Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, New England Chapter Celebrated Vijaya Dashami
The New England chapter of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) celebrated Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra festival in Shrewsbury MA on October 28, 2018. The Hindu Festival of Vijaya Dashami also marks the 29th anniversary of the founding day of the HSS in the United States.
As a part of this annual celebration, each year the HSS volunteers showcase various activities that children, young adults, youths and family members have learned during a weekly congregation known as "shakha" (branch).
The event began on time by hoisting of the saffron flag while a band (or "Ghosh") played in the background. HSS women performed Vyayam Yoga, followed by another coordinated activity by men with lezim or yogchap. Young children presented a song followed by yoga asanas presentations by slightly older children. Group of young adult boys and girls later demonstrated their defense skills while using Dand or a thick cylindrical wooden shaft in smooth, graceful movements. The well-coordinated activities were presented by groups, and not by individuals, true to the mission of the organization that focuses on bringing the Hindu community together.
After the demonstrations, the Chief Guest Smt. Dhanashree Ramachandran and visiting HSS speaker Shri. Keshav Dev were introduced to the audience. Smt. Dhanashree Ramachandran is a Director of Community Advancement and Public Relations for the Art of Living Massachusetts, the Boston-based branch of the Art of Living Foundation. She is also a founder and CEO of meditation startup Nous Labs.
Smt. Ramachandran shared her thoughts about the Vijaya Dashami festival and about Hindu history, society, and the image of Hindu traditions as well as philosophy in the western world. In her well-received speech, she stressed how several of the Hindu traditions and rituals stem from the knowledge of the natural world and medicinal values of plants. She further discussed the contemporary media’s treatment of topics important to the Hindu community. She presented examples of distortion of information about India and Hindu traditions including the practice of Yoga. She stressed the importance of providing society at large with authentic contemporary sources of information. In this context, she shared information about the role of the recently founded "Hindu Media Bureau" that is working to address the gaps by providing fact-based narratives about Hindu philosophy, religion, and society.
Dhanashree Ji's speech was followed by the speech by Shri. Keshav Ji. Shri. Keshav ji is a resident of New Jersey and is an active member of the HSS and has held several key positions in the organization. In his speech, Keshav Ji further elaborated on the importance of the Vijaya Dashami festival and community organizations. He stressed the importance of a thoughtful, coordinated and disciplined effort to create an effective community that benefits the entire society. Keshav ji lauded such well-organized efforts by organizations such as the Art of Living, Isha Foundation and discussed the key role that HSS plays in shaping the individual and community. He reminded that the Hindu tradition believes that on the day of the Vijaya Dashami, the revered Prince Rama killed the demon King Ravana representing the victory of good over evil. He encouraged everyone to use this day as a reminder to eliminate our own vices, and embrace virtues.
A prayer was offered in conclusion of the event that summarizes the HSS mission to bring the individuals to work together and spread peace and prosperity in the world.
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