Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ShaktiSeva: Honoring Feminine Strength and Divinity

ShaktiSeva: Honoring Feminine Strength and Divinity
Hindu tradition and American expression lead to innovative community service

September 25, 2011, Washington, D.C.  While celebrating the Festival of Navratri, Hindu American Seva Charities encourages all to honor the feminine strength.  Navratri, the nine nights to honor the Goddess, starts from September 28 so the theme for September – October is ShaktiSeva: community service bringing to the forefront the Feminine Principles, and the feminine energy within oneself.

There are numerous ways in which the strength of the woman can be highlighted by individuals, families and communities.  HASC encourages women to use October as a time to reflect and engage with spirit, however that is understood by them, through life-enrichment activities. Celebrate Navaratri in a way that is meaningful to you. Nine nights in a row, observe a ritual: it may be traditional, invented or a combination of the two. Click for more“how tos” at http://www.hinduamericanseva.org/UtsavSeva/shaktiseva/how-to-of-shaktiseva

Honor the Deities, Folk Heroes, Activists, Writers, Artists, Innovators, Politicians…..the women…who inspire YOU.
Have your friends over: share the profound and “silly” female bonding rituals of your heritage and youth - oil your hair, do henna, paint your nails.
Forgive a friend who wronged you.
Light your altar and chant the ancient prayers, then light a candle and relax.
Adorn yourself.
Invoke the values of Ashtanga Yoga. Do Yoga.
Go out for the evening.  
Arrange events: be inspired by or inspire others with your shakti stories.
Start a journal, a blog, share your stories.
Get moving: go for a walk, learn to ride a horse, take up a martial art,
Give yourself permission to create something.
Sign up for a class: make pottery; learn to play music, knit a scarf
Write a letter........... Call your sister, friend, mother.
Revive an old love: sing, dance, paint.
Help other women. 
Pledge to continue with ShaktiSeva on an ongoing basis, during the year, every month, every moment

While based on Hindu ideals, these efforts are inclusive. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and National Breast Cancer Awareness month. HASC is encouraging women and men of the Dharmic and Hindu-American community to engage in activities that raise funds and empower healthy communities, families and individuals.

HASC launched ShaktiSeva in 2010 and it has been featured in the Washington Post On Faith, and has stimulated a lively conversation. In Huffington post Shakti: Innate Quality of a Woman And, crossing lines of religion and culture and people are responding to the idea of ShaktiSeva - Navaratri, Shakti, and Politics, and Abuse Against African Women. In Wichita Kansas, as highlighted at the White House conference, ShaktiSeva has bridged cultural divides.  Every year, the Hindu Temple of Minnesota engages women congregants to gather and share stories. 

HASC members and partners are organizing local community woman-centered events that focus on and empower the principles ShaktiSeva  It continue to encourage the diverse women to dialog about their faith, culture and heritage. HASC’s unique program, UtsavSeva (Festivals of Seva) augments the spirit of Hindu festivals through seva events organized during this time and connects them with the cultural heritage.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Request for volunteers for floods in New Jersey

Namaste friends

As you know many people have been affected by the floods. Volunteers are needed to help with the cleanup and rebuilding effort. People of all faiths and no faiths are helping all those who have been affected. See a story here http://www.northjersey.com/news/129282843_Ridgewood_church_lends_a_hand.html

Hindu American Seva Charities has connected with Governor Christie's office and with FEMA. FEMA has just opened an office in Paterson, NJ and will be going door to door to see what the need is.

We are reaching out to our communities - The Indian Americans, people of eastern and western traditions, the yoga community, the Hindu Americans, the temple community, the professional community to mobilize volunteers to join hands and help our fellow brethren in the Garden State.... in the spirit of Raksha Bandhan. Please note your organization will be given FULL credit to your seva. We just want you to come and help!

We particularly request the temples to communicate to the devotees, to put up signs and ask them to volunteer. We ask the yoga community to provide free yoga as stress relief.

Please open your hearts, your resources, your time. Please join us, let us collaborate to serve.

Below is a request from Red Cross, one of our partners

Over the next 7 days we need volunteers to help with mass care. Can your organization put together a team of 10-15 (more or less are invited!) to help us out?

Details are being worked out as I speak, but we wanted to begin the process of reaching out to you to start getting volunteers. Please just respond with interest and I will get you details as they emerge.

The project includes the offloading of trucks; on-loading of Emergency Response Vehicles; driving out to various locations around NJ and caring for the people hit hardest by Hurricane Irene. The above steps are going to be mixed; but if an individual wants, we can make certain they are part of every step.

This will be ongoing over the next 7 days: work days and weekends included. We need teams for all times.

Your teams are more than welcome to wear your logos. Bring out your press and communications teams to document them (or we will send you pictures).

We can adhere to any schedule--2 hours; 8 hours; whatever you wish. Mass care is ongoing at all times.

If any of one is interested, send them to me! We need 100's.

Thank you so much for your time and help!
Karen Horn, Major Gifts Officer
Red Cross of Northern New Jersey

Please contact any of us - niki@hinduamericanseva.org, hanumancapital@gmail.com, seva@hinduamericanseva.org

Thank you for your prompt response.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The State of Formation 2011 Call for Contributors

The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue is working right now to identify top emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country to become Contributing Scholars for its State of Formation forum. They are kooking for folks who have graduated from college and are either pursuing graduate education or have begun to work in a sector that is related to their religious or ethical community

The journal does not have many Hindu American writers and have asked me to help with the nomination process. It would be wonderful to get a good number of Hindu nominees, and I was wondering if there emerging religious or ethical leaders who you might consider nominating or alerting to this opportunity. Those of all traditions would be welcome, provided they are less than three years out of a graduate program and highly involved in their religious or ethical community. The Call for Nominations can be found online here.

We would be grateful for any help in identifying these emerging leaders. Please send your nominations to seva@hinduamericanseva.org

9/11 Days of Service Preparation

As the country prepares for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, HASC is encouraging Dharmic and Hindu faith based organizations to participate in this National Day of Service. HASC is supporting participation in whatever way they want and requesting them to share their seva stories in as many ways as they can. To facilitate that effort, HASC has partnered with national organizations to promote community service and interfaith collaboration. Toolkits for faith and interfaith activities and sites to record your seva stories are listed below. We request you to let us know of your activities through HASC’s 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance form.

1. Seva and prayers in Hindu faith based places of worship

Many temples/ashrams/spiritual centers plan to conduct a variety of services this year. Services range from YogaSeva (Ashtanga Yoga's first yogic value is ahimsa (non-violence), annadaanam (feeding the poor), honoring the service men and women, (such as military, police and fireman), blood drives, health camps, BhumiSeva, etal.

• We request Hindu places of worship to invoke the value of *ahimsa (non-violence), through prayers and service as they celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi, the day of remembrance through prayer of the birth of Ganesha, symbolizing removal of obstacles. During this time Hindus take fresh spiritual resolve and pray for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all undertakings. (From a yoga perspective, Ganapati - leader of senses - is the deity of the 1st chakra - muladhara chakra. Obstacle removal starts with inner control).

• Let us also remember the other 9/11. Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha movement started on September 11. 1906; the launch of the Modern Non-Violent Resistance Movement which influenced America's Civil Right's Movement. And, on September 1893, Swami Vivekananda, the first Hindu Swami to come to America, gave his welcome address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. "Brothers and Sisters of America. It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. YouTube

2. Toolkits for Services
(i) Interfaith projects
HASC, along with many other faiths, has partnered with IFYC in promoting Interfaith Service projects across the country. Click here to download the kit and explore ways in which you can start your own project.

(ii) HASC is a national partner with National Day of Service and Remembrance and 9/11 Days of Service which is encouraging all to share their tribute to those who have served. Click here to record your tribute
National Day of Service and Remembrance "Beginning in 2002, family members who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and support groups began to seek a forward-looking tribute to honor the sacrifice of those who were lost and pay tribute to those who rose in service in response to the tragedy. By encouraging Americans to participate in service and remembrance activities on the 9/11 anniversary, family members wanted to provide a productive and respectful way to honor those who perished and rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after 9/11 to help meet the challenges we face today.
9/11 Days of Service: Because of their efforts to build support for this idea, September 11 has been designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance. The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance was established into law by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009, and is consistent with President Obama’s overall call to service, United We Serve." (Quoted from the Corporation of National and Community Service homepage)
(iii) Prepare New York - New York City, NY

Prepare New York is a coalition of New York based interfaith organizations, including Auburn Seminary and its Center for Multifaith Education, Interfaith Center of New York, Intersections International, Odyssey Networks, Quest, and Tanenbaum and its Religion and Diversity Education Program, who have joined together to help create a city-wide climate that promotes healing and reconciliation in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and 9/11 Community for Common Ground Initiative are serving as advisers to the multifaith organizations. HASC is an action partner in this project. Prepare New York is supporting conversations and producing educational materials for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. For more information, visit their website. In addition to lists of relevant books and resources, Prepare NY has created a video, "We the People."

(iv) SAALT’s Campaign

HASC support’s SAALT’s campaign An America for All of US. Click here for more information on the campaign.

Thank you for your participation


- *Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah –
Non-violence is the foremost duty to the extent that it supersedes all other duties

Mahatma Gandhi emphasized this statement and value repeatedly during India's struggle for independence

Explaining the value of ahimsa, Sri. Swami Dayananda Saraswati has this to say:“A human being, as any other living organism, has an instinct to survive. Being endowed with free thinking he/she can recognize the same instinct in all living beings; a value is born—ahimsa. Therefore, we have a statement from the Veda, ‘ahimsa paramo dharmah’ - not hurting is primary value. All other values like non-stealing, non-cheating and so on are derivatives of ahimsa because each one of them would hurt the victim. If people practice, with care, ahimsa, abiding peace and harmony will prevail in the world.”