In the saffron robes is America's most media-savvy Hindu priest, Rajan Zed. It's a photo taken yesterday at a Thanksgiving eve church service in Nevada. Hinduism, represented by Zed, was one of several religions present at the interfaith service, including the imam seen on the left). See the text of his press release below (one of more than a dozen he has sent us about his various activities this year).
Zed, as many of you know, became the first Hindu priest to open a session of the U.S. Senate when he recited a prayer on the Senate floor on July 12, 2007 (see SAJAforum coverage). PHOTO: M.L. Bates (click to magnify).
Read the press release and post your comments below.
Press release from Rajan Zed, rjnzed [at] gmail.com
Sanskrit mantras in a Christian church on Thanksgiving
Nevada (USA): Recitations from ancient Hindu scriptures reverberated in a Christian church in Nevada on the occasion of Thanksgiving eve service.
Rajan Zed, the prominent Hindu chaplain, read from Rig-Veda (oldest existing scripture of the world dated from around 1,500 BCE), Upanishad (Hindu scripture containing mystical teachings), and Bhagavad-Gita (famous philosophical and spiritual poem) in Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno (Nevada) during Twenty-second Annual Thanksgiving Service of Northwestern Nevada held on November 21 evening.
Starting with Gayatri Mantra, Zed read from chapter two of Bhagavad-Gita talking about actions and actions' fruits and chapter ten of Rig-Veda praying for unity in resolve and hearts. His verse from Brahadaranyakopanisad (Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrityor mamratam gamaya) meaning "Lead me from the unreal to the Real, Lead me from darkness to Light, Lead me from death to immortality", was well received by the audience belonging to different faiths which jam-packed the Church hall.
Despite conflicts around the world, various faith traditions in northwestern Nevada came together to share the spirit of love on Thanksgiving, Zed said. Shanti-Shanti, the only Sanskrit rock band of the world, performed on the occasion. Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., Bishop of International Community of Christ, discussed the issue of "Giving Thanks in a Challenging World." A procession of the clergy dressed in an array of religious garb was held before the Service.
Other events included "The Shepherd's Bells" calling to worship, liturgical dance by prominent dancer Martina Young, Trinity Choir singing "Let All Things Now Living", Responsorial Psalm by Rabbi Myra Soifer, "Thanksgiving Hymn" by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints choir, verses from Quran, musical tribute by Bahai Roger Hogan, reading from New Testament by Catholic priest Father George Wolf, etc.
Thanksgiving is a major national holiday in United States of America when families come together and many churches are open for special services. First Thanksgiving service by Europeans in North America occurred in 1578 but native peoples held harvest festivals long before.
All people have more in common than they have in conflict and challenge today is to seek unity that celebrates diversity, Zed adds.
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