Hartford City Council opened with Hindu prayer for first time in 227 years

City Council of Hartford, capital city of Connecticut (USA),
reverberated with Sanskrit mantras from ancient Hindu scriptures
on June 13 evening, which was reportedly for the first time
since it was incorporated in 1784.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered invocation from Sanskrit
scriptures before Hartford City Council on this day. After
Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of
the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism
and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism,
recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world
still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-
Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He
started and ended the prayer with Om, the mystical
syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used
to introduce and conclude religious work. Om was followed
by Gayatri Mantra, the most sacred mantra in Hinduism.

Hartford City Council members, City employees, and public
stood quietly in prayer mode with heads bowed down during
the prayer. Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala
(rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark)
on the forehead, Rajan Zed sprinkled few drops of sacred
water from river Ganga in India around the podium before
the prayer. He presented copies of Bhagavad-Gita to Mayor
Pedro E. Segarra and City Council President rJo Winch before the prayer.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed said "Asato ma sad
gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya", which
he then translated as "Lead me from the unreal to the Real,
Lead me from darkness to Light, and Lead me from death to
Immortality. Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged Council
members to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

This is a day of honor for the community when wisdom from
ancient Sanskrit scriptures is being read in this great hall
of democracy of great city of Hartford, Rajan Zed said before
the invocation when Winch introduced him.

Zed is one of the panelists for On Faith, a prestigious interactive
conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post.
He has been awarded World Interfaith Leader Award and is
Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to New York headquartered
Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, Director of Interfaith
Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, Spiritual Advisor to
National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has
about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its
ultimate goal.

Hartford, named in 1637, houses USA's oldest public park
(Bushnell Park), oldest continuously published newspaper
(Hartford Courant), oldest public art museum (The Wadsworth
Atheneum); besides Trinity College and Hartford
Seminary. Notable people associated with it include dictionary
author Noah Webster, inventor Sam Colt, financier J.P. Morgan,
author Mark Twain, broadcasters Howard Stern and Bill O'Reilly,
actress Katharine Hepburn, musician Mike Carabello, basketball
player Marcus Camby, etc. David B. Panagore is Chief Operating
Officer of Hartford, which is nicknamed as "Insurance Capital
of the World".

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