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Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America: The first annual Hindu Heritage Day celebrated in New Jersey

The HHD was successful in providing a platform for the Hindu-American population to reconnect with their land and culture

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Image Source : Facebook
  • The first annual “Hindu Heritage Day” by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-Ney Jersey, was celebrated on July 9
  • The main highlight of the event was the cultural program in which over 250 students performed in events like classical music and dance
  • A Sanskrit play – “Utthishthata, Jagrata” was also performed on stage

The first annual “Hindu Heritage Day” by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-New Jersey, was celebrated on July 9 at North Brunswick High School, 98 Raider Road, North Brunswick. It was a grand success with more than 900 attendees, including children of all races and religions.

The VHPA is an independent, non-profit and volunteer-based charitable (socio-cultural- spiritual) organization serving the needs of Hindu community in US with an aim to create a dynamic, vibrant Hindu society inspired by the eternal values of Sanatana Dharma, and the lofty ideals of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam, meaning “the entire creation is one family.”

With an aim to promote, support and celebrate Santana Dharma and the values and traditions of the rich Hindu heritage, several events were held simultaneously over eight hours for people of all ages. About 11 non-profit organisations and many local food and clothing vendors also participated.

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The main highlight of the event was the cultural program in which over 250 students performed in events like classical music, dance, poem recitation and chanting the traditional hymns. A Sanskrit play – “Utthishthata, Jagrata” was also performed on stage. A discourse on stress relief was given by Swami Adhyatamananda. Messages or quotes were cited from Hindu literature to broaden the understanding on several universal topics.

Several activities like face painting kite flying, field games like kho-kho, rangoli and henna competitions were held for the kids and ladies while the elderly enjoyed the Kavi Sammelan and the thought-provoking plays. The Hindu Heritage Day (HHD) thus exhibited the vibrant, artistic and spiritual heritage of India.

A play in simple Sanskrit! - "Utthishthata, Jagrata". Image Source : Facebook
A play in simple Sanskrit! – “Utthishthata, Jagrata”. Image Source : Facebook

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“VHPA wants to engage second-generation youth and their families to connect with their heritage, and also give them a platform to exhibit their talent and skills,” said Brahm Sharma, president of the N.J. Chapter, reports newsindiatimes.com.

Arun Joshi, one of the main organizers of the event, said that by making HHD an annual event, an effort is being made to help the public understand Hindu values and different aspects of the Indian tradition.

The HHD was successful in providing a platform for the Hindu-American population to reconnect with their land and culture and cultivate an interest in the Hindu heritage and values among the children.

The organizers are planning to include a diverse crowd like those who are unfamiliar with Hinduism or who want to learn about it to the event from next year.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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“Visit Strengthens Further Internal Cohesion and Unity”: Pope Francis Meets Leaders of North Macedonia

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to "sow these seeds" of solidarity.

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowds in Skopje on May 7. RFERL

Pope Francis, who is on a historic first trip to North Macedonia, has met with the country’s leadership and held Mass in the main square of the capital, Skopje.

Francis was welcomed by the outgoing president, Gjorge Ivanov, and other government officials.

He has sought to encourage the country’s drive toward integration into the EU and NATO after its name change resolved a decades-long dispute with Greece last year.

Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian.

But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. North Macedonia is home to an estimated 15,000 Catholics.

In meetings with Ivanov and with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace, Francis praised North Macedonia’s multiethnic and multifaith culture, calling it an example of peaceful coexistence and a bridge between East and West.

“These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe,” he said.

Christian
Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian. VOA

“It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.”

In his speech, President Ivanov complained about delays in accepting Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic family.

“You come at a time when [North] Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the [North] Macedonian [nation] is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community,” he said.

Viktor Dimovski, state secretary of North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry, told the media on May 6 that the pope’s historic visit comes at a crucial moment as the country seeks entry into the European Union and NATO.

“The pope’s visit strengthens further internal cohesion and unity, and brings messages of reconciliation and solidarity,” he said.

The pope’s visit also included a prayer at the memorial of North Macedonia’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa, who was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in Skopje when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Francis was surrounded by Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial. Mother Teresa was canonized by Francis in 2016.

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to “sow these seeds” of solidarity.

“Living together is not always easy, we know that,” the pope said in a video message. “But it’s worth struggling toward, because the most beautiful mosaics are the ones that are richest in colors.”

muslims
But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. Pixabay

With the name dispute with Greece now resolved, North Macedonia, which has been an EU aspirant since 2005, hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. Skopje also expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of the year.

Also Read: Puppeteers Bring Message of Harmony, Love, Tolerance in Pakistan’s Karachi

Stevo Pendarovski, who was elected president in a runoff election on May 5, said he saw his victory as a “ticket for NATO and EU.”

Six Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia — are in various stages of the accession process to join the EU. (RFERL)