Stockton City Council in USA to have its 1st Hindu opening prayer in 161 years

Stockton City Council in California (USA) will reportedly have its first Hindu invocation on December 13, which is more than 161 years after the city was incorporated.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the City Council. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will 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, will recite 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 plans to start and end the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he will then translate 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 proposes to urge Council members to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

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.

Starting as a muddy-street gold-rush camp and incorporated in 1850, Stockton is now known as “California’s Sunrise Seaport” and contains 49 historical landmarks and has received “All-America City” award and named “Best Tree City”.  Area around Stockton grows asparagus, cherries, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, grapes, etc., and produces prize-winning wines.  About 40 motion pictures have been filmed in Stockton including “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Steven Spielberg) and it is known for its annual Asparagus Festival, Haggin Museum, University of the Pacific, and USA’s first Sikh Gurdwara (established 1912). Forbes magazine recently named Stockton as “America’s Most Miserable City” and the same magazine in 2005 linked it with the worst crime rate in USA. Ann Johnston is the Mayor and Bob Deis is the City Manager of Stockton whose about 22% population is Asian. Prominent people associated with it include singer Chris Isaak, author Maxine Hong Kingston, and baseball player Dallas Braden.

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