HGH Announces an Advisory Board and Activities for 2013
From left: Dev Mahajan, Gaurang Nanavati, Sharad Amin(HGH President), Ramesh Bhutada, Beth Kulkarni and PC Sharma
HOUSTON: Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) took a major step in consolidating its status as an organization which speaks for all Hindus in the region by naming an Board of Advisors comprised of activists with solid credentials of community service and a stellar track record of leadership within their organizations.
The announcement was made at a meeting held at the Keshav Smruti on Saturday, December 8 attended by over representatives of most of the 28 Hindu temples and organizations in the Greater Houston area (representatives of six organizations were unable to attend).
HGH workers at HGH December 2012 meeting
The new Board of Advisors are Ramesh Bhutada of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh; Beth Kulkarni representing the American-Hindu community and the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands; Devinder Mahajan of the Arya Samaj of Greater Houston; Jugal Malani of India House; Gaurang Nanavaty of the Chinmaya Mission of Houston; P.C. Sharma of the Hindu Worship Society and Dr. Gopal Krishna of the Sri Meenakshi Temple Society.
The meeting also recognized the pioneers of the communitywide Janmashtami celebration – Raj Syal, Prabhat Chandra Sharma, Padmakant Khambati, Beth Kulkarni, Hari Kewalramani, Sharad Amin, and Dilip Mehta. The celebration started in 1989 as a brainchild of Syal and has now grown into a signature event for the legacy organization, Hindus of Greater Houston was said he was very happy with the progress made by its members.
”It is time to rethink our identity as Hindu Americans. Our next generation may not be able to identify themselves with India, yet the Hindu heritage will stick with them throughout their lives,” said Ramesh Bhutada. “The more we are united, the better we will be able to inculcate our culture on our children.” He said he was pleased to see so many Hindu organizations actively engage our youths.
Gaurang Nanavaty said the various organizations are like flowers in a garden – each one beautiful with its distinct color and fragrance and lauded the work of HGH. P.C. Sharma suggested that Hindus should consider a communitywide celebration of Diwali along the lines of the Janmashtami event.
Dev Mahajan said Hindus were doing well “within their cocoon” but needed to reach out to the mainstream to ensure that Hinduism is understood correctly. He gave the example of the recent incident of bullying of two Hindu boys (because of their religion) in Humble ISD and said HGH worked with the school district to resolve the issue.
Beth Kulkarni said she was fortunate to be accepted by the Hindu community and her example often makes Hindu youth consider the merits of their heritage and show an interest in it.
The meeting began with the recitation of the Bhagavad Gita Dhayana Shloka and Guru Vandana by three young children – Amogha, Vidya and Vedant – of the Arsha Vidya Satsangh. Sharad Amin, President of HGH welcomed everyone by emphasizing that the goal of HGH was to unite all Hindu organizations and to raise good Hindu Americans descendants India, the Caribbean, Bhutan, Nepal and other countries who were knowledgeable and proud of their heritage.
Thara Narasimhan introduced representatives of various Hindu organizations — Ashirwad A Blessing, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Sri Sitaram Foundation, Arya Samaj of Greater Houston, Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple, Patanjali Yogpeeth, Chinmaya Mission, Gujarati Samaj of Houston, Hindu Temple of The Woodlands, Indo-American Cultural Heritage Foundation, BAPS Swami Narayan Temple, Isha Foundation, Sri Meenakishi Temple, Naamdwar (Global Organization of Divinity), Sanatan Hindu Center, Govindaji Gaudiya Math, Hindu Worship Society, Hindu Students Association, Sringeri Vidyabharati Foundation and the Lakshminarayan Temple, which has a congregation of Hindus from the Caribbean, Nepali Hindu organization, Swamahiman, Udipi Sri Krishna Temple and Bhutan Vedic Seva Samiti.
Each representative spoke briefly on one signature event that was coming up for his/her organization. This was indeed an eye opener for many to take note of the various activities that the organizations were involved in.
The past events of 2012 and grand 25th year celebration of Janmashtami in 2014 was covered by Partha Krishnaswamy, Vice President of HGH. Youth awards on behalf of Richa Dixit was conveyed by Thara Narasimhan who pointed out that the youth formed an integral part of our Hindu organizations and recognizing them not only encourages them to do more but also be proud of our heritage. She also recognized the younger members of HGH board Vinod Mantri, Sanjay Jajoo, Richa Dixit and Dharminder Dargan. The website update, Hindu Jewish meeting on Jan 6 and Calendar of events 2013 was discussed by Dharminder Dargan and media, publicity highlights and public relations work were showcased by Vijay Pallod who was the main coordinator of this event. HGH introduced their latest coordinator. Desh Kapoor who has taken the initiative to start a Hindu blog with Houston Chronicle.
Hindus of Greater Houston partnerships and affiliated organizations presented their special events – Manoj Rathi from Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh spoke about SV150 event highlighting Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birth Anniversary; Ruchita Naik, President of the Hindu Students Association at University of Houston talked about their activities and programs; Chaya Timmaraju elaborated on the activities associated with Swami Vivekananda and Youth Convention happening January 12, 2013; Girish Naik former HGH President spoke about the Kite festival by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad America; Kriti Dogra from Sewa International emphasized the community outreach program and Sushma Mahajan reiterated the importance of Inter Faith Dialogue and associated activities in the Greater Houston area.