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Fwd: Hindu Prayer in US Senate Draws Protest   Message List  
Reply | Forward Message #10516 of 10517 |

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Prakasarao Velagapudi <[email protected]>
Date: Jul 12, 2007 6:49 PM
Subject: Hindu Prayer in US Senate Draws Protest
To: Prakashji Velagapudi <[email protected]>

Dera Friends:
    We thought you might be interested in this news item. A historical event took place in US Senate on July 12, 2007. Peaceful Prayer was disrupted by hardline Chistians who were arrested and charged with causing disruption of the Senate proceedings.
V. V. Prakasa Rao
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation
601-918-7111 M
601-856-4783 H
1. Hindu Prayer in U.S. Senate Disrupted


WASHINGTON, D.C. , July 12, 2007: (HPI note -- We present today a series of articles on the opening of the United States Senate with a Hindu prayer by Rajan Zed of Nevada. Leaders of various religions have delivered the Senate prayer, but this was the first by a Hindu. Astoundingly, it was interrupted by shouting Christian protesters from the Senate gallery, resulting in widespread news coverage to an event that might have otherwise gone little noticed.)

A Hindu clergyman made history Thursday by offering the Senate's morning prayer, but only after police officers removed three shouting protesters from the visitors' gallery. For a video of the disruption and prayer (English version of the Gayatri Mantra), click here (note the CNN video begins with a commercial).

Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, Nev., gave the brief prayer that opens each day's Senate session. As he stood at the chamber's podium in a bright orange and burgundy robe, two women and a man began shouting "this is an abomination" and other complaints from the gallery.

Police officers quickly arrested them and charged them disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. The male protester told an AP reporter, "We are Christians and patriots" before police handcuffed them and led them away.

For several days, the Mississippi-based American Family Association has urged its members to object to the prayer because Zed would be "seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god."

Zed, the first Hindu to offer the Senate prayer, began: "We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside th e heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds."

As the Senate prepared for another day of debate over the Iraq war, Zed closed with, "Peace, peace, peace be unto all."

Zed, who was born in India, was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Speaking in the chamber shortly after the prayer, Reid defended the choice and linked it to the war debate.

"If people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus," Reid said, "all they have to do is think of Gandhi," a man "who gave his life for peace."

"I think it speaks well of our country that someone representing the faith of about a billion people comes here and can speak in communication with our heavenly Father regarding peace," said Reid, a Mormon and sharp critic of President Bush's Iraq policies.

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the protest "shows the intolerance of many religious right activists. They say they want more religion in the public square, but it's clear they mean only their religion."

Capitol police identified the protesters as Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christan Renee Sugar. Their ages and hometowns were not available.

2. Hindu Prayer in Senate Draws Religious Protesters


WASHINGTON, D.C. , July 12, 2007: (HPI note: This Reuters report contains some additional information, given below in excerpts.)

Capitol police said two women and one man were arrested and charged with causing a disruption in the public gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada, began his prayer.

They shouted "No Lord but Jesus Christ" and "There's only one true God," and used the term "abomination."

US Senate opens with Hindu prayer

July 12, 2007

History was created in the United States Senate at 9.30 am on Thursday, when Rajan Zed, the Hindu chaplain of the Indian Association of Northern Nevada, opened the Senate with a Hindu prayer.

This is the first such instance since the formation of the powerful Upper House in 1979.

A few Christian fundamentalists protested and began screaming, while holding the Bible aloft, "Lord Jesus, protect us from this abomination."

Officers from the Sergeant of Arms' office ejected one after the other (three were taken away) from the Senate gallery which looks down on the floor.

The  president pro-tem of the Senate, had to beat the podium with his gavel thrice. He requested Zed to halt his prayer just as he was about to begin, and called on the Sergeant of Arms to restore order in the Senate Chamber.

A Senate aide said these people probably had gotten visitor's passes to the Senate gallery through a Senator's office and noted that "disrupting a Senate in the chamber is a criminal offense and they can be arrested."

A few minutes later, Zed delivered his prayer which took no more than 90 seconds, which as per the instructions from the Office of the Chaplain of the Senate had to be delivered exclusively and entirely in English.

 "Let us pray," Zed began, "We meditate on the transcendental glory of the deity supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of heaven. May he stimulate and illuminate our minds.

"Lead us from the unreal to real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality. May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we work together with great vigor. May our study be enlightening. May no obstacle arise between us."

Seeking the blessings of god on behalf of and for the Senators, Zed declared, "May the Senators strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world, performing their duties with the welfare of others always in mind. Because by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. May they work carefully and wisely, guided by compassion, and without though for themselves."

"United your resolve, united your hearts, may your spirits be at one, that you may long dwell in unity and concord!" he added, and ended with, "Peace, peace, peace be unto all."

Before stepping away from the podium, Zed also said, "And, Lord, we ask you to comfort the family of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson," wife of the former and late President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who died at age 94.

Speaking to rediff.com immediately after he delivered the prayer, Zed said, "I sprinkled some Ganga jal -- the water from the Holy Ganges [ Images] on the podium before the prayer."

He also bemoaned the protests, saying, "I believe dialogue is always better," and profusely thanked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who had arranged for him to deliver the first Hindu prayer in the US Senate.

"The Senator was a very courageous man for standing up and giving us this opportunity. He was very courageous and I appreciate what he did very much," he said.

A few minutes later, when this correspondent accompanied Zed, his wife, Shipa, and four of his friends from Virginia, who were the only Indians present in the gallery to witness this historic chapter in the US Senate, to Reid's office, Zed told Reid, "We appreciate your courage, you stood up to them. We appreciate it very much that you went through with it."

Reid, seeing the conspicuous tilak of Zed's forehead, asked him what it was about, and the latter, who was wearing the saffron robes synonymous with Hindu priests, explained that it is a sign of auspiciousness.

Earlier, before the prayer, Reid told rediff.com, "There has been some criticism that I arranged this, which is true."

Asked if these protests were from other denominations, Reid said, "From other people," and noted, "The Senate Chaplain's office got hundreds of people protesting, by phone, mail and e-mail for allowing this."

But he asserted: "It shows what America is all about. Having real big arms to put around everyone and this is a religion that has been around a long time, which has brought peace and contentment to people over the generations and we are happy to have a (Hindu) prayer."

Before the prayer, Zed told rediff.com he felt honored, humbled and thrilled that he was creating history. "It's a great honor for me, my family, for the great state of Nevada, for all Americans and for us all Hindus. It's is indeed a historic occasion for all of us Indian-Americans also."

Zed said the fact that a Hindu prayer was opening the US Senate for the first time, was a clear indication that there is an acceptance of Hinduism as part of America today. "Slowly we are becoming mainstream. Yoga is very popular already, and through yoga in America, Hinduism is becoming more known. I teach Hinduism classes also in the community colleges (in Reno, Nevada) and I get a very favorable reception."

Each day, when the Senate is in session, the Senate chaplain delivers the opening prayer, before the Senate gets down to the business of lawmaking, which it shares with the US House of Representatives, but occasionally, on the urging of one community of another, particularly those from minority religions, guest chaplains are invited from across the country to deliver a prayer from their faith.

Zed, an alumnus of the Panjab University, from where he received his bachelor of journalism degree, is also the public relations office of the India Association of North Nevada.

After coming to the US for higher studies, Zed received his master of science and master of business administration from San Jose State University in California and the University of Nevada, Reno, respectively.

Text: Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:07 am

"Raghu Rao" <[email protected]>
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... From: Prakasarao Velagapudi <[email protected]> Date: Jul 12, 2007 6:49 PM Subject: Hindu Prayer in US Senate Draws Protest To: Prakashji Velagapudi...
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