Today, Dharma-based organisations including those of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain traditions from around the world, announced the addition of another major festival, indeed an entire month of festivals, in October as the Hindu Heritage Month.
Hindus represent one of the newest and fastest-growing immigrant communities in the United States and Canada. Backed by a rock-solid family structure and love for education, they are fully integrated into every aspect of their adopted society, enriching it with not only outstanding professional contributions but also rich cultural heritage. From the elegant ethnic wear to delicious food to festivals like Holi and Diwali, their diverse and rich culture has impressed all in the Western world.
Based on the “open source” model, the celebration of Hindu Heritage Month will showcase the diversity that is so fundamental to Hindu civilisation. Each participating organisation will decide the manner as well as the schedule of their event(s). On a given day, there may be several events taking place in different parts of the United States and Canada. Celebrations may take many forms – cultural programs, fashion shows, webinars, multi-day conferences, walkathons and more, the choices being limited only by our imagination. Some events may be conducted in person but the majority will be virtual, given the Covid-19 situation.
Participation is open to all organisations, businesses and individuals that identify with the sanatana (everlasting) values embodied in Hindu dharma. More than 30 organisations have already joined hands in this exciting celebration of our shared heritage; many more are expected to join in the near future.
Dr Jai Bansal, Vice President – World Hindu Council of America, and one of the organisers of this event, underscores the fact that the Hindu community is, by nature, rather unassuming. However, with second and third generations now making their mark in their adopted lands, the time has come for the Hindu community to come out of their shell and talk about its rich cultural heritage and important role in making the multitude of contributions to every aspect of the fabric of the adopted lands.
Welcoming the decision of the organisers to hold this month-long event, President of the Hindu Student Council (HSC) Arnav Kejriwal said, “HSC is extremely excited about the Hindu Heritage Month. The American experience is all about sharing and learning each of our unique cultures, traditions and histories. 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.”
Putting the celebration in perspective, General Secretary of the World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) Amitabh VW Mittal said, “The Vedic sanatana dharma — which is, with a limited capacity of understanding, referred to as Hinduism — represents the only continuous civilisation that has survived the test of time for tens of thousands of years. There is no single book that one can consult to get what the Hindu philosophy is, as it is constantly evolving and its contribution to human civilisation is unmeasurable; its vibrance in fact runs the risk of being misinterpreted. The Hindu Heritage Month will give an opportunity to the world to understand how open and free this philosophy is, which is quite often limited misrepresented by the tag ‘religion’.”
Seeing this as the community’s chance to communicate to the world in general and the United States and Canada in particular, President of Hindu University of America Kalyan Viswanathan said, “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. Amidst the celebrations, I hope we can reflect on what it means to be Hindu in the modern world: whether it is just a matter of being of a certain ethnicity or we have something to say, something to contribute that may just be of immeasurable value to all of humanity.”
General Secretary of Coalition of Hindus of North America (COHNA) Shobha Swami made a point about the diversity of the culture that is going to be celebrated the whole of October. “Multi-generational Hindus from different parts of the world who call the US their home add to the colour of the ethnic tapestry here. They would like to showcase their vibrance in arts, dance, music, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, Ayurveda and food in all its richness for this month-long celebration in October,” she said.
Any organisation that wishes to participate in the HHM celebration is requested to register as a partner on our website: www.hindumonth.org.