HOUSTON: Seven Hindu youth received awards for their outstanding services at the 4th Hindu youth awards banquet in Houston on May 10 held by the Hindus of Greater Houston at the Arya Samaj premises. After the traditional opening ceremony the awards cum gala co-chair Richa Dixit aptly said “the youth are the torchbearers of tradition in upholding our dharma and heritage”
The two minute speech by the awardees on their achievements in promoting Hindu traditions was very inspiring. Advaith Ram from the Vedic Heritage School of Sri Meenakshi Temple Society, has devoted his volunteer activity in promoting organ donation. He found in the Hindu scripture, relevant passages which encouraged organ donation and initiated an organ donation drive among Houston’s South Asian community.
Nupur Shah, a 22 year old graduate of UT Austin, founded the DC Scholars program which raises money to sponsor 30 low income students for a visit to Washington DC – “many who have never been to an airport before.”
Suriya Sharma spent time at a Chinmaya village in India tutoring and educating low income children in math and English.
Shivang Shah, representing the Vallabh Preeti Seva Samaj, attributed his accomplishments to his parents and said he was getting the award because of them. He wants to help people through public health and believes that his religious duty.
Hejal Shah, said she learned to be leader from her association with the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and also understood the spirit of service. She is mentoring underprivileged children to go to college.
Nupur Shah, another awardee said “the Hindu community gave her a sense of belonging, identity and a sense of community” while Kavia Gupta learnt of seva or service as an “empowering force and as a lifestyle”.
Shivam Dave representing the Sanatan Hindu Center, stressed the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita that service should be rendered with no expectation and it is not for awards and rewards. Do your duty without expecting any benefit for yourself, he said.
India’s Consul General P. Harish, who was the chief guest, recalled his earlier one on one interaction with youth volunteers and said he was heartened by the interaction. “The youth gave me a different perspective,” he said. He appreciated the efforts made by the parents in “connecting” their US born children to Indian culture. When children visit India, they should be exposed to India’s heritage, economy, people, youth and so on and these interactions will make their visits more purposeful, Harish said.
Latha Ramchand, Dean and professor of finance at the C.T. Bauer School of Business at the
University of Houston who was the keynote speaker at the event said “What you have is not important. What you do with what you have is important. You are responsible for your actions and your actions are important.”
Ramchand lauded the parents for inculcating the true tenets of Hinduism in their children and to “continue doing whatever they were doing because it’s working.” Kids here may call it “outreach programs but it is simply seva and dharma.”
Chairperson of Arya Samaj Dev Mahajan also Chairperson of HGH board of advisors welcomed the gathering of about 375 people which included HGH Grand Sponsor – Ramesh Bhutada. He said “Hindus of Greater Houston has demonstrated the successful model of working together under one umbrella organization and hoped other cities in the U.S. emulated the example”. It was his idea to start celebrating youth awards at various temples. Next year will celebrate at Chinmaya Mission.
The evening’s speeches and awards were interspersed with spectacular dances and prayer songs by the children of D.A.V Montessori run by the Arya Samaj.
Partha Krishnaswamy, the Vice President and coordinator of the Janmashtami celebrations had a short presentation on the plans for the upcoming 25th janmanshatami celebration which led to interesting conversations around the dinner tables. The event will be held at George R Brown convention center on the 23 August 2014 with an expected attendance of 10,000.
HGH President Sharad Amin proposed the vote of thanks for the excellent program put together by the Arya Samaj and stated that these awards will inspire the younger generation to follow their role models – the evening’s awardees.