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Hindu Americans organize havans, prayers, raise funds for COVID-19 crisis

Washington, DC: Responding to President Donald Trump’s call for National Day of Prayer March 15, the Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, a body representing 400-plus Hindu temples, institutions, meditation and yoga groups in North America, organized havans and prayers across North America.

The effort, stated a press release, was aimed to address growing mental health and anxiety concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vallabha Tantry, one of the coordinators, explained that “Keeping in mind the concerns of mass gatherings, a two-pronged approach was adopted: prayers at the temples and organizations and prayers by the individuals (virtual satsang).”

She added: “Devotees were encouraged to pray from home when the havan was being performed at their respective temples by the priests. Facebook live or video recording were enabled by the temple management for the devotees to participate remotely in the prayer proceedings.”

Thousands of people across North America, said the press release, joined the prayers and many more are planning to join in the coming weeks.

The World Hindu Council of America, in partnership with the Hindu Students Council, has allocated funds for helping international students in need of emergency resources. As more funds are being raised, $5,000 have been immediately released for donations to the federal government institutions that are providing relief to vulnerable communities, as per the press release.

Ajay Shah, executive vice president of the World Hindu Council of America), noted that “Temples, gurudwaras and other dharmic institutions and communities will continue to pray for global health.”

Pointing to a recent health guideline report published by Harvard Medical School, Anil Sharma, a community organizer who was a part of this initiative, said: “Aasana, Dhyana and Praanayama, could go a long way in mitigating the isolation anxiety that is gripping communities across the United States.”

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