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Analysis

Bharat’s Fest in the US : Celebrating Hindu Culture

Avatans Kumar

Avatans KumarOct 20, 2021, 10:46 AM IST

Bharat’s Fest in the US : Celebrating Hindu Culture
Hindu Heritage Month will showcase cultural programmes, fashion shows, webinars and multi-day conferences

The Hindu Heritage Month celebration this October will give the Hindu American community a chance to share stories fundamental to Hindu civilisation

 

The Hinduphobic ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva Conference’ (DGHC) was organised last month in the US by some of the most rabid anti-Hindu South Asia academics. As the conference concluded, a tsunami hit the Hindu-American community. The tsunami was in the form of city and state-wide proclamations across the US, recognising the month of October as the ‘Hindu Heritage Month’.

The DGHC was a severe jolt to the often somnolent Hindu psyche in the US. Basking in the glory of being called the ‘ideal minority,’ ‘highly educated,’ one of the ‘highest family income,’ etc. Hindu Americans are not known to indulge in political activism like other religious groups in the US. A notable exception, perhaps, can be cited in the California textbook case. But the prospect of the virtual assembly of known Hinduphobes from around the globe in the guise of an academic conference going unchallenged woke up the sleeping giant.

DGHC claimed to examine, among other things, “the historical development of Hindutva violence against minorities and other marginalised communities.” However, in reality, the conference was an insult and an onslaught on Hinduism, Hindu Knowledge Tradition, and contemporary followers of Hindu Dharma.

Several Hindu advocacy groups, such as the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the Coalition of Hindus in North America (CoHNA), Hindu Students Council, Hindu On Campus, Hindu Council of America (VHPA), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), etc., launched a massive grassroots campaign. Eventually, DGHC organisers took down logos of all universities from their websites and PR materials. In the end, the conference was nothing more than a brazen display of Hindu hatred and misinformation about Hindu Dharma.

Several Hindu organisations announced a plan to commemorate October as the Hindu Heritage Month, taking this grassroots mobilisation and groundswell of support a step further.

“Dharma-based organisations including those of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain traditions from around the world,” said the VHPA in its press release, “are pleased to announce the addition of another major festival, indeed an entire month of festivals, in October as the Hindu Heritage Month.” In addition to the VHPA, the program also has the backing of CoHna, the Hindu University of America, etc.

The Hindu organisations lobbied with their elected representatives to recognise October as Hindu Heritage month and declare their communities for formal proclamations. So far, the US states of Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Georgia; cities of Dallas and Stafford have issued proclamations. Hindu groups are also trying to get the month recognised by the Federal Government. The organisers said they want President Joe Biden to formally declare the month of October as the Hindu Heritage Month by an Executive Order.

“Keeping in with aspirations of the three million-strong Hindu-American community and to continue to harbour and maintain good relations with India, the motherland of millions of Hindu-Americans, we urge you (the President) to formally declare by an Executive Order the the month of October as the Hindu Heritage Month,” they said.

 VHPA president Ajay Shah said it is surprising to know how little people know about the Sanatan Vedic Dharma. “It’s high time to educate the world on our philosophy  and ethos.”

He said by mid-July, the VHPA, along with other Hindu groups, had sent over 20 letters to State Government heads requesting for the proclamation of October as Hindu Heritage Month.

The Hindu Heritage Month celebration will showcase the diversity that is so fundamental to Hindu civilisation. The organisers’ festivities will include cultural programs, fashion shows, webinars, multi-day conferences, walkathons, and more.

The cultural month will re-emphasise the Hindu worldview for future generations

Welcoming the decision of the organisers to hold the month-long event, Hindu Student Council president Arnav Kejriwal said, “The American experience is all about sharing and learning each of our unique cultures, traditions, and histories.”

Shedding light on the event, Kejriwal said, “We will get to see so many communities graciously tell their unique stories in the course of a dedicated history and awareness month, and I am ecstatic about the prospect of seeing the Hindu American community offering our own stories in return.”

According to the president of Hindu University of America, Kalyan Viswanathan, “The Hindu Heritage Month is a great opportunity for the Hindu community to remember our collective journey so far—from the ancient Vedic times, our own golden eras, through the trials and tribulations of conquests and colonisation—and look optimistically forward at the opportunity we have for recovering and rearticulating the Hindu worldview for future generations.”

General Secretary of the CoHNA Shobha Swami made a point about the diversity of the culture that will be celebrated during the entire month of October. “Participation of the multi-generational Hindus from different parts of the world who call the US their home adds to the colour of the ethnic tapestry here. They would like to showcase their vibrancy in arts, dance, music, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, Ayurveda, and food in all its richness for this month-long celebration in October,” she said. 

 

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