From Sydney to Bucharest, fireworks welcome new year

The world welcomed 2007 with skyrockets and rock concerts. But in some corners of the globe, the new year was marked by bombings.

Fireworks exploded over Sydney Harbour Bridge as a million onlookers greeted the new year. In London, thousands of revelers gathered to cheer as Big Ben rang in 2007.

But the Thai capital of Bangkok canceled the main celebration after nine bombs exploded across the city, many in crowded tourist areas. Two people were killed and 34 were injured.

In Sydney, one of the world’s first major cities to usher in the new year, people crammed the harbor shore for the lavish fireworks display celebrating the 75th anniversary of the iconic bridge. 

Thousands of would-be revelers who had gathered at Bangkok’s Central World Plaza shopping mall complex for the event were sent home, officials said. Festivities continued in other parts of the city, though, including the famous Patpong Road red light district. Police and army troops with assault rifles, meanwhile, guarded some tourist sites, mass transit stations and traffic circles.

In India, police arrested two suspected Islamic militants about 1 kilometer, half a mile, from the site of New Delhi’s main public New Year’s Eve celebrations, a report cited police as saying.

Pope Benedict XVI prayed at a New Year’s Eve service at the Vatican City in Rome that 2007 would bring the world “peace, comfort, justice.”

In London, Big Ben’s chimes were relayed by sound systems along the banks of the great, gray River Thames. Crowds flocked to the banks near the Houses of Parliament to watch a light show countdown projected onto the 443-foot London Eye Ferris wheel, followed by a 10-minute fireworks display “big enough and loud enough to be seen … all over the capital,” Mayor Ken Livingstone said.

At least a million revelers were expected to flood Times Square in unseasonably warm New York City to see performances by singers Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton. The crowd will also cheer and watch a 1,070-pound Waterford Crystal ball fall at midnight. 

In North Korea, an editorial carried in all three state-controlled newspapers celebrated the new year by boasting that the country’s possession of nuclear weapons “serves as a powerful force for defending peace and security… and guaranteeing the victorious advance of the cause of independence.” The editorial exhorted North Koreans to “mercilessly defeat any invasion of the U.S. imperialists.”

Meanwhile, two former Communist Eastern bloc states, Romania and Bulgaria, took another step toward the West as they became the newest members of the European Union at midnight. Fireworks thundered through the sky in the Romanian and Bulgarian capitals, which were decorated with the EU’s blue-and-gold flags. 

Bad weather dampened celebrations in other parts of Europe. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, an outdoor concert that was to feature soul singer Beverley Knight and rock band The Thrills was called off due to the threat of gale-force winds. Glasgow officials said high winds and rain had forced them to cancel traditional Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations in the Scottish city. Edinburgh at the last minute also canceled its Hogmanay party, which was to be headlined by the Pet Shop Boys.

In Belgium, several fireworks displays were canceled after two party tents set up for celebrations in northern Belgium blew away on Saturday. No official celebrations were planned in Paris, but thousands were expected to congregate around the city’s most famous avenue, the Champs-Elysees, to welcome 2007.

In the Philippines, where many believe noisy New Year’s celebrations drive away evil and misfortune, police threatened to arrest anyone setting off oversized firecrackers. Despite the warning, 284 people were injured by firecrackers and celebratory gunfire in the two weeks before New Year’s Day, a 75 percent rise from last year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

In Japan, thousands climbed mountains, some scaling famed Mount Fuji, to greet the first dawn of the year. Police expected crowds at the summits to reach 15,000. Many Japanese, ranging from families with children to elderly couples, usually start climbing at night so they can reach the top in time for sunrise. Police anticipated 95 million visitors to the country’s major Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines over the first three days of the new year, as people offer prayers for peace, health and prosperity in one of the few religious rites in which most Japanese regularly take part.

The South African city of Cape Town prepared to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a show by the Cape Minstrels.

Celebrations were well-attended around the world

Police estimated that a million people crammed the shore in Sydney, one of the world’s first major cities to greet the New Year, for the fireworks and daylong festivities.

Thousands of Japanese climbed Mount Fuji and other peaks to watch the first sunrise of the year.

Thousand of revelers gathered around London’s Big Ben in stiff winds to watch the fireworks, and large crowds congregated around Paris’s most famous avenue, the Champs-Elysées, to welcome 2007.

From Sydney to Bucharest, fireworks welcome New Year

Fireworks exploded over Sydney’s Harbor Bridge as a million onlookers celebrated the New Year. In London, hundreds of thousands of revelers cheered as Big Ben rang in 2007, but the Thai capital canceled its main event after a series of deadly bombings.

In the Australian capital, one of the world’s first major cities to usher in the new year, people crammed the harbor shore for the lavish fireworks display celebrating the 25th anniversary of the iconic bridge.

But in Thailand, city officials canceled Bangkok’s main New Year’s Eve celebration Sunday after a series of bombs killed two people and wounded more than 30. Thousands of revelers who had gathered at the Central World Plaza shopping mall complex for the event were sent home, officials said.

In India, police arrested two suspected Islamic militants about 1 kilometer (half a mile) from the site of New Delhi’s main public New Year’s Eve celebrations, a report cited police as saying.

Pope Benedict XVI prayed at a New Year’s Eve service at the Vatican City in Rome that 2007 would bring the world “peace, comfort, justice.”

In London, Big Ben’s chimes were relayed by sound systems along the River Thames. Hundreds of thousands of people crowded the river’s banks banks near the Houses of Parliament to watch a light show countdown projected onto the 443-foot (135-meter) London Eye Ferris wheel, followed by a 10-minute fireworks display, “big enough and loud enough to be seen … all over the capital,” Mayor Ken Livingstone said.

At least a million revelers were expected to flood Times Square in unseasonably warm New York City to see performances by singers Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton.

Police said everything was going according to plan, and there had been no reports of unruly onlookers. Security was tight in and around Times Square. Spectators, expected to number about a million by midnight, passed through police checkpoints, no big bags or backpacks were permitted and bomb-sniffing dogs roamed the crowd.

The Texas band Radiant kicked off the event, when the famously flashy New Year’s Eve ball was raised to the top of a flagpole.

Revelers practiced several countdowns to 2007 in the hours before the show, complete with cheers and New Year’s kisses.

In Romania and Bulgaria, midnight marked a historic milestone, with the two countries becoming the newest members of the European Union. Fireworks thundered through the sky in the Romanian and Bulgarian capitals, which were decorated with the EU’s blue-and-gold flags.

“Welcome to the EU,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told a crowd of tens of thousands at a celebration in Bucharest, where he was joined on stage by Romania’s president and European foreign ministers from Germany, Denmark, Austria and Hungary. Officials were flying later Monday to Sofia for celebrations there.

Bad weather dampened celebrations in other parts of Europe. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, an outdoor concert that was to feature soul singer Beverley Knight and rock band The Thrills was called off due to the threat of gale-force winds.

Glasgow officials said high winds and rain had forced them to cancel traditional Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations in the Scottish city. Edinburgh at the last minute also canceled its Hogmanay party, which was to be headlined by the Pet Shop Boys.

In Belgium, several fireworks displays were canceled after two party tents set up for celebrations in northern Belgium blew away on Saturday.

No official celebrations were planned in Paris, but thousands were expected to congregate around the city’s most famous avenue, the Champs-Elysees, to welcome 2007.

In the Philippines, where many believe noisy New Year celebrations drive away evil and misfortune, police threatened to arrest anyone setting off oversized firecrackers.

Despite the warning, 284 people were injured by firecrackers and celebratory gunfire in the two weeks before New Year’s Day, a 75 percent rise from last year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“I have campaigned every day against firecrackers,” Duque said. “But this has become a deeply rooted part of our culture.”

In Japan, thousands climbed mountains, some scaling famed Mount Fuji, to greet the first dawn of the year. Police expected crowds at the summits to reach 15,000.

Many Japanese, ranging from families with children to elderly couples, usually start climbing at night so they can reach the top in time for sunrise.

Police anticipated 95 million visitors to the country’s major Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines over the first three days of the new year, as people offer prayers for peace, health and prosperity in one of the few religious rites in which most Japanese regularly take part.

The South African city of Cape Town prepared to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a show by the Cape Minstrels.

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