HGH’s First Advisory Board Meeting


Hindus of Greater Houston’s first advisory board meeting with executive committee at Chinmaya Mission.
From left: Sarvabhavana Das (representing Dr Hansa Medley), Dev Mahajan, Partha Krishnaswami, Jugal Malani, Vijay Pallod, Sanyasin Santhalinaswami, Satguru Bodhinatha, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty, Vinod Mantri, Dr. Venugopal Menon, Sharad Amin, Richa Dixit, PC Sharma and Sanjay Jajoo.
Photo: Paresh Shah

HOUSTON: An organization that can speak for Hindus in the greater Houston area in one strong voice is emerging. The board of advisors of Hindus of Greater Houston at its first meeting held at Chinmaya Mission Houston recently laid the foundation for the umbrella organization that will be an authentic and credible force, protecting the cause and interests of all Hindus.

Dev Mahajan, chairman of the board of advisors, after the inaugural meeting, addressed the invited representatives from about 60 Hindu religious, social and cultural organizations in the Houston area.

The umbrella organization will unite all the Hindu organizations and each organization will nominate one permanent representative to the team, Mahajan said.

The representative should have a passion for the Hindu cause and feel a part of the big, formal structure, he said.

“We have flowers in different parts of Houston. We have to assemble, a nice garland,” Mahajan said, recalling the message of Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty of Chinmaya Mission, given earlier when the board of advisors was constituted.

Each temple or organization is a blossoming flower, with its own beauty and fragrance. In becoming a part of the Hindu organization, the flower need not shed its beauty or lose its fragrance. While maintaining its own tradition and individuality, the organizations would join hands in support of a general cause that impacts all Hindus. The issues will not and should not pertain to an individual or an individual group, Mahajan said.

The new organization will establish various operational committees devoted to a specific function like youth affairs, festivals, interfaith affairs or community issues.

Mahajan cited a recent bullying incident in which a Hindu family was affected in a local school district. Hindus of Greater Houston authorized Mahajan and other volunteers to take up the cause and fight for the protection of the family.

Mahajan said a majority of organizations and their representatives have felt the need for a strong, umbrella organization to represent the Hindu community.

The Jewish community has several different organizations in the U.S., but they have one umbrella organization to represent the Jews. Hindus should have a similar organization and hopefully, Hindu groups all over the U.S. could adopt the Houston group as a model and adopt it.

Though the board of advisors functions in an advisory role, the advisors bring credibility to the group as they each represent some of the major Hindu organizations in Houston.

Mahajan said the board will shortly formalize the mission and objectives of the new organization.

The board of advisors  comprises of Dev Mahajan  ( Arya Samaj of Greater Houston), Gaurang Nanavaty  (Chinmaya Mission), Ramesh Bhutada   (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) , Prabhat  C . Sharma ( Hindu Worship Society), Jugal Malani (India House), Dr. Hansa Medley (Hare Krishna Temple) and Dr. Venugopal Menon (Shri Meenakshi Temple).

 Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, head of the Kauai Hindu Monastery in Hawaii and publisher of Hinduism Today, was the guest speaker.

“My guru was keen on the concept of Hindu solidarity. The magazine was started for making Hindus work together. Its motto is solidarity through diversity.”

 The magazine does not promote the Hawaii ashram or temple, but promoted Hindus globally. Hinduism today empowers the youth and its efforts devoted to educating the youth.

Hindus should come together with what is in common and show that we are force to reckon with when needed, he said.

Bodinatha Swami applauded the efforts of Hindus in Houston in solidarity.

“The Hindus in Houston are fortunate to have over so many organizations conducting worship and teaching programs in the greater Houston area. Normally, all that is needed is for these organizations to perform well their respective missions. However, on occasion there is a need for a united Hindu front, for all Hindus to come together to address a pressing issue such as mistreatment of Hindu students, newspaper articles grossly misrepresenting Hinduism or a natural disaster where Hindus want to work together to create a joint response. The Hindus of Greater Houston, as an umbrella organization, is ideally situated to do just that. We were pleased to attend their recent membership meeting and see the diversity and large number of organizations committed to its mission,” Bodinatha Swami said.

“About  100,000 Hindus, with 18 established temples have established their presence and their significance in Houston.  It is only prudent and proper that we create a unified voice to be heard, that our commitments and concerns are understood as an important expression of the mainstream.  With that motivating philosophy, the organization of the Hindus of Greater Houston along with its Advisory Board with representatives of all the Hindu establishments in the area is created,” according to the new advisory board member Venugopal Menon.

Sharad Amin, president of Hindus of Greater Houston said, “A historic meeting of Board of Advisors of Hindus of Houston took place at Chinmaya Mission Houston hosted by Acharya Gaurangbhai and the  mission team. “I am confident that just like the first meeting of Hindu Leaders at Sandeepani Ashram in Bharat was called by Swami Chinmayananda ji in 1962, this will be also instrumental in bringing Hindus of Houston together to work in Harmony.”

Vidha Dixit, a high school senior, had this to say: “It was wonderful to see the camaraderie between so many Hindu leaders in our community. I was thrilled to learn about all of the upcoming Hindu events occurring throughout the Greater Houston area and I am very thankful to Hindus of Greater Houston for organizing this gathering. I strongly urge all members of the Houston Hindu community to attend events such as this in the future as it truly promotes unity and spirituality.”

“Hindus of Greater Houston has scheduled a banquet on July 13 where the Youth award will be presented to outstanding youth who have worked for the Hindu cause. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, the first Hindu to be elected to the Congress, will be the chief guest. All temples and organizations are expected to send their youth delegates in large numbers. This year, HGH’s goal is to unite young Hindu professionals in celebration of the 150the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand,” said Richa Dixit, coordinator for the Hindu Youth Award.