Friday, December 9, 2011
This year, I called the co-ordinator of AECH who gave the list of the local churches so that I can set up the time and day early on for the volunteers of HASC to efficiently carry on the Annadhaanam Seva I went ahead and reserved all of the Sunday Suppers for the HASC members. Right about this time, Saajan Bhakta, who was the founder for an organization called POVSOLV, contacted me and was very interested with his group to feed the homeless once a month on a weekday. So I have solicited among the community members to continue the Annadhaanam Seva on the reserved Sundays.
The supper consisted of a nutritionally balanced meal; lentil or dhal soup, bread rolls, pasta , salad and dressing, bananas, chocolate chip cookies, milk or decaffeinated coffee and lemonade.It could be as simple as a peanut butter sandwich , salads, cookies etc., Thus, the first Annadhaanaam for this year commenced on November 2, 2011 by the PovSolve group, continued by groups from the community.
A humble couple in Drs. Joshi, who are physicians wanted to serve supper with their children and parents on the Thanksgiving weekend. Things were looking up and going great!
There was however, a weekend before Thanksgiving on Nov 20th when everyone was busy and could not commit to the date of Nov 20th for feeding. In order that this does not happen again, II contacted Lakshmi Ravi, the co-ordinator among the families who are working for the Infosys company in Wichita ; she has nearly 40 committed volunteers to effectively continue the Annadhaanam. Things picked up once again.( woo hoo!)
If you feed the person, then you feed the soul. That is my belief when it comes to Annadhaanam, or the art of giving food to the poor and the homeless.
I wanted to cultivate Annadhaanam Seva as I noticed a lot of homeless people within my home town of Wichita, Kansas. More than one hundred of these people had no home, food or shelter, and were out in the cold nights on the streets. My journey to help these people started with me investigating the Kansas food bank, who directed me to members of AECH( Advocacy Group for Ending Chronic Homelessness). During my investigation, I found a small conglomeration of the city’s churches which have a temporary housing program from November to March, to give them a hot supper and a warm bed for the night. The homeless rested there and were forced to go out after breakfast into the streets. The breakfast and dinner programs were as a result of the church soliciting sponsorship from the community. The people that usually supported this kind of sponsorship were church members themselves .I am hoping and praying that HASC will have the infrastructure one day to care for humanity , provide food and shelter to the needy and less fortunate.
Inspired about 13 years ago by my eight year old daughter then, our family started this Annadhaanam Seva once a month at the Interfaith Inn in Wichita, KS. We usually fed 35 to 40 people, who lived in the Inn temporarily till they find a home of their own. A few families in the community joined us from time to time. Serving Wichita as an Americorps VISTA for a year helped me to place a consistent feeding program in place, under the auspices of the Utsav Seva.
Going back to the members of the small Indian community in Wichita, I found out that the temples did not have the infrastructure to host the homeless. Also, the volunteer base was really small. About some time into my research, I came across the Kabir Bhakta group, who were primarily from the state of Gujarat in India and their womens’ wing called Mahila Mandal were very compassionate. They are an extremely united group that owned a lot of the hotels, motels and laundromats within the area. Last year they helped me with feeding the people at the Overflow Shelter”. I solicited also with another non-profit organization called PovSolve, started by a young Hindu high school junior, Saajan Bhakta.
Written by Ramya Ramachandran
Edited by Rema Venkatasubban
Monday, November 28, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Deploring Anti-Hindu Remarks of Kentucky’s Gubernatorial candidate with Call to Action: Let us Build Bridges of Understanding in Kentucky and around the World
We, Hindus, are the people of illustrious heritage of yoga, Meditation, of highest concepts of spirituality, of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence, of Ayurveda (Holistic health concepts) and so much more. As documented in Phil Goldberg's American Veda, Hindu thought has contributed greatly to American spirituality. Today yoga is ubiquitous and accepted everywhere and it is as much a Hindu spiritual practice as putting a tilak for ground breaking ceremony. Its roots are undeniably in Vedic Hindu tradition. Let us take control of our own narrative and bring the positives to the forefront. We are proud to be Hindus. Let us work collaboratively with people of all faiths to serve all and solve the problems of the country.
Hindu America Seva Charities is appalled at the lack of acceptance and tolerance displayed by the Republican candidate, David Williams, when he criticized Governor Beshear for taking part in a Hindu groundbreaking ceremony of an India based company that is undertaking the construction of a $180 million manufacturing plant and promises 250 jobs in Kentucky. Williams, a state senator, criticized the Governor’s involvement in the ceremony as an act of “idol worshipping” which is against his faith.
It is deplorable that Hindus are seen by some fundamentalist leaders as "idol" worshipers, with a strong negative connotation. Therefore, it’s important to explain what is Murti puja, a core element of Hinduism. Hindus believe that God is transcendent (beyond every thing) as well as immanent (in every thing), ie: omni-present, every where, in everyone and everything, including all humans, animals, birds, trees, the oceans, and so forth. Murtis were created to help humans focus their minds on something tangible. The purpose of murti puja is to facilitate meditation and to promote harmony and brotherhood. It is impossible for humans to conceive of the transcendent God. Whatever human mind could imagine about God, would be deficient and flawed. Therefore, Hindu sages approved of images, expecting that it will help the common person to connect to God. Our scriptures say that Murti worship would be meaningless if the worshipper does not think of the transcendent God (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.29).
The xenophobia that many Hindus have faced, and still face, is coming to the surface in political forums. Hindus must deal with it publicly and strengthen the Hindu American identity on many fronts - through education, through interfaith collaboration, and through seva (volunteer community service).
Seva is our community social responsibility which enables (and ennobles) our youth and adults to put their faith in action and be better understood - people to people. Hindu American Seva Charities is trying to do just that and help our youth not only feel comfortable in their faith skins, but be proud of their heritage. As one example: In Wichita, Kansas, after 9/11 some Hindu kids were abused and called Osama's kids. The Hindu temple is afraid to put a sign outside. Lately, on HASC's initiative, Rema Venkatsubban, working as AmeriCorps VISTA, engaged many youth and adults to build interfaith bridges on many fronts, feed the homeless, and bring the issues to the political decision makers to help diffuse the "otherness".
Let our call to action be for building communities, for becoming the problem solvers of critical problems facing our country and create more jobs like those in Elizabethtown. Let us turn the narrative to show the world the true Hindu spirit of ahimsa and seva!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
UtsavSeva is providing a roadmap for Hindu social justice and nation building with our Youth in the forefront.
Now, we need your support to sustain this effort.
HASC is working to augment the Community Social Responsibility effort by building a service oriented educational and networking platform to connect the community to America through seva. HASC is supporting development of "Seva Centers" as a lead example of social innovation. HASC will serve as a resource, repository and clearing house of relevant information. Read our Mission
HASC works with Hindu and Dharmic Americans to make service a defining part of Hindu American life and culture (UtsavSeva) and to strengthen immigrant civic engagement and interfaith collaboration. To empower the community and address concerns at the local and national levels, HASC is documenting service activities to develop reports, showcase dharmic seva, promote and support development of seva centers, liaise with government and interfaith groups to communicate the community's needs and enhance seva social responsibility. More...
Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is a progressive organization whose mission is to advance seva or community service and promote pluralism, interfaith dialogue, social justice, civic engagement and sustainable activism to ignite grassroots social change and build healthy communities. Seva is an integral part of Hindu and Dharmic traditions and sadhana (practice) and is transforming. To achieve its mission, HASC seeks to mobilize community resources in the United States, bridge the gap between the U.S. agencies and Hindu institutions to connect with America. HASC is a non-religious NGO formed in 2009 under the guidance of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is a service partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The Faith Glass Ceiling has cracked in America and is resounding around the globe!
We urge you to support and send your tax deductible check or pay online through paypal at www.hinduamericanseva.org