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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2001: The men in saffron-colored robes sat cross-legged on the stage, the Gayatri Mantra reverberating through the tent. This was not the bank of the Ganges, but the County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, near the nation's capital. This weekend, it is filled with members of the Hindu movement Gayatri Pariwar, which claims a large worldwide following. About 3,000 people, mostly Washington area residents of Indian descent, performed the ritual of yagna at the Gayatri Scientific Expo 2001. "You are offering an oblation to the inner being," explained Vashisht Sharma, an engineer. For Indian immigrants in the Washington area, many of whom work in science or technology, Gayatri nourishes the part of them that yearns for home and for faith. "It refreshes your knowledge of your culture," said a chemical engineer with the U.S. Patent Office who left Bombay 30 years ago. "It's easy to lose touch with that. Also, since this is a religion based on science, it makes sense." The festival also included seminars on such topics as "Holistic Management" and "IT Revolution and Global Community."