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Team Maruti Bikes For Dharma In Support Of Veterans Again

K. Arvind

मनोजवं मारुततुल्यवेगं जितेन्द्रियं बुद्धिमतां वरिष्ठ
manojavam maaruta tulya vegam jitendriyam buddhi mataam varishta

Swift as the mind and fast as the wind, master of senses
and most excellent in intellect and wisdom

(part of a Sanskrit hymn extolling and saluting Lord Maruti)


Team Maruti from Bharathi Vidyashram and the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire  rallied to “Bike for Dharma”, and generated over $2060 in the form of registration fees and donations, in support of the nation’s injured veterans, as they participated in the second “Honor Ride New Hampshire”, a bicycle ride around Nashua, NH on Saturday, June 4th, 2016.


About six hundred bicyclists of all ages, including veterans of the armed forces and their well-wishers, assembled at the Holman Stadium at 67 Amherst St, Nashua, waiting to be flagged off to begin the “Ride 2 Recovery”, a bicycle ride program that aims to save lives by restoring hope and purpose. Following band performances, a speech by New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, and singing of the national anthem, the eager bicycle enthusiasts pedaled away on their chosen 10 mile, 30 mile, or 50 mile routes around Nashua. The bicyclists couldn’t have asked for better weather that warm Saturday, and the ride was a memorable one for many!


Team Maruti had 17 bicyclists (about 3% of the rally participants) including volunteers and supporters of Bharathi Vidyashram and the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, and their friends. Most team members sported a specially produced Team T-Shirt for the event this year, featuring the Honor Ride logo on the left chest, a water color painting of a bicyclist in the center, a small color mascot featuring a flying Lord Maruti carrying a mountain full of healing herbs supporting the healing of the veterans is the goal of the ride) surrounded by "Bike for Dharma" and "Team Maruti" in big font. The bottom of the T-Shirt includes a popular Sanskrit hymn ( बुद्धिर्बलं यशोधैर्यं - “buddhir balam yasho dhairyam”) ”that asserts that dwelling on Lord Maruti, who is regarded as a personification of positive qualities such as intellect, strength, fame, courage, fearlessness, health and articulateness, leads to one acquiring those very qualities. A “Blessing of the Bikes” (vahana pooja) with a prayer for the well-being of all was held at the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire at 7:30 AM. It is interesting to know that there are other communities in which similar traditions seem to be present.

The bicycling experience of the team members spanned a range from the beginner or occasional rider, to the regular or experienced rider who has logged hundreds of miles. Some members actually rented their bicycles for the event. Based on their time constraints (the annual day celebration of Bharathi Vidyashram was scheduled for the same afternoon because of logistical constraints), and experience, the Marutis gradually separated into groups along the way, each group doing a distance that suited them. Satish Narayanan proved himself to be a balavaan (strong) Maruti by doing 50+ challenging miles on this very first attempt of his at a bicycling rally. This is indeed a commendable accomplishment, but the level of fitness and practice required for this should not be underestimated by anyone feeling inspired to try this for themselves. Seven members of the team (Seshadri Dwarakanath, Chris Friedberg, Mike Friedberg, Srinivas Gopalan, Ganesh Kaundinya, Pranav Kaundinya and Tom Perry) were the dhairyavaan (courageous) Marutis who did 30 miles, which took them through a route with several gradient challenges. Pranav Kaundinya, an elementary schooler from Bedford, who was accompanied by his father, was a proud member of this group of thirty milers. The nirbhaya (fearless) Marutis did 10 miles, which took them through a relatively flat route up to the first rest stop and back along the same route. The Nirbhaya Marutis were Suresh Annamalai,  K. Arvind, Meghana Arvind, Srinivas Bodapati, Durgaprasad Chaudhari, Veeramani Ranganathan, Prem Rao, Pranai Rao and Raidu Rayasam. Many members of this group were limited in their distance by time and other constraints. Pranai Rao of this group is a proud elementary schooler who joined his dad Prem Rao to do this fun challenge! For Meghana Arvind, doing these 10 miles was an opportunity to prove to herself that she can rise over adversity – this was her first ride after a fracture from falling from her bicycle late last year. Being able to summon the courage to persevere after going through a painful process of recovery is something to feel proud about.

The riders were greeted at the finish line and honored with “Honor Ridemedals by Ride 2 Recovery. The Honor Ride was covered in the Nashua Telegraph. Pictures from the event may be viewed at the following links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.


The Honor Ride in Nashua, NH on June 4th, 2016, in honor of Sgt. Jack Nash, a Vietnam veteran and bike industry legend, gave bicyclists an opportunity to ride with healing heroes and enlisted military on a non-competitive, fun ride. It provided an opportunity for members of the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire community and their friends to show camaraderie, support, and love for and solidarity with their brethren of the Hindu faith as well as other faiths serving in or retired from the Armed Forces, true to the Hindu dictum that the whole world is one family (“vasudhaiva kutumbakam” – वसुधैव कुटुंबकम्), and in line with “E Pluribus Unum”, the motto on the seal of the United States. Members of Team Maruti, who participated with an attitude of selfless service, raised over $2065 in support of the cause of healing veterans. Registration fees cover event-related expenses and help create awareness about the need for veteran services. Additional contributions raised go directly to supporting veteran rehabilitation programs. The additional contributions from Team Maruti amounted to $805, which has placed it among the top fund raising teams in the ride.

 In addition to tangible rewards like medals, T-shirts, and calories burnt, the “Bike for Dharma” riders of Team Maruti felt blessed with the unmatchable gift of the joy of accomplishment, and the satisfaction of having supported the healing of heroes, who have sacrificed much in order to uphold their Dharma of protecting the high ideals that this nation stands for. Team “Maruti” was named after Lord Hanuman, who symbolizes not only speed and strength, but also healing. In the Ramayana, Lord Hanuman lifted and brought a mountain bearing the healing herb Sanjeevani to revive Sri Lakshmana who was fighting with Sri Rama to uphold Dharma. Here is an interesting factoid: a statuette of Lord Hanuman is one of the gifts received from people that President Obama carries in his pockets!


Bharati Vidyashram, the cultural arm of the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, in conjunction with the Temple, has also been involved in various other service activities to benefit the community. On Sunday, May 1st 2016, a team of over 19 volunteers lead by Komala Gopalan did Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger around Boston for the second year in a row. The team raised close to $2000, almost doubling what they raised in last year’s Walk. The proceeds benefit Project Bread’s mission of ending hunger in the state. The team included both adults and children who enthusiastically walked 10 miles around beautiful Boston in support of the hungry and the poor. The children included Ananya, Anirudh, Arvind, Harish, Hiranmayi, Maitreyi, Manaswini, Nitin, Vidhatri, and Vaishnavi. Pictures from the walk shot by Srini Gopalan may be viewed at the following link: https://goo.gl/photos/qNBN1fffVdUuatew9

அற்றார் அழிபசி தீர்த்தல் அஃதொருவன்
பெற்றான் பொருள்வைப் புழி

The true wealth that one accumulates in life
is the merit earned by feeding the poor

(a couplet from Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural  - an ancient Tamil moral treatise)

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