Vedic Graduation Pooja at Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Northborough, MA
|In Northborough’s holy Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, four Hindu-American high school students and one college student graduated in a traditional Vedic service on June 22st, 2014. The graduating students were Astha Agrawal, Adhithyan Krishnan, Aditya Datye, Anant Garg, and Samarth Gupta. The graduates, their proud parents, friends, scholars, pujaris, and several Temple committee members assembled early on Sundaymorning to participate in this unique Samskara service, held in the United States for the seventh time. The seventh annual graduation pooja was cosponsored by Gurustanthan – Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple and Vishwa Hindu Parishad Bal Vihars.
The service began with Ekta Mantra (mantra that reminds of the underlying Unity among all) sung by Preetham, Srinidhi, Krishna and Amruth and Krishna, who did an excellent job as the emcee as well. Shri M. Rama Rao ji enthralled everyone when he sang the stuti of Ma Saraswati followed by a bhajan by his four years old granddaughter. The Vandana of the Devi of Learning had a calming effect on the audience with the graduates prepared to participate in the ensuing pooja and absorb the messages from the pujaris and the various speakers.
With the lighting of the diya, and with everyone’s minds focused and cleansed, we were now ready to begin the auspicious rite. Smt. Santhi Reddi gave the opening remarks urging the students to be mindful that their parents have been instrumental in their success and they should never forget their contribution in their life.
The temple pujari, Pandit Jagdeeshan ji, conducted the service beginning with Sri Ganesha Pooja followed by Ma Saraswati Pooja. He emphasized that everyone should respect his/her parents, teachers and Ishwar and by respecting your parents and teachers, you are respecting the Ishwar as well. Each graduate participated individually and collectively in the Pooja seeking success in college and future educational efforts.
All students were called individually, their accomplishments, acknowledged, and awarded a graduation certificate with a bag of gifts on behalf of the Temple by Pandit Jagdeeshan ji. They all had a chance to talk for 2-3 minutes about their accomplishments, goals, and aspirations as they accepted their awards.
The final remarks and blessings were given by Dr. Abhaya Asthana. He inspired the students to continue on their quest for higher learning, and always leave room for Ishwara and Self development. The graduating students were reminded that they were fortunate for all they had. The students are fortunate to have their education, their families, and their supportive community.
The ceremony was followed by a delicious lunch which was lovingly prepared by the families of the graduating students. All the students agreed that this was an event that will live forever in their memory as a motivation to excel above and beyond. The education samskaras are considered most important as Hindus recognize education to be the stepping stone to future enlightenment for eventual liberation from the bondage of rebirths. A samskara ceremony creates a positive imprint or channel in the mind of the recipient akin to a little path. The purpose is to guide future thoughts and resulting actions to travel along this familiar path assisting the individual to think and act in an appropriate manner conducive to living in accordance with dharma. The students are fortunate to have this samskara service conducted by interested friends. Indeed, all present were blessed to be in the direct presence of Sri Ganesha and Sai Baba with the accomplishment of all four goals of life: dharma (right living), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation).
All students were asked to bow to Sri Ganesha, Sai Baba, their mothers, their fathers, and all others present in the congregation, as God resides in all. They were further asked to go out fearlessly in the world and to be proud to call themselves Hindu Americans.
Families interested in participating in next year’s Graduation Service should contact Sanjay Gupta:firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This article is sponsored by Kanan Sachdeva)
The Governor of Massachusetts as well as the Mayor of Marlboro proclaimed May 11, 2013 to be the Hindu Heritage Day. On this day, over 2000 Hindu Americans came together at Marlboro Middle School to celebrate a rich common heritage and culture, a precious inheritance passed down from our Vedic scientists called Rishis. This is the 17th consecutive year that a team of volunteers from VHPA has organized HHD which is an inclusive event connecting almost all Boston area organizations, large and small.
The theme of this year’s mela was Shakti or energy which was in abundant display at the mela. The universe that we see and experience is none other than a bundle of energy, both packed and unpacked. The same energy when it manifests at one level of vibration is called ‘matter,’ at another level ‘mind,’ and yet another level ‘life.’ Hindu philosophy based on Vedanta and a group of Hindu works commonly known as Tantras postulate that the source of all creation, whether at the level of matter, mind, or life is one and one only. It is Shakti or energy. When that energy is in a static condition, with neither evolution nor involution, when the universe to be created is not even in a seed form, it is called Brahman. When it starts evolving into this creation, sustains it, and withdraws it back into itself, it is called Shakti. In the Hindu tradition, this energy is always pictured as a female deity, the Devi, as the consort of its counterpart male deity. Each member of the Trinity has his Shakti or Devi as his consort: Ma Saraswati of Brahma, Sri Lakshmi of Vishnu, and Mata Parvati of Shiva. Though all the female deities are called Shaktis of their male counterparts, the words ‘Shakti,’ and ‘Devi’ are more particularly or even exclusively used to denote the Shakti of Shiva, the innumerable aspects of Mata Parvati.
The cultural program organized around the theme of Shakti held the audience captive by its excellence, variety of programming, and educational content. Almost all the dance schools and master teachers of the greater Boston area were represented by their best students replete with creatively designed colorful costumes. It was a feast for the mind and the senses, keeping audience virtually glued to their seats, taking in all the production. There were bhajans and plays that enthralled the audience. This year marks the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. This important occasion was marked by an extensive poster display of inspiring quotes of Swamiji. The cultural program had an enactment of Swamiji’s famous Chicago address impeccably delivered by a High School student complete with saffron robes. There was a one act play depicting the life of Swamiji and his great contribution to mankind. A poster contest on Swami Vivekananda was held for all ages where two $50 and four $25 prizes were awarded to entries judged by popular vote as well as on originality, effort, relevance to society, and artistic impression.
The green rooms and the corridor leading to the stage were abuzz with excitement as the parents and coaches prepared children for the stage ensuring all costumes and make up were in place. This in itself was a sight to behold. There were families everywhere. In the 37 booths placed in different corridors there was information available on virtually every aspect of life that a Hindu American may need. There was information on VHPA August children’s camp held in Tolland, Massachusetts every year. There were booths selling a variety of children’s books, including difficult to find educational comic books and spiritual children’s books introducing dharmic concepts. The books geared towards adult readers were just as numerous. There was information on three greater Boston area Bal Vihars (schools) operating in Newton, Southborough, and Lexington, where children learn and discover their heritage while playing. Mother’s Day was the following day so it was possible to get just the right jewelry and clothes being sold in many booths. All the spiritual centers were represented who encouraged all to try different readings and meditation techniques for individual spiritual advancement.
The snacks of samosas and pakoras were most popular in the afternoon. This was complemented with chai being sold to raise funds for Support-A-Child program. Ekal Vidyalaya was well represented. The cafeteria was also a hub of activity all the time, first serving snacks and then dinner. To keep the children in the cafeteria entertained, there were educational videos played on a large screen on the Ramayana and works of Sri Krishna. Due to the larger than expected number of people, the food vendor had to requisition extra supplies of prepared food half way through the evening. Kulfi in exotic flavors was a big hit with young and old alike. Outdoors, there was kite flying activity organized for enthusiasts with kites and dori provided. Due to the large attendance, many people reconnected with acquaintances after a long interval of time. For newcomers to HHD event comes as a pleasant surprise due to the low profile advertising for it. For most families, it is difficult to participate in all the varied activities going on simultaneously. However, the nice part of this event is that this traditional get together is organized every year so there is always an opportunity to engage in different activities each year.
If you missed this annual event, then look for it next year in the month of May. For participating in the cultural program, please plan early and contact Smt. Jaya Asthana at email@example.com
For securing a booth, please contact Mr. Kaushik bhai Patel firstname.lastname@example.org.
VHP of America is a national organization which has among its objectives to unite Hindus by instilling in them devotion to the Hindu way of life, to cultivate self-respect and respect for all people, and to establish contacts with Hindus all over the world. For more information please visit http://www.vhp-america.org/
Dr. Abhaya Asthana, the General Secretary of Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference, spoke on behalf of the Hindu American community at the 49th Annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast held at The Boston Park Plaza on May 22, 2013.
Dr. Asthana delivered a message of peace for all. He recounted that Hindu children, upon awakening from bed and before placing their feet on the ground, bow in reverence to mother earth for bearing their weight and ask forgiveness for putting a burden on Her. Hindu tradition holds a deep respect for all beings as well as Nature for all are interconnected. When we pray for the wellbeing and happiness of all then we ourselves experience the same. Dr. Asthana’s recitation of the Shanti Path, a mantra full of ancient wisdom, was a heartfelt wish for peace and tranquility beyond earth, on earth, and within us as individuals. Om, All should be happy, All should maintain good health, All should appreciate the positive aspects of life, May None experience sorrow. Om, Peace be, Peace be, Peace be.
The Annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast brings together prominent business, professional, political, religious and community leaders for fellowship, music, and reflection. Sponsored by The Rotary club of Boston #7, this year held special significance as prayers were held for the victims of the April 15 terrorist attack at the Boston marathon. At the same time appreciation and heartfelt gratitude was expressed to the individuals and response teams who rushed to assist without regard to personal safety. The Boston organizations honored for their ongoing community service specifically were: Victim Rights Law Center, Fenway Health, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Risa S, Rosengard Foundation, Mother Caroline Academy & Education Center, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, and Wellness Inc.’s Alphabet Fitness.
Michele McPhee, author and New England correspondent of ABC news welcomed all the participants. The program was called to order by David Manzi, Chair of the Prayer Breakfast. The Hon. Thomas M. Menino, Mayor, City of Boston was unable to attend due to ill health. Rev. Stephen T. Ayres, Vicar of the Old North church of Boston read an invocation. The Very Reverend David Michael, Associate Director of Catholic Archdiocese of Boston read from the Scriptures. The Hon. Steven Grossman, Treasurer & Receiver- General of Massachusetts spoke about the Boston tragedy and the natural response of the people. Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Senior Vice President represented the Union for Reform Judaism. Imam Talal Eid, Founder/Executive/Religious Director of The Islamic Institute of Boston represented the American Islamic community. Alan Trefler, CEO & Founder of Pegasystems was a keynote speaker and a sponsor of the event. Dr. Abhaya Asthana represented the Hindu American community. President of Boston city Council, The Hon. Stephen J. Murphy spoke about the city’s united response to this tragedy. Shastri Carolyn L. Krusinski of Shambhala Meditation Center of Boston representing the Buddhist tradition shared words of wisdom. Before the Breakfast concluded with the closing remarks of Lucy Millan, President of Rotary Club #7, the program participants were held captivated by the soulful rendering of God Bless America sung by the soloist Daniel M. Clark.