WASHINGTON, DC, June 21, 2013: The Hindu American Foundation, founded by second generation professionals as an advocacy organization for Hindus in the United States and elsewhere in the world, June 4 celebrated 10 years of activism on Capitol Hill. Before the gala celebration -- attended by over 300 people in the ornate House Canon Caucus Room in Capitol Hill -- a Hindu monk offered the opening prayer for the US House of Representatives. The birth sesquicentennial of Swami Vivekananda, considered Hinduism's first ambassador to the West, was marked in the Congressional Record. The Congressional reception, where Senate and House leaders lauded the HAF's accomplishments over the years, followed. 'The dividends of a decade of investments in education, advocacy, and tireless interactions with every level of our nation's government were on display throughout HAF's full day of events,' said Dr Mihir Meghani, physician, co-founder and member of the HAF's board of directors. "A Hindu prayer given on the floor of the House, and the words of Swami Vivekananda offered by Congressman Ami Bera inspired a remarkable day and will carry us into the next decade of tireless work."
Early June 4, over 50 delegates representing HAF fanned out in teams, visiting dozens of Congressional offices. Delegates asked the lawmakers to begin a Congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, calling on the incoming Nawaz Sharif government to take concrete steps to ease the continuing religious persecution of and violence faced by Hindus, Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims, and Christians in Pakistan. HAF delegates called for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee to host Congressional hearings on the retaliatory violence faced by Hindus and Buddhists in Bangladesh in the wake of recent verdicts against Islamist leaders implicated for their roles in the 1971 genocide. Delegates also articulated Hindu perspectives on the pending immigration legislation.
At noon, June 4, Hindu American Foundation delegates gathered in the House of Representatives gallery within the United States Capitol rotunda. At the joint invitation of US representative Ed Royce(Republican, California), chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (Democrat, Hawaii), Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, spiritual head of Kauai's Hindu Monastery and publisher, Hinduism Today, offered a Hindu invocation to open the day's House proceedings. 'The tragic Boston marathon bombings, still vivid in all our minds, implore us to advocate the humanity of a nonviolent approach in all of life's dimensions,' said Veylanswami, the first Hindu monk to offer the opening prayer for Congress. 'Hindu scripture declares, without equivocation, that the highest of high ideals is to never knowingly harm anyone.' Royce thanked the monk, and acknowledged the HAF's decade of advocacy and work on the Hill.
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