November 22, 2015 was an evening of remembrances attended by over 250 persons in Newton. An evening to remember our departed Mahapurushas: Arun Agarwal, H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and Ma. Ashok Singhal; an evening to remember our cultural heritage of swar (melodies and ragas); and definitely an evening to remember our pressing obligation to leave behind a legacy for the future generations.
The program began with deepa stuti and lamp lighting by Shri Tejji and Smt. Premji Tandon, and Shri. Ramji and Smt. Nishiji Nehra. First, shraddhanjali was offered to our local rishi, Arun ji Agarwal, who was remembered for his sincere contribution to the advancement of the Santana dharma. He would be missed much by his family and friends. Then, Smt. Ranjani Saigal offered shraddhanjali to two of our rishis who have inspired countless people in their own unique ways. H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswati brought the Vedantic philosophy to the masses putting it in simple practical terms, “We do not say there is only one God, we say there is ONLY God. Nothing is secular, all that is here is Ishvara, the Lord.” He also made it clear that Vedanta permeated our day-to-day life and every move. Ma. Ashok Singhal, an ardent devotee of Mother India, had one and only one mission in life, the uplifting of the mother, our Bharat, so She could again regain her full glory. Initially, he struggled as a freedom fighter and then later against the corrupt practices in the country borne of deep-rooted psychological damage inflicted by the British. He inspired all Hindus to become united and have pride in proclaiming themselves Hindu, to have pride in and learn from our invaluable spiritual texts.
Dr. Abhaya Asthana, President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), in his presentation vowed to carry on the work begun by our Mahapurushas, his first focus directed at preserving our Sanatana Dharma in America so the children can become practitioners and advocates of it. Secondly, his goal is to articulate Hindu American needs in order to fulfill them. Thirdly, his objective is to inspire the evolution and progression of American society with our way of life. With these lofty aims in mind, an initiative to begin a cultural and educational institute called Om Hindu Community Center (OMHCC) has taken place. Dr. Asthana explained that there are 3 million Hindus in America and we have built over 900 temples but there is no community center for taking care of the intergenerational needs of the community. There is a pressing need for taking care of everyone from babies to elders. A place to call home away from home with space for holding everything including day care, Balvihar, dance, art, music, kumon, and
SAT prep classes, ayurvedic, homeopathic, and health guidance clinics, marriage counselling, senior activities, festival celebrations, puja, sanskar ceremonies, satsang, parties, educational seminars, meetings, yoga and meditation, and an auditorium for holding programmed large events. It is surprising that this enormous need has gone unmet for such a long time despite the Indian diaspora being the wealthiest immigrant group in this country. Shri and Smt Tej Tandon have generously donated an 11 acre parcel of land on the banks of the Concord River along with seed money to start OMHCC. Clearing of site has begun and 1.3 million dollars have thus far been raised for completion of phase 1 construction, the ground floor, of a four story (24,000 sq. ft.) building. The full cost of the construction is estimated to be 6 million dollars.
There are many ways to donate. A person may donate their time and energy as a volunteer and/or donate the much needed funds, either in the memory of a loved one or in celebration of a birthday or anniversary, for building phase 2. All contributions for the building, which are tax-deductible, would be appreciated. An individual can contribute an engraved Brick ($5,000) which will be placed in the Main Lobby or sponsor an individual area of the building, that includes the Auditorium ($1M), Meditation Hall (500K), Dining Hall (400K), Kitchen (250K), Library (175K), Conference Rooms (150K), Elevator (100K), Stairwell (50K), Landscape (50K), Statue Trail (50K), Office (30K), Coat Room (25K), Statues (15K), Guest Rooms (15K), Outdoor Drinking Fountains, Tent, and Nature Trail (5K each) that could be named after the donor or in memory of a departed loved one.
Our emcee, Sanjay Kaul, then brought us an unforgettable evening of swar (melodies and ragas) from our precious cultural heritage. This celebration was possible due to two of the most famous and accomplished artists in the United States. We were honored to hear first Shri Mohan ji Wanchoo who began the program with Ram Dhun progressing to hits by Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar. The audience could not but begin dancing to his beautifully modulated voice. He also sang a duet with his lovely wife Kavita ji, who graced the event. The light songs were then followed by classical ragas by the world renowned singer, Anurag Harsh accompanied by Nitin Mitta & Rohan Prabhudesai. Shailesh Salgar provided the fine audio support. This was a rare occasion to hear Raga Bhupali and Todi including tarana. The entire hall vibrated as Anurag ji, ascended and descended expertly on various notes with audience clapping frequently. Even those attendees who normally fail to hear fine Indian classical music on a regular basis could not but appreciate the beautiful melodious voice and superb delivery of the ragas and clapped hands frequently at the expert rendition. All felt a certain upliftment as the chakras of individuals started vibrating, a natural consequence of hearing Indian ragas. This was indeed an evening to remember for its fine vocal music.
No event is complete without food and this was catered from Minerva restaurant. The appetizers with Indian tea in the beginning of the program and the dinner at the end was excellent and received well by all the guests.
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/