HOUSTON: The Houston chapter of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS) held its ninth annual Hindu Sangathan Divas conference on Saturday, June 14, at the Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple in Sugar Land. Representatives of over 40 Hindu organizations from the Houston area attended the conference.
Hindu Sangathan Divas offered representatives of Houston area Hindu organizations the opportunity to network with each other with the goal of synergizing the work of different Hindu organizations. Because these organizations serve the Hindu and mainstream community with a common purpose, they could exchange ideas, share material and resources, and learn from each other’s experiences and mistakes, while at the same time maintaining their autonomy.
After an introduction session, representatives attended one of three parallel breakout sessions, covering “Increasing American Hindu Identity and Awareness,” “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 developed the general consensus that organizing the Hindu Sangathan Divas conference itself took a large, positive step toward bringing the Houston area Hindu community together. The panelists raised the need for a Hindu-American identity and the challenges facing it. Attendees agreed that well formulated action plans, focusing on more cohesive, smaller groups and appropriate execution would be the key to reaching out to more people.
The second group concurred that one should put service above self and more community involvement with sewa related activities could increase awareness. Also, if different organizations collaborated and coordinated sewa related activities, it would have a greater impact. They also discussed sewa activities to address the needs and challenges of Hindu senior citizens, the Hindu Bhutanese refugee community, and Hindu families as well as how to engage and motivate volunteers.
The third group comprising mainly of young individuals considered several issues including the need for second-generation leadership and the challenges that they are facing. As a threshold matter, second-generation Hindus have to self-identify as Hindu. For second-generation Hindus to serve a leaders in Hindu organizations, the present leaders must engage and mentor them. Organizations should also consider sponsoring different programming tailored for different age groups to keep second-generation Hindu involved.
Following the breakout sessions, attendees heard the keynote address delivered by Vijay Simha, National Assistant Executive Director for HSS. Simha emphasized that Hindu organizations should seek to promote the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – viewing the world as one family – by coming together with shraddha and vishwas. He notes that if conference attendees maintain a healthy dialogue among Hindu organizations, without ego and self-interest, they will serve the interests of not only the larger Hindu community but also the rest of the world – “Hindu jage to Vishwa jagega.”
The hall was filled to capacity with very excited, enthusiastic members from all participating organizations, youth volunteers, priests of the Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple, and all left fulfilled with big smiles on their faces enjoying the day’s activities. The conference provided an excellent platform for the organizations to network, get to know and learn from each other.
HSS conducts a structured values education program through its 150 chapters nationwide to develop strong character and teamwork and leadership skills and to organize a dynamic and flourishing Hindu-American community.
For further information, visit www.hssus.org.