By Partha Krishnaswamy
PEARLAND: On September 10, seventy-five young Hindus were recognized and honored for their strong sense of community, fostering conversations about Indian culture and inspiring the next generation of leaders through their contributions. The brainchild of former HGH President Partha Krishnaswamy to award 75 young Hindus this year to commemorate India’s ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ – (75 years of Indian independence) was immediately approved by the HGH team. After weeks of intense planning, the event took place in the newly renovated auditorium of the Sri Meenakshi Temple. The evening, hosted by the temple, drew over 500 people and was packed.
Over 44 organizations participated, 75 winners were selected and included people of Caucasian, African-American, Caribbean, Nepalese and Indo-American descent. The event brought together representatives from participating organizations, donors, members of the HGH Advisory Board, community leaders and distinguished guests.
In keeping with tradition, the event began with the lighting of lamps by Hindu Youth from Greater Houston and the Hindu Heritage Youth Camp, followed by dignitaries and distinguished guests. A moving musical ensemble from Houston’s youth lifted the evening’s piety.
The evening was filled with ideas, inspiration and practical takeaways. Beth Kulkarni, founding member of HGH and The Woodlands Hindu Temple, highlighted HGH’s leading role in “encouraging and mentoring” young people to be proud of their heritage, identity and place. involvement in their organizations.
Renowned strategist, thinker and motivational speaker, Partho Ghosh offered transformative thinking with his brilliant keynote. His seven-point vision for making the world a better place was compelling, informative and inspiring. He also dwelt on the philosophy of Vedanta, how its principles can lead to better leaders and the characteristics of future leaders.
Youth speakers Somansh Agarwal and Naisargi Jaiswal from the National President of Hindu Students Association shared tips on how to engage with others in promoting Indian culture and traditions and how youth could advance these practices in their colleges.
Interspersed with speeches, a scintillating performance of Kathak from the Shivangini Academy of Performing Arts was followed by a lively Bharatanatyam Thillana from the Abhinaya School of Performing Arts.
The Vice Consulate General of India, Sandeep Choudhary, congratulated the winners and spoke briefly about the importance of the young winners’ connectivity with those in India.
The awards presentations were followed by one of the highlights of the evening – a group photo of the 75 young Hindus holding their awards. The milestone moment received thunderous applause and the photo went viral on social media.
Greater Houston Interfaith Ministry Program Manager Kim Mabry thanked HGH for inviting Interfaith Ministries to the Hindu Youth Awards ceremony. Very grateful, he described the evening as “a beautiful demonstration of the life, art and culture of the Hindu community of Houston” and observed that “the whole program presented hope and promise for future generations on the importance of maintaining a Hindu identity in our rapidly changing society.
The event ended with a delicious dinner prepared by Indian Summers and a surprise 75-course dessert station. The idea for the 75-item dessert station arose during a conversation between Meenakshi Temple Council Chairman Dr. Padmini Ranganathan and former HGH President Partha Krishnaswamy. Sweets were prepared by BAPS Shayona and Bombay Sweets while Decor One’s Nalini Kannan decorated the dessert station in keeping with the evening’s theme.
Tanveer Kazi, a participant, said the evening allowed them “to witness the celebration of the youth, diversity, art and cuisine of India’s rich culture. He also enjoyed the keynote speaker’s message on applying logic and objectivity in today’s age of disinformation.
Anjali Agarwal, a laureate “As a young person, I am extremely grateful to be honored as a laureate of Hindu youth in the community. It is a blessing to see all future leaders of all Hindu temples and organizations recognized as one”.
The meticulous planning, dedication and flawless execution made the evening a huge success. Not only was it a fitting way to celebrate 75e year of independence, but it also aligned with HGH’s motto of bringing Hindus together. It was clearly a memorable event for the 75 young people who were motivated to devote their time and talents to keeping the traditions of India alive.