Category: South Asians Abroad Published on Sunday, 19 August 2012 10:01 Written by Tapa Menon
Seaside City Council in California (USA), incorporated in 1954, had its first Hindu opening prayer on August 16 evening, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.
Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the City Council. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, 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, Zed sprinkled few drops of water from river Ganga of India, considered holy by Hindus, around the podium before the prayer. Mayor Felix Bachofner welcomed and thanked Zed. “It is a historic moment of pride for the community when the prayers from ancient Sanskrit scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy of this great city of Seaside”, Zed stated before starting the invocation.
Rajan 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.
City of Seaside, one of whose goal is "enhance engagement with the public" and which claims to be "internationally recognized tourist destination", is home to California State University—Monterey Bay, Message Mountain and Monterey College of Law. Prominent people associated with it include football analyst Herman Edwards Junior, fashion designer Rachel Roy and footballers Mason Foster and Tony Curtis. Steve Bloomer and John Dunn are Mayor Pro Tem and Interim City Manager respectively.