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ShantiSeva in January:Strengthening Communities while Advancing Peace and Harmony

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January 12, 2012, Washington, D.C.:  Today, more than ever, we need to come together to strengthen our communities and our nation while advancing peace and harmony.  This weekend, HASC urges the community to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Swami Vivekananda through service; and to celebrate the festivals of Makar Sankranti/Pongal/Lohri through service, through UtsavSeva, (Festival of Service).

Our UtsavSeva, program, which has the support of many spiritual and secular leaders is an infaith interfaith seva bridge.  Our presentation highlights the importance of the festival and suggests related seva activities. HASC, for example, is working with many organizations to bring the festival to the military troops by coordinating food care packages, writing letters to the troops, arranging food drives for the homeless, promote greening by serving Mother Earth, partnering with HandsOn to organize Sunday Supper…..  Contact our AmeriCorp VISTAs Ramya@hinduamericanseva.org or  Sohini@hinduamericanseva.org for additional information.

As we honor Swami Vivekananda on his 149th birth anniversary, today, January 12th, we are reminded he was a vociferous proponent of seva, “Arise, awake, sleep no more; within each of you there is the power to remove all wants and all miseries. Believe this and that power will be manifested”.  He was a proponent of pluralistic seva “Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.”   Swami Vivekanada’s teachings and his focus on seva to uplift the poor are guiding principles for us, at HASC as we leverage the best from both traditions.Priyanka Srinivasa, a youth leader at the White House conference highlighted "Vivekananda and the Allegory of Pluralism in a Globalizing World and Me."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.  The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President's national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.  The MLK Day of Service on January 16, empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems.

It is in this spirit of the coming of the 2 traditions, we request you to participate in the UtsavSeva programs and the MLK celebrations. Dr. King himself was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi who believed in the power behind the Vedic statement — “Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah”— or nonviolence—as mankind’s foremost duty. We request you to tell your seva story either on our website or on serve.gov.

This month, in the spirit of UtsavSeva, HASC is partnering with HandsOn Network and participating in America's Sunday Supper, a new American tradition. Inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, America’s Sunday Supper invites people from diverse backgrounds to come together on January 16, 2011 to share a meal and discuss issues that affect your community and the possible actions you can take, highlighting the power each one of us has to make a difference. Watch last year's broadcast of America's Sunday Supper and register a Sunday Supper of your own.

Makar Sankranti , celebrated on January 14th and 15th  is a Hindu Celebration of Science and Spirituality “The essence of the festivals calls for withdrawing from unethical and disturbing behavior and making a commitment to uphold universal values that promote harmony and mutual respect. It is thanking Mother Earth for all Her Gifts.": explained Dr. Siva Subramanian, Board Member, Hindu American Seva Charities. 

We urge the community to serve to strengthen our communities. As a start we have suggested a few ideas for consideration. We urge you to create your own seva, UtsavSeva projects and share your stories widely, throughout the country and beyond.

Regards

Anju Bhargava

Founder, Hindu American Seva Charities

 Dr.Ved Chaudhary ved@hinduamericanseva.org (732-881-9881); Sohini Sircar sohini@hinduamericanseva.org

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