by Sanchali Basu
Houston: The Houston chapter of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS) held its tenth annual Hindu Sangathan Divas conference on Saturday, May 30, at the Sri Govindaji Goudiya Matha. Representatives of about 50 Hindu organizations from the Houston area attended the conference.
Hindu Sangathan Divas provided a platform for representatives of Houston area Hindu organizations the opportunity to network with each other under one roof, learn from each other’s experiences and challenges, while at the same time maintaining their autonomy.
After an introduction session, representatives attended one of three parallel breakout sessions, covering “Community Outreach through International Yoga Day (IYD),” “Synergizing Sewa Activities in Houston Hindu Organizations,” and “Creating Second Generation Hindu Youth Leadership.” Each breakout session included a presentation from an experienced panel followed by discussion.
The first group concentrated on making the IYD to be held at the George Brown Convention Center on Saturday, June 21 a huge success. The panelists discussed ways of promoting the event through mass outreach via media, email, social network sites and word of mouth. They all agreed that it needed to be made attractive to all segments of society and make it a vehicle to propagate the benefits of Yoga as a primary tool of health.
The second group concurred that sewa related activities can be done on an individual level and the importance of being environment friendly by “Going green” was emphasized. On a community level, sewa activities can be done by helping the poor, engage the youth, and help in disaster situations like
Nepal earthquake relief. Current areas of focus are challenges faced by Hindu senior citizens and international students. The third group comprising mainly of young individuals considered several issues including the need for next generation leadership and the challenges that they are facing. Since there are cultural and communication differences between generations, a few simple and involved activities encompassing matching interests and talents to temple activities could bridge the gap. Public speaking among the youth should be encouraged. Organizations should also consider sponsoring different programming tailored for different age groups to keep second-generation Hindus involved. Providing an anonymous forum for youth to ask questions would also help in getting some of the questions posed by the youngsters answered.
Following the breakout sessions, attendees heard the keynote address delivered by Ved Nanda, professor of International Law and HSS USA president. He saluted the Houston Hindu organizations on coming together as a vibrant and dynamic community. He glorified the Hindu ideals of pluralism, inclusiveness, selfless service, spiritual way of life, devotion and kindness towards humanity and above all the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – viewing the world as one family.
The hall was filled to capacity with very excited, enthusiastic members from all participating organizations. The facilities and hospitality offered by the youth volunteers and members of the Sri Goudiya Temple were remarkable. The day’s activities ended with Arati and Prasad. The conference was executed like a well oiled machine due to the sincere efforts of all volunteers of HSS.