ITALY, August 29 (First Page News): Sunday, August 28 over two thousand people came to the Gitananda Hindu Matha Ashram Monastery of Altare (SV) for the celebration of the Ganesha Festival, for many years an annual event for Hindus from all over Italy and neighboring European countries.
The stream of devotees came walking the long dirt road that separates the monastery from the rest of the world: an oasis of peace transformed for a day into the home to the largest Hindu festival in Italy. The procession toward the monastery was headed by a cheerful and imposing bedecked chariot. More than one hundred Hindu communities (from various spots in Italy and other countries) had the opportunity to gather at this spot to share in song, traditional dance and devotion.
Absent from this gathering was the Maa Bhagwati Association of Valdarno, whose members were engaged in aid activities in the earthquake zone. Thoughts and prayers went out to the victims of the recent earthquake in central Italy, with the hope that similar opportunities for interaction and sharing stimulate the sense of solidarity and closeness to the entire human population as one big family.
Paramahamsa Swami Yogananda Giri, founder and spiritual leader of the Italian Hindu Union and the Hindu monastery said in his welcome address: "We need peace. [...] The instrumental cause of the decadence of the world are economic interests and conflicts, but the efficient cause is selfishness." In the context of the usual ceremony of greetings and the allocation of gifts to the guests according to the Hindu tradition, this year the Italian Hindu Union has decided to hand over to some deserving Hindu women a certificate of merit, to give voice and visibility to to all those who, mostly in the shadows, work tirelessly for the good of their communities.