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Nevada Hindu leader Zed opens Utah city council meetings



In Utah, city councils of South Jordan and Draper reverberated with Sanskrit mantras from ancient Hindu scriptures on July 5, while Taylorsville did the same on July 6 and Layton on July 7.

Reno-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered invocations from Sanskrit scriptures before these city councils. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed, who is the president of the 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 prayers 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.

City council members, city employees and the public stood quietly in prayer mode with heads bowed during the prayers. Wearing saffron-colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary) and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Zed sprinkled a few drops of sacred water from the river Ganga in India around the podium before the prayers. He presented copies of Bhagavad-Gita to Mayors W. Kent Money (South Jordan), Darrell H. Smith (Draper), Russ Wall (Taylorsville) and J. Stephen Curtis (Layton) and to Taylorsville Council Chairman Jerry W. Rechtenbach.

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,” Zed said before the invocations after respective civic leaders introduced him.

Zed also met with various political, religious and civic leaders during his three-day visit to Utah and discussed interfaith dialogue and religious pluralism topics and also presented each with a copy of Bhagavad-Gita.

Zed had meetings with Utah Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell, Utah State Treasurer Richard K. Ellis, Episcopal Bishop of Utah Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Executive Director of Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable Dr. Rev. Canon W. Ivan Cendese, Layton Mayor Curtis, Taylorsville Mayor Wall and Draper Mayor Smith.

As an interfaith gesture, Zed also visited Oquirrh Mountain Temple of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in South Jordan and met with Temple President Alan S. Layton and Temple Matron Leslie Layton.

Zed was also welcomed at Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah in South Jordan by President Chaitanya A. Achan and priest N. S. Satish Kumar and presented with temple souvenirs.

Zed stresses that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue will bring us mutual enrichment, he adds.

Zed is one of the panelists for “On Faith,” a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post. He has been awarded the “World Interfaith Leader Award” and is senior fellow and religious advisor to the New York-headquartered Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, director of Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, spiritual advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, and more.

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

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