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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