Prayer Meeting at India House

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Nepal Earth quake, Houston meeting speakers

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: With the soothing strains of Bhagwan meri naeya us paar laga dena sung by Hemal Bhavsar and Hasmukh Joshi, about 200 people prayed together for the departed souls and families in Nepal devastated by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. The Shradhhanjali sabha was convened at a short notice of just 24 hours.

Organized by Sewa International and supported by the Nepali Association of Houston, Patanjali Yogpeeth, USA, Hindus of Greater Houston, Indo American Charity Foundation, India House and India Culture Center, the event was held at India House on April 27.
Emcees Achalesh Amar and Kavita Tewari invited the heads of several organizations present to speak to the gathering starting with Ramesh Shah of Ekal Vidyalaya. Describing this as a “human tragedy,” he said that Ekal has 1200 schools in Nepal and about 250 villages where these schools are have been hard hit and cannot be contacted.

Two short videos depicted the horrors of the earthquake. According to emcee Kavita, the tragedy is worsened with only a few rescue workers on the ground.

The President of the Nepali Association of Houston, Jyoti Ghimirey, Secretary Vishnu Nepal and Youth Coordinator Swasti also appealed to the gathering to donate funds to help with relief efforts. “India has always treated Nepal like a younger brother,” said the President. The organization has raised about $26,000 and their goal is to reach $200,000. Those who would like to donate can go to their website

As fate would have it, Baba Ramdev of Patanjali Yogpeeth was in Nepal to inaugurate an Ayurveda College and hospital and narrowly escaped death. He believed his life had been spared so he can render selfless service and immediately converted the hospital into a shelter for orphans. Along with him, 30,000 Patanjali volunteers are on the ground in Nepal helping with relief measures. Shekhar Agrawal, who heads Patanjali USA stressed that “the opportunity to serve is a blessing” and appealed to the gathering to help Nepal rebuild itself. Patanjali is also organizing a donation drive and one can go to their website if one would like to donate.

USAID Director for Texas, Marty McVey, who is overseeing US assistance to Nepal stated that 2 more aid flights with 130 US personnel have been dispatched to help with rescue operations. He also plans to visit Nepal as soon as it is safe.

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Prayer meeting for Nepal earthquake at India house

Described by the emcee as “a very generous soul,” one of Houston’s leading physicians and a well-known member of the Indo American community, Dr. Virendra Mathur stated that ”we may not have the skills to figure out how and when these natural disasters happen but we can help those who are facing pain and difficulty.”

Past President of HGH, Sharad Amin also observed that “if we work together, we can overcome any calamity” while Kaushik Chatterjee from Sewa International outlined the relief measures carried out by the organization and appealed to the gathering to go to if they would like to help.

Rehabilitation agencies have estimated that rebuilding the earthquake hit areas of Nepal will take $5 billion at a minimum. Sewa International has set a target of raising a minimum of $1 million for this cause. So far, they have collected $100,000 through online and checks with pledges of an additional $200,000.

Yogina Patel from the Gujarati Samaj also expressed their commitment to the cause while Past President of the Indo American Charity Foundation, Ramesh Cherivirala along with Alpa Shah presented a check to Sewa representative Kaushik Chatterjee for their donation drive and promised to work for more funds.