California’s Shafter City Council honors its 1st Hindu invocation

Shafter City Council in California (USA) has honored its first Hindu invocation by issuing a “Certificate of Recognition” to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, who delivered it on September three.

It includes honoring “Zed’s initiatives to bring various religious communities together throughout world so that they can live in peace and mutual trust and enrich themselves through dialogue” and “Zed’s leadership roles in attempting to help the helpless”.

This Certificate, signed by Shafter Mayor Jon Johnston “on behalf of the entire City Council of the City of Shafter”, further mentions about Rajan Zed: “to honor his work to uplift about 15-million Roma (Gypsies) people of Europe who live in apartheid conditions by frequently voicing their maltreatment, issues and concerns; and urging other religious leaders to do so”.

City Councils of agriculture based Shafter and Wasco, both in Kern County (California, USA), started their day with Hindu prayer on September three, reportedly for the first time, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.

Zed delivered the invocations from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before these city councils. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Rajan Zed 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 prayers with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

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. Councilmembers, city employees and public were seen standing in prayer mode during these invocations.

Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Rajan Zed sprinkled few drops of water from river Ganga of India, considered holy by Hindus, around the podium before the prayers.

Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader, who besides taking up the cause of religion worldwide, has also raised huge voice against the apartheid faced by Roma in Europe. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, 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. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

City of Shafter is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Notable people associated with Shafter include Olympic medalist Larsen Jensen and athlete Anna Jelmini; while Gilbert Alvarado and John D. Guinn are Mayor Pro Tem and City Manager respectively.

City of Wasco, whose history goes back to 1897 and which is the headquarters of the Tejon Tribe, has “Grow with us” as its tagline while its mission includes “foster safety, unity, stability, quality of life”. According to a report, for every 100 females there were 160.3 males in Wasco and a scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” was filmed near it. Fred West Jr., Tilo Cortez Jr. and Dan Allen are Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and City Manager respectively.

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