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10 Hindu youths honored for serving community

By Manu Shah 

Houston: Hindus of Greater Houston have honored 10 youths who live their Hindu values by finding enterprising ways to serve the community. Nominated by various Hindu faith-based organizations, they were recognized for their service to the community and promoting Hindu culture at the 10th Virtual Annual Hindu Youth Awards by Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH). The event was hosted by Vallabh Priti Seva Samaj (VPSS).

PM Modi sent a message lauding the awards to “further strengthen the connect with their roots.” The awards were presented by Consul General Aseem Mahajan who lauded the youth for displaying leadership and their participation in the community.  

Actor Nitish Bharadwaj, Krishna of Mahabharat fame, was the keynote speaker at the event. .

An overview of HGH’s activities during 2020 was offered by President Thara Narasimhan. HGH participated in 20 city and international events during the year, organized multiple food drives and one blood drive.

The youth awardees were Anish Nayak (Seva International), Anusha Sathyanarayan (Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houston), Nithya Ramankulangara (Sri Meenakshi Temple Society), Sandeep Prabhakar (Global Organization of Divinity), Kruthi Patel (BAPS), Vipaschit Nanda (Arya Samaj), Abhimanyu Aggarwal (Hindu Heritage Youth Camp) and Rajit Shah (Vallabh Vidya Mandir). Two special awards were presented to Namita Pallod (Sanatan Hindu Dharma) and Komal Luthra (Young Hindus of Greater Houston).

Dr. Madan Luthra was awarded the 2020 Akhil Chopra Unsung Heroes award for his selfless service especially during the country’s battle with the pandemic. Dr. Luthra, a retired research scientist from MD Anderson, volunteers as a core lead and is one of the initiators of the Case Management division of the Family Services program of Sewa.  Dr. Luthra and his team step in “like a family member” to help those coping with emergencies, accidents, medical issues, death and bereavement and family disputes.

 Actor Nitish Bharadwaj was keynote speaker for the event.

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International

Concerted efforts of Hindus of Greater Houston for COVID-19 relief

By Manu Shah

Houston: Since the early days of the pandemic, Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) have been routing their combined resources into multiple food drives, distribution of PPE’s and actively fundraising to help Houstonians impacted by the financial fallout.   About $100,000 has been raised by HGH to date for Sewa International and other organizations for their relief efforts.

In a meeting organized on May 23 and moderated by Secretary of Meenakshi Temple Parthasarthy Krishnaswamy, HGH board of trustees, advisors and other community leaders once again got together virtually to share updates and the way forward.

HGH Chairman Dev Mahajan apprised the gathering about the commendable work done by the Hindu Worship Society, Arya Samaj and VPSS with respect to food drives and the blood donation camp. VPSS was going to “targeted communities” to distribute food instead of requiring them to come to the temple. Sanjay Jain from the Arya Samaj and Rajinder Soni from the Hindu Worship Society filled in more details about the events. 

On May 31th, a blood donation drive will be held at the Arya Samaj School building from 9:00 am to 1.30 pm in collaboration with the Gulf Coast Blood Center. Sanjay Jain, who is spearheading this drive, appealed to all Indo Americans to register and donate blood. COVID testing is not required. However, donors should not have travelled to India in last one year. Those who come in between 9-10:30 am will receive a free pack of 5 cloth masks. Groceries will be distributed between 12-1:00 pm

Patanjali Yogpeeth President Shekhar Agrawal stated that preparations for Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev’s visit to Houston for the International Day of Yoga on June 21 has been shelved. A virtual two-hour program has been planned instead.

Member of the Hindu Heritage Youth Camp Committee Bharat Pallod regretfully reported that for the first time in 35 years, HGH may not be hosting its annual camp for children.

Kantibhai Patel and HGH President Thara Narasimhan from Voice of Sanatan Hinduism are offering free airtime for food and blood drive announcements. Tune into their program on Masala Radio from 12-2 pm every Sunday.

Houston’s top cardiologist Dr. Randeep Suneja offered a much-needed dose of optimism on the medical strides for COVID-19 treatments.
India is at the forefront of yet another successful endeavor. Durga Bari’s past President Parthasarathi Chatterjee highlighted the creation of the National Digital Library that is being put together by the IITs and will be the biggest data base of information on COVID-19 from testing to research.

A virtual online concert featuring singers like Kailash Kher, Shreya Ghoshal and Usha Uthap is also being organized to raise funds for the recent cyclone that has devastated Kolkata.

A few temples have cautiously opened their doors to devotees such as the Meenakshi Temple, VPSS and the Hindu Worship Society. Parathasarathy Krishnaswamy from MTS drew attention to some of the best practices that have been implemented to minimize the risk of infections.

Earlier in the teleconference, Pujya Bhaktivardhandas Swami, from the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston, appreciated the good work being done by volunteer leaders of HGH to support and counsel their members in these challenging times.

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