Hartford City Council in USA opened with Hindu prayer for first time in 227 years

City Council of Hartford, capital city of Connecticut (USA), reverberated with Sanskrit mantras from ancient Hindu scriptures on June 13,2011, evening, which was reportedly for the first time since it was incorporated in 1784.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered invocation from Sanskrit scriptures before Hartford City Council on this day. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayer.Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita(Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work. Om was followed by Gayatri Mantra, the most sacred mantra in Hinduism.

Hartford City Council members, City employees, and public stood quietly in prayer mode with heads bowed down during the prayer. Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Rajan Zed sprinkled few drops of sacred water from river Ganga in India around the podium before the prayer. He presented copies of Bhagavad-Gita to Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and City Council President rJo Winch before the prayer.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed said “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he then translated as “Lead me from the unreal to the Real, Lead me from darkness to Light, and Lead me from death to Immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged Councilmembers to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

“This is a day of honor for the community when wisdom from ancient Sanskrit scriptures is being read in this great hall of democracy of great city of Hartford”, Rajan Zed said before the invocation when Winch introduced him.

Zed is one of the panelists for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post. He has been awarded “World Interfaith Leader Award” and is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to New York headquartered Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, Director of Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

Hartford, named in 1637, houses USA’s oldest public park (Bushnell Park), oldest continuously published newspaper (Hartford Courant), oldest public art museum (The Wadsworth Atheneum); besides Trinity College and Hartford Seminary. Notable people associated with it include dictionary author Noah Webster, inventor Sam Colt, financier J.P. Morgan, author Mark Twain, broadcasters Howard Stern and Bill O’Reilly, actress Katharine Hepburn, musician Mike Carabello, basketball player Marcus Camby, etc. David B. Panagore is Chief Operating Officer of Hartford, which is nicknamed as “Insurance Capital of the World”.

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