This document provides a brief overview of the projects that emerged from the discussion and deliberations at the annual HMEC from its inception.
Overview of HMEC Projects
This document provides a brief overview of the projects that emerged from the discussion and deliberations at the HMEC 2009. It also includes some projects that were initiated in the previous HMEC conferences and are still in progress. The leads indicated are people who have expressed an interest in championing the project. Similarly, the teams are based on the interest individuals showed at the conference in an area.
1. Hindu Mandir News Letter
Establish Hindu Mandir communication channel in the form of a quarterly newsletter. A newsletter provides a medium to share highlights of the events taking place at mandirs across the country. Information on significant issues can be shared with other mandirs.
2. Hindu Mandir Experts Knowledge Database
To develop a knowledge database on problems and solutions pertaining to mandir administration, operations, programs, and construction, that can be accessed by those seeking expert advice on these matters. The answers to questions shall be provided by mandir officers with years of experience. A repository of these answers shall be available to all the mandir folks and others via the Internet.
3. Hindu Seva Diwas and Seva Initiatives
Conduct Seva activ
ities in large number of mandirs on a single chosen day. Will be difficult to have all Mandirs pe rform it on a single chosen day. How about saying preferably on a single chosen day but certainly in the same month. The mandir community needs to be more visible with regards to the seva activities that they render. We need to record and publish the seva events that are conducted at the mandirs. Performing seva on the same day or the same month by all mandirs a cross the country would be a highly visible event. Organization such as American Hindu World S eva Services should be supported.
4. Software and Web-services for Mandirs
Apply readily available state of the art software technology to streamline routine mandir operations. Such a software automates the entire temple management process using an on-line, role-based system which can be used anywhere, anytime. Financial transactions can be made securely and be integrated into the existing accounting software. Temple Reports of various types such as year tax statements for donors, priest schedules can be generated in a matter of seconds. A central HMEC site could network all the mandirs to facilitate communications and sharing.
5.Training Camps for Hindu Ambassadors
Develop training program for mandir adults youths on essentials of Hindu Dharma and Hindu society, so that they can effectively articulate the richness of our traditions to the larger public. Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have both offered to help with this training program. It is for the Hindu leaders to take advantage of their offer to develop a group of Hindu Americans that will serve as ambassadors of Hinduism, sharing the beauty, depth and relevance of the Hindu ethos with leaders in public policy, media, academia and the public at large.
6. Text Book Supplements for US School Districts
Distribute Text Book Supplements on the History of India prepared by Hinduism Today to School Districts in USA. This is in fulfillment of the resolution from HMEC 2007, "We, the Hindu Mandirs of America: Agree to adopt and promote within the US school system the Hindu Dharma supplement published by Hinduism Today. An action committee shall be constituted to enhance the dissemination and sustenance of this effort."
7. Hindu Mandir Youth Network
Establish a Hindu Mandir Youth Network in USA. One of the observations made at the youth meeting during HMEC 2009 was that it is important to keep in touch beyond just "temple related activities”. This networking will motivate the youth groups in mandirs to have connections with other mandrs and make an effort to take their ideas to different places; create a forum for active youth to bounce ideas, ideas that other groups can use and utilize in their own community and environment. The first step is to create a core youth group of dedicated members that will visit various temples to connect with the youth groups and find out what projects are going on.
8. Vivah Samaskar Manual
Write a clear, simple and attractive book on Vivah Samskar. Despite the fact that there are numerous regional customizations, a Hindu wedding ceremony at its core is essentially a
, in which the deities are invoked to bless the two families being united. It has a deep origin in the ancient ceremony of cementing the bonds of friendship/alliance between the vara and vadhu witnessed by
- no Hindu marriage is deemed complete unless in the presence of the Sacred Fire, seven encirclements have been made around it by the bride and the groom together. This manual aims to present the meaning and the vidhi (procedures) for the core Hindu wedding along with some of the regional improvisations.
9. Samskar Manual for Young Couples
Write a clear, simple and attractive book on the sixteen samskaras, especially as a gift for young couples. For the Hindu, life is a sacred journey, and every step from birth to death is marked, and thus acknowledged, through traditional ceremony, called samskara. A samskara is an enduring impression etched into the malleable substance of a person's mind at a psychological point in life. During these Hindu rites of passage, a temple or home ceremony deeply influences the inner self and directs life along the path of dharma. There are many types of samskaras, from the rite prior to conception to the funeral ceremony. Each one, properly observed, empowers spiritual life, preserves religious culture and establishes bonds with inner worlds as the 'self' consciously accepts each succeeding discovery and duty in the order of God's creation. Religious samskaras serve two purposes. First, they mark clearly within our minds the occasion of an important life transition. Second, they solicit special blessings from the Devas (Deities), society and village, family and friends. These blessings and feelings of love have a markedly positive effect, stabilizing the mind so that the deeper meanings of life can unfold within us. This book merely explains the ceremonies, their purpose and significance in a lively, colorful, attractive manner. It does not go into the details of the procedure to perform the ceremonies.
10. Geeta Distribution
Distribute Geeta at large scale in USA/Canada. This is a program to place English version of Bhagavad-Gita at various motels in the US//Canada. Any motel owner interested in allowing us to place the book can avail this facility. ISKCON's experience has been that many Patel motel owners have whole-heartedly welcomed and supported this program. Volunteers are expected to deliver the books at selected establishments and to follow up at a later date for further restocking. The team is looking to volunteers since contacting, marketing, follow-ups and execution need manpower, resources, infrastructure and people. Sponsors for re-stocking books that are taken away by motel guests are also needed.
11. Prayer Book for Hospitals
Publish and distribute a small prayer book for Chaplains in hospitals and nursing homes. Many people, when they are in the hospital, find that their minds turn quite naturally to such questions as, "Why is there sickness?" "Why did this happen to me?" "Am I being punished?" "What is the meaning of life?" These questions are religious questions. We need a Hindu prayer booklet to answer such questions come to patient's mind so they may find comfort in these words.
12. Health Share Pool for Mandirs
Launch the Health Share Pool program for mandirs. The pool is designed around a population of 1000 individual members to be self sustaining. The team seeks help from Group/Team with high level of commitment and energy to engage key Mandirs and other organizations with a firm goal of achieving 100 members by the end 2009. They also are working on funds to support the team/group operations and require seed funds commitment.
13. Sanatan Dharma Scholarship Fund
Establish a scholarship fund for high school and college students to foster interest in study of Sanatan Dharma. The scholarship is currently envisioned as a one time award. The criteria for the scholarship based on academic performance, community service, spiritual and scientific curiosity. A written essay is required as part of the application process.
14. Finance and Fund Raising
It is no secret that to run an operation such as HMEC requires substantial financial resources. Even with so many generous donors contributing towards the expenses involved, we still need funds to sustain and grow the network. Funds are needed for example, to prepare and print manuals such the Antyeshti samskara, the HMEC Souvenir, for the HMEC 2010 promotion and preparation, Inter Mandir Cultural exchange for youth, training camps (2 weeks) for 10 Hindu Ambassadors, Sanatana Dharma Scholarship fund and for setting up 8 Regional Chapters. Finally, to accomplish all of this in a professional and timely manner we need to hire a full time Executive Director for HMEC.
15. Priest Training
Programs for Priest C ontinuing Education. Priests are principal custodians of Dharmic traditions, who are vital for keeping the traditions alive and easily accessible to all. So far in N.A. the needs are mostly met by bringing qualified priests from India. Qualified priests must be able to converse with the Hindu children growing up in N.A. at the level, and in the language they can understand, and fill the gap which parents may not be able to do. Develop an academic program for Priests training (advanced Diploma) to enhance the priests’ abilities to function more efficiently in the N.A. society; better their stature/status in the society and their profession prestigious by providing proper training and certification; attract younger generation into this profession. Well qualified priests, if required, should be able to go to churches and schools and talk on Hindu Dharma in a manner the audience can understand and appreciate. They could go to Hospital-hospice Centers and provide comforting prayers to patients and the family.
16. Yoga and Health
Message of Healthy Living via Mandirs. Whereas everyone irrespective of religion is attracted to yoga, increasingly Yoga is being perceived as physical exercise OR mind-body exercise with no relationship to spirituality of Hindu tradition. People don’t know that that seminal document of Yoga called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali does not have a single Asana or Posture listed. Yoga Sutras provide full understanding of subtle concepts of Hinduism. We need to promote Sanaatana Dharma through Yoga: Capture the space of universality of Hinduism through yoga philosophy. This will bring the educated young adults into the fold. It will also increase relevance of temple through Yoga. As a part of this project, mandirs are encouraged to call Life in Yoga Foundation to give them all the tools: Once a Year presentation at the temple, 2 to 4 hour integration of Yoga Sutras practice, 2 hour overview or 8 hour line by line discussion of Yoga Sutras, multiple weekday, evening sessions or long weekend sessions and, finally, training of teachers to lead local Satsangs.
Develop a recommendation on which Panchangam to use in NA. People trust the Indian Panchangam that they are used to and are confused about changing the Panchangam for another location. Leadership of the Hindu body should work with temples to help them transition into the use of North American Panchangam. Morover, they should leverage the North American Panchangam to develop Panchangams for the different localities, especially Time Zones.
Publish a procedure to welcome people from other faiths into Hindu tradition. As propagators of Vedic/Hindu Dharma, we should encourage and welcome others who willingly want to enter the Vedic/Hindu fold. Temples should be flexible in accommodating willing individuals who sincerely want to adopt our traditions and educate them in our way of life, belief system and sacred ceremonies. We have to accommodate those who do not speak Hindi or other Indian languages. Therefore, our texts should have English translation and transliteration of Sanskrit mantras and bhajans.
19. HMEC Canada
Start the ground work to hold an HMEC in Canada in a few years. Create a local team and a conduct a regional conference of the mandirs.
20. Annual Hindu Mandir Executive’s Conferences
Plan and Organize annual HMEC conference. Work with upcoming conference host and co-host temples to ensure a smooth and successful planning of the Conference .
21. HMEC Website Modernization -
Maintain all information related to HMEC projects. Serve the community as one portal for information, registration and communication.