Billboards On Houston Skyline Celebrate Hinduism

Houston: New billboards celebrating Hinduism have popped up on major highways of Houston since mid-October.

The occasion was to coincide with the Hindu Heritage Month in October marked by Hindu festivals and Diwali, the festival of lights, this week.

The billboards were the brainchild of two Hindu women, Dr. Kusum Vyas of Living Planet Foundation and Dr. Veena Ambardar, Senior Engineering Specialist/ Scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (retired) who conceived and executed the project with the help of a team of volunteers and donors.

Here is the story behind the billboards in the words of Vyas and Ambardar:

Both Dr. Vyas and Dr. Ambardar, were so agog with the sentiments, emotions and excitement after “Hindu Heritage Month” concept was sweeping across the whole of America during October, the ladies wanted to do “Elan” at a much higher level of Hinduism – at OM level so that it reverberates with the whole universe.

“From the onset, we were firm in or conviction that the billboards were not about any individuals or organization. This life is not about us. It is not even about other people. There is a higher calling. A higher focus,” said Dr. Vyas.

“For us, the focus was to share positive vibes and energy of Sanatan Dharma – the foundation of Hinduism, with the world around us.”

“OM is perpetually green till eternity and stands tall, way after the Hindu Heritage Month is over in October,” said Dr. Ambardar.

“OM can produce powerful and positive vibrations which allows you to feel the whole universe and reverberates in the universe till the end of time. It is way above any recognition given by America or world to Hinduism- it goes far above the atmospheric levels of Earth into the deepest orbit of the universe.”

“We are passionate about Hinduism and believe, when projected properly, Hinduism with its eternal message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam – The World is a Family – can unite humanity, prevent wars and alleviate suffering in the world,” said Dr. Ambardar.

“The project was made possible by donations from supporters and personal funds. We are very thankful to all those who supported us as none of our efforts would be possible without their help.”

Several Billboard companies were interviewed, Clear Channel, a leading billboard company stood out and soon was confirmed for the job.

The duo selected a prime spot with over 850,000 weekly impressions on I-45, known to Houston residents as the Gulf Freeway. It connects downtown Houston, NASA and Galveston over the Galveston Causeway to the Gulf of Mexico.

During the negotiations, Clear Channel offered to install a second billboard at a rate the two ladies could not refuse. Hence, another plum spot at I-69 Southwest Freeway with over 800,000 impressions was quickly confirmed for the second billboard to be installed on October 27th.

Though the initial design concept of OM was created for the I-45 South by Dr. Vyas, after few iterations, it was finalized with addition of the words “Celebrate Hinduism” and “Pure Unconditional Love for All Living Creatures,” a quotation from Rig Veda.

“Our main aim was to create a billboard that was forward-thinking and engaging, we designed a billboard that is visually interconnected to the ethos of Hinduism and close proximity of Houston, also known as Space City, to NASA and Space Exploration, we wanted to rise to the level of OM so that it reverberates with the concept of space and the universe,” said Dr. Kusum Vyas,

“Our design focuses on making the billboard feel warm and emanate the true essence of the sacred OM by maximizing daylight, augmented with an atypical use of appropriate colors, bringing warmth and peaceful vibrations to everyone’s experience, from drivers on the freeway to passengers in private vehicles.

“It is a turning point in the ethnic cultural history of America where a tiny segment of society’s 4-6 million Hindus/Indian-Americans are bringing via their culture and religion of peace, unity and equality: Hinduism to America within ways, never before seen on US soil,” said Dr. Ambardar.

Being so close to the annual festival of Diwali, for the second billboard, Dr. Vyas focused on illuminating the entire world, from a billboard at three hundred feet high, conveying to Americans the essence of one of the richest festivals of Eastern Hemisphere: Diwali – the Festival of Lights. After adding the words, Celebrate Hinduism, Earth’s Oldest Surviving Civilization” this billboard featuring multiple “Diyas – Earthen Lamps” was perfected and brought to fruition on October 27th.

“The world-wide response to the billboards has been astonishing with several callers inquiring how such billboards could be replicated in their cities,” said Dr. Vyas.

Reacting to the billboards, Mahima Aggarwal, Young Hindus of Greater Houston Director, said, “As a high school student, I feel like Hinduism is an important part of my culture at school and I am always happy to share my experiences with others. When I saw the billboards, I got really excited, and felt like my religion and culture were finally being seen by other people in my community.”

Anjali Aggarwal, an intern with Hindus of Greater Houston, said, “As a youth, it was rare to see Hinduism get the recognition it deserves in western society. However, after seeing these two billboards, I feel as if the beauty of Sanatan Dharam, and the contributions it has made to society are finally being seen by others as well.”

Hindus of Greater Houston past Presiden Giirish Naik said, I am delighted to see all the positive vibrations these billboards have created not only in Houston but across the nation and beyond. The two billboards certainly bring to light the significance of Hinduism and the beauty of Diwali.”

“A new era arrived on October 11th, when Houstonians woke up to a sight never before seen in the city. The first-ever billboards reverberating positive vibes about spiritual Hinduism across Greater Houston has created an awe-inspiring ambience for the fourth most populous city in the nation and home to NASA, “ said Dr. Kusum Vyas. “That begs the question. Are these the first-ever Hinduism billboards in North America?”