Mitrata Sangam in DC
DC Vibhaag has a huge potential for Yuva activities and involving students is the larger goal of HSS. There are four major Universities with a substantial number of Hindu students in this Vibhaag: i) George Washington U (DC), ii) George Mason U (Virginia), iii) U of Maryland, and iv) Johns Hopkins U (Maryland). To initiate and improve interaction amongst the existing and potential student Swayamsevaks and Sevikas, DC Vibhaag Yuvas organized a "Mitrata Sangam" amongst themselves on February 26, 2011. This Sangam involved a tour of four temples and Ramkrishna Mission's Vedanta Center in Maryland. There were 12 "Mitra" who participated in this Sangam: 6 from GMU, 3 from GWU, 1 each from U of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, and 1 IT professional (recent graduate from U of Maryland). Of the 12, 10 were Swayamsevaks and 2 Sevikas. The Sangam was guided by Shri Darshan Soni, HSS Pracharak currently based in DC.
The Sangam began with visit to the Vedanta Center. There, we were very fortunate to meet Swami Aatmagyananand. Swamiji gave us a very insightful discourse on the life of Swami Ramskrishna and Swami Vivekanand, and Ramakrishna Mission in general. Following that we gave our Parichay to Swamiji. During the Parichay everyone spoke about one character from Hindu history to whom, and why, they connect with. We then moved to Kali temple. There, we were greeted by a senior Bengali person who gave a brief talk on Hindu Gods and Goddesses and their roles in human life. Our next stop was Sri Siva Vishnu temple, the largest in Maryland. We were lucky to have reached during the Aarti time. We had our lunch here and brief Charcha before moving to the Swaminarayan BAPS temple. We were amazed by the excellent community facilities at the Swaminarayan temple. Here, we were greeted by a young Gujarati-speaking volunteer who showed us around the temple.
We ended the Sangam at Hindu Temple, the venue for Balagokulam Shakha in Adelphi, MD. We did a 30 minutes of Sewa activity by cleaning the Shakha premises. Here, we were joined by Shri Shyam Gokhale, Bala Pramukh for NE Sambhaag, and Shri Bhanu Gouda, Sah Karyawah for DC Vibhaag, for the Shakha. During the Shakha we did Surya Namaskar, Khel, Geet and Charcha. Our Charcha-vishay was the recent controversy of "Taking back Yoga". After the Charcha we again did a quick Parichay. Here, we were supposed to recall the Hindu character selected during the initial Parichay by the "Mitra" sitting on left.
The Sangam was great success. Everybody was keen on having another such activity in near future. We have tentatively planned for a Sewa activity at the Vedanta Center in April.