Category: South Asians Abroad Published on Thursday, 12 July 2012 10:24 Written by Tapa Menon
Stockton City Council in California (USA) had its first Hindu invocation on July 10, which was nearly 162 years since the city was incorporated.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who delivered invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the City Council, commented in the beginning of the prayer: “It is a historical and special invocation as we are invoking God through ancient Sanskrit scriptures to help City of Stockton hoping that it comes out even stronger through these challenging times.”
Stockton recently became the largest American city ever to declare bankruptcy.
After Sanskrit delivery, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, then read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
Rajan Zed recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.
Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Rajan Zed presented a copy of Bhagavad-Gita to Mayor Ann Johnston, who welcomed and thanked Zed. Councilmembers, city employees and public were seen standing in prayer mode with their heads bowed down during this invocation.
Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader, who besides taking up the cause of religion worldwide, has also raised huge voice against the apartheid faced by about 15-million Roma (Gypsies) in Europe. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Starting as a muddy-street gold-rush camp and incorporated in 1850, Stockton is now known as "California's Sunrise Seaport" and contains 49 historical landmarks and has received “All-America City” award and named “Best Tree City”. Area around Stockton grows asparagus, cherries, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, grapes, etc., and produces prize-winning wines. About 40 motion pictures have been filmed in Stockton including "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (Steven Spielberg) and it is known for its annual Asparagus Festival, Haggin Museum, University of the Pacific, and USA’s first Sikh Gurdwara (established 1912). Forbes magazine named Stockton as "America's Most Miserable City" and the same magazine in 2005 linked it with the worst crime rate in USA. Kathy Miller is Vice Mayor and Bob Deis is the City Manager of Stockton whose about 22% population is Asian. Prominent people associated with it include singer Chris Isaak, author Maxine Hong Kingston, and baseball player Dallas Braden.