Multi-Faith Panel at Frank McCourt High School, Mar-16-2015
On Monday, March 16th, Sadhana was fortunate to speak about Hinduism on a multi-faith panel at Frank McCourt High School located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Abdelghani Benyahya, David Plant, Lauren Henderson, and Pat Higgiston represented Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, respectively. The program opened with a brief explanation of each faith tradition by its representative. The panel then took questions from an audience of approximately 200 students, each attuned to the session with their attention firmly fixed on the panelists’ answers. Sadhana representative Rohan Narine explained that Hinduism accepts all faith traditions and is guided by the tenets of karma, dharma, and reincarnation, three principles that are fortified by the constant practice of yoga. Questions from the student body were thought provoking, such as, “Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic?” Sadhana advocates for Hindus to engage in interfaith discussions as it is a primary method to help others understand the faith and build stronger relationships within the faith community.
Sadhana Honored as Hero of Jamaica Bay, Feb-19-2015
On February 19, 2015, Sadhana was honored as a “Hero of Jamaica Bay” at a joint reception held by New York City Audubon and film project Jamaica Bay Lives. Gateway Superintendent Jennifer Nerssisian delivered a kind introduction of Sadhana, Senator Charles Schumer delivered the keynote address, in which he thanked Sadhana and the other honorees of the evening, Aviator Sports & Events and Ronald Bourque for their work in protecting the Bay. Here’s an article recapping the event.
Light for Lima Vigil at Union Square, Dec-07-2014
On December 7, 2014, Sadhana participated in a candlelight interfaith vigil at New York City’s Union Square. The vigil included powerful prayers and songs from diverse faith communities. Sadhana was proud to represent Hindus in a call to bring faith into the issue of climate change. Rohan Narine of Sadhana delivered a message which you can watch below.
Supporting the EPA's Clean Power Plan, Nov-19-2014
On November 8th, 2014, Sadhana held its second session on Healthy Relationships geared towards loving oneself. Acharya Arun Gossai began the session with a non-denominational prayer and a universal message of treating oneself with compassion and respect. Pt. Devanand Das of the Prem Bhakti Mandir powerfully expounded on his trials and tribulations as a teen growing up in New York City and his ability to triumph in spite of the adversity. He memorably quoted Pt. Rajin Balgobind by stating that “gold does not become gold unless it goes through the fire.” Chitra Singh of the Rajkumari Cultural Center detailed her journey overcoming addiction, and her message resonated with attendees who voiced the importance of sharing your personal battles with others. Annan Boodram of the Caribbean Voice detailed the suicide epidemic in Guyana, how it impacts the diaspora, and what we can do to save a friend or loved one's life. The event ended with beautiful acoustic music performed by Chitra.
On October 11th, 2014, Sadhana hosted its first series on Healthy Relationships. This session was called "Loving Your Partner" and focused on issues of domestic violence and dating abuse. There were many moving moments in the session and one attendee described the initiative as the first step towards healing in the community.
Brooklyn Bal Vihar Celebrates Gandhi Jayanti!, Oct-02-2014
Sacred Waters at the Queens Museum, Sep-14-2014
From September through November of 2014, Sacred Waters was displayed at the Queens Museum. The exhibit included a diorama depicting the offerings left at Jamaica Bay, along with myriad deities and religious items which were washed up ashore, including jhandi flags, malas (flower garlands), and divas (lanterns). Each item was accompanied by a description detailing its significance to Hinduism or Indo-Caribbean worship.
The exhibit was covered in various news outlets including NY1, the Queens Courier, the Forum Newsgroup, the Times Ledger, and the Warbler. It even made it onto Indo Caribbean Alliance’s Top 10 Indo-Caribbean Moments of 2014!
Sadhana on Let's Talk with Lakshmee, Sep-13-2014
Sadhana was featured on Let's Talk with Lakshmee in September of 2014. We are thankful to Lakshmee Singh for her continued support of our work.
Sadhana at Princeton University's SANGAM 2014, Apr-19-2014
Sadhana participated in Princeton University’s SANGAM 2014, a day-long conference for Hindu students. SANGAM sought to explore what Hinduism looks like in today’s world and addressed issues like Hindu identity, tradition and spirituality, and seva and social justice.
Sadhana’s Aminta Kilawan led a break-out session entitled “Seva: Hindu Perspectives on Social Justice,” in collaboration with Hindu American Seva Charities’ Anju Bhargava.
Sadhana’s Rohan Narine spoke alongside Vineet Chander, Princeton’s Hindu Student Life Coordinator and Anu Yadav, an actress and activist about “Discovering Your Dharma.”
SANGAM culminated with a keynote by renowned director Sri Rao, who has previously joined Sadhana at Baruch College for an open dialogue on “What It Means to Be a Progressive Hindu.”
The event wouldn't have been possible without the partnership and commitment of Keith White, Sheridan Roberts, and Jeanette Parker of Gateway National Recreation Area. We are honored that the following groups co-sponsored: Sangam, Operation Dreamcatchers and Rajkumari Cultural Center. Thanks to the adorable kids of Brooklyn Bala Vihar and joyous dancers of Sanasani Dance Troupe for their participation. And finally, thanks to all the community members who came out to volunteer, particularly the group from Adi Shakti Maha Kali Mandir. We had a turnout of over 50, and collected over ten huge garbage bags on the beach.
Visit to Adi Shakti Maha Kali Mandir, Jan-28-2014
Sadhana members Rohan Narine and Sunita Viswanath visited the Adi Shakti Maha Kali Mandir on January 26th 2014. Pandit Arjun welcomed Sadhana and expressed wholehearted support for Project Prithvi. Rohan and Sunita spoke to the congregation about Sadhana's work to rally the Hindu community to clean up our beaches, and to change our way of worship so that we stop leaving litter on the beaches. Pandit Arjun and devotees pledged to join this effort, and come out for our regular beach cleanups.
On Sunday, January 5th, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, with the vision of Dr. Henry Goldschmidt, partnered with Mr. Michael Termini of the St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City for the first of a three part lecture-series on the Religions of the East. Focusing on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, Mr. Termini, who serves as the President of the Cooke Center for Learning and Development in Morningside Heights and as an Educator at St. Francis Xavier Church, thought it best to start with oldest first: Hinduism. Sadhana Board Member & Community Activist Mr. Rohan Narine and Hindu Temple Society of North America Trustee Mr. Mohan Ram spoke for approximately thirty minutes each on the evolution of Hinduism in their motherlands of Guyana and India, respectively.
Mr. Narine, a London born New Yorker of Guyanese heritage, began his lecture with a commercial he saw during a Super Bowl that focused on the pitfalls of simple mistranslations. He opened, “A man traveling on business without his newly wedded wife visited a main attraction, and posed for a photo with a hostess there. He developed the photo and out of love decided to send it to his wife as a postcard. He wrote on the back, “Wish you were her!”” After the audience of approximately twenty-eight people laughed and got settled in he said, “Now, if one letter completely changed the entire meaning of that sentence, imagine what one missing letter can do to a Hindu Holy Text translated from ancient Sanskrit to English by British scholars in the early 19th Century.” Mr. Narine spoke about how Caribbean Hindus gradually waned from the caste system due to intermarriage simply to keep the religion from dying. He elucidated about a second major blow to the Caribbean Hindus that came with the near extinction of the vegetarian diet, as all the staple foods of a Hindu were no where to be found in the Islands of the Caribbean. Mr. Narine closed by saying that he sourced a lot of his information partly from his father, who is the President of the Shri Trimurti Bhavan, a Hindu Mandir in Ozone Park, New York, and his Guru, Pandit Chunelall Narine, the Head Priest of that Mandir.
Mr. Narine closed with an Inter-faith message, and introduced Mr. Mohan Ram. A Hindu born in India, Mr. Ram contextualized himself as a former CFO of a Wall Street Firm who took an early retirement package to serve as a full-time Trustee to the Hindu Temple Society of North America in Flushing, Queens. Mr. Ram opened with a Sanskrit prayer of blessing to his audience and began his lecture by explaining the Hindu belief of Reincarnation. He said, “Hindus do not believe in a heaven or a hell. We keep on getting reborn until we attain Moksha, each time striving to be closer to God. This world is as good or as bad as we make it for ourselves.” His wit kicked in mid-way as he coined his own phrase, the “Hindu Social Security System.” He said, “See, Hindu children are taught from a young age to take care of their elders. I cared for my dad until he passed away, and showed this to my son, as his son will do for him. Isn’t that real Social Security?” Mr. Ram concluded by tackling the Three Gunas; Satva for Truth, Rajas for Passion, and Tamas for Ignorance. Wisely finishing earlier than scheduled for questions, speakers Narine and Ram combined brains, bouncing answers off of each other and making sure all raised hands were called on.
Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus would like to thank Dr. Henry Goldschmidt, who is the Director of Education Programs at the Interfaith Center of New York, and Sadhana Board Member Aminta Kilawan for connecting in 2013 at an Interfaith Panel Discussion for the Harlem Community Justice Center. Sadhana would also like to thank Mr. Michael Termini and Ms. Luz Marina Diaz of the St. Francis Xavier Church. May our new relationship continue towards permanent respect for all faiths on this beautiful planet we all call home.
Diwali Nagar in Richmond Hill, Queens, Oct-26-2013
On Saturday, October 26th, 2013, Sadhana participated in the 2013 Diwali Nagar, held at the Arya Spiritual Center Grounds in Richmond Hill, NY. Sadhana had the chance to introduce our mission and vision to community members who expressed great interest in the work that we do. Common conversations included those from Hindu parents looking to engage their children in open dialogue and seva activities, and from youth who found Sadhana to be “just what they were looking for,” as they had lingering questions about their Hindu identity. Pt. Dipak Rambharose, who conducted a beautiful Lakhsmi havan before the festivities expressed the profound need for a group like Sadhana to enable Hindus to do different forms of “pooja,” which often are broader than our traditional rituals.
Sadhana would like to thank the organizers of the event, spearheaded by Lakshmee Singh of the Divya Jyoti Association, for giving us the opportunity to share our mission with the wider Indo-Caribbean community in Queens. Sadhana would also like to thank volunteers Ramesh Kilawan, Sheorani Kilawan, and Hemma Kilawan for helping to decorate our vibrant booth!
Project Prithvi Beach Cleanup, Sep-21-2013
Beach Cleanup & Paddle Event, Aug-31-2013
On Thursday, August 15th, four faith-based leaders from the New York City area gathered at Harlem's Sabur Mosque for an interfaith dialogue with the Center for Court Innovation's Harlem Youth Court - an empowered group of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 who serve as judges, jurors, and advocates handling real cases involving their peers (usually first time offenses of shoplifting, truancy or fighting). In resolving such cases, the youth use positive peer pressure to ensure that fellow young people restore the harm they have done to their respective communities and receive the help they need to avoid future involvement with the criminal justice system.
The event was organized by the Interfaith Center of New York and the Harlem Community Justice Center in efforts to raise awareness about Islam, Christianity, Yoruba, and Hinduism's distinctive views of justice, punishment, forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation. Speakers included Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil of the Sabur Mosque, Iyalorisha Oseye Mchawi, a Yoruba priestess of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Rev. Kenneth Radcliffe, deacon at the Resurrection Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, and Sadhana's own Aminta Kilawan representing the Hindu perspective.
The event proved to be informative and inspiring for both the youth court members and the panelists. Ultimately, all faiths had one thing in common: restoration always trumps retribution.
Visit http://interfaithcenter.org/archives/5949 for a detailed article on the event.
Peace Rally for Indo-Caribbean Community, Jun-27-2013
On June 27th, 2013, Sadhana joined other New York City based organizations to rally for change in the Indo-Caribbean community of Queens, which has recently been subjected to a series of violent incidents, particularly in recreational places like clubs and bars. The Peace Rally, as it has been coined, has stimulated the formation of a coalition which seeks to promote peace and non-violence via systemic work in the community.
Indo-Caribbean Convene, Jun-23-2013
Blessed Night Out - Faith & Homelessness, May-30-2013
On May 30th, 2013, Sadhana joined the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing for their "Blessed Night Out" where faith leaders advocated against homelessness in New York City and beckoned mayoral candidates to make housing a top priority during their tenure. Sadhana's Rohan Narine delivered a message on living not just for oneself or for one's own faith, but for humanity at large.
Sadhana at Princeton: An Open Dialogue, Apr-26-2013
On April 26th, 2013, Sadhana traveled to Princeton, NJ where we were greeted by members of Princeton University's Hindu Satsangam. On this beautiful spring day, we had an impactful dialogue on the scenic campus lawn, discussing issues like same-sex marriage, Hindu stereotypes, violence against women, and what it means to be a young Hindu American. Sadhana thanks Vineet Chander, Coordinator for Hindu Life at Princeton University, and Allegra Volara, PHS's President, for making this progressive event possible.
Hindu Temple Society Inaugural Youth Conference, Nov-17-2012
On November 3rd, 2012, the Hindu Temple Society of North America, fondly known as the Ganesh Temple, held its first ever youth conference. With the themes "Breaking Barriers" and "Living the Hindu-American Identity" streaming throughout, the conference included riveting messages from U.S. Army Captain Rajiv Srinivasan and WPIX Morning News Anchor Sukanya Krishnan. Sadhana was honored to play an active role in both planning and participating in the day's events. Co-founders Aminta Kilawan and Rohan Narine served on the Temple's Conference Planning Committee. In the Social Justice Initiatives panel, moderated by Aminta, co-founder and panelist Sunita Viswanath emphasized the need for gender equality and an open space for Progressive Hindu activism to thrive. Panelist Rohan Narine spoke on the migration of Indo-Caribbeans to the United States, and pressed the importance of community service and seva. After the panel, several young audience members emphasized the importance of gender equality among Hindus while another expressed newfound willingness to perform seva. This was the first time Sadhana was featured in such an event and we thank the Ganesh Temple for giving us that distinguished opportunity.
Sadhana with Shri Trimurti Bhavan Youth..., Aug-12-2012
Sadhana at NYU: An open dialogue..., Apr-24-2012
On April 24, Sadhana and the Hindu Students Council of New York University, co-hosted an event titled "An Open Discussion on Progressive Hinduism." This event was well attended by NYU students and others, and the discussion was lively, interesting and provocative. This event was also a part of our listening tour, to understand what other progressive Hindus were seeking, or interested in, so that we could better serve our communities. We plan to have many more of these open dialogues and discussions at temples, Hindu organizations and other community settings.
An evening with Swami Prabhuddananda..., Apr-20-2012
On April 20, we hosted a beautiful gathering called "An Evening with Swami Probuddhananda." Swamiji gave a talk on the application of the Bhagavad Gita to our daily lives. He is touring the United Sates this summer, representing the International Vedanta Society of which he is the Vice President. If you wish to contact Swamiji, you can email him at email@example.com.
Sadhana: At our Inaugural Townhall meeting..., Jan-15-2012