Heads of several countries with sizeable Hindu population, chief ministers of states, top corporate honchos and religious leaders are scheduled to attend the second World Hindu Congress (WHC) in Chicago in September, organizers of the mega event said last week. The gathering on Sept. 7-9 is taking place four years after the first such conference was held in New Delhi in November 2014.
The congress is being organized at the Hotel Westin, in Lombard, Illinois by the World Hindu Foundation, a nonprofit created in 2012 and incorporated last year. The organizers said they expect as many as 2,000 delegates from 80 countries.
The Dalai Lama will attend the second World Hindu Congress in Chicago as Hindus from around the world gather to share ideas, tap into their collective resources and consider ways the community can achieve its full potential.
Billed as the biggest-ever gathering of who’s who of the Hindu community across the globe, WHC from September 7-9 is being held to commemorate 125 years of Swami Vivekananda’s historic Chicago address on September 11, 1893.
“Vivekananda’s message is going to reverberate throughout the three-day congress because almost every speaker is going to speak about Vivekananda and his message of unity and remembering one’s heritage and civilization. That is the whole heart and soul of this congress,” Boston-based Abhay Asthana, convener of the conference said.
Other attendees are expected to include Mohan Madhukar Bhagwat, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in India, as well as Sri Ravishankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation, and Swami Swaroopananda, worldwide head of Chinmaya Mission. Representatives are also expected from organizations such as Gayatri Parivar and the Brahma Kumaris, the Vedanta Society of Chicago and representatives of the Belur Math in Kolkata.
Asthana said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the first Hindu elected to Congress, as well as Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) are to address the congress. The organizers have invited senior Hindu politicians from Suriname, Fiji, Nepal and Mauritius, including Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth as well as a number of state chief ministers from India. Organizers said, however, their attendance was not yet confirmed.
“As far as India is concerned, the visit of various chief ministers, including the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat, who is expected to address a conference on business and economy, and Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra, will have to be cleared by the Prime Minister’s office. We will get confirmation about their participation soon,” Asthana said. The congress will discusss even key issues: economics,education, media, politics,youth involvement, women participation and collaboration of Hindu organizations. “The theme of the conference is think collectively and achieve valiantly. We want to do it for the benefit of common good, and the common good is not just for the Hindu community. We want to talk about the common good for the entire humanity,” Asthana said.
Swami Vijnanananda, founder and global chairman of World Hindu Foundation and Jt. General Secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was quoted as saying in Indian media that the purpose of the congress is to “ignite” the global Hindu community for its political and economic empowerment.
With India emerging as a global economic power, top corporate leaders from India, the United States and others parts of the world are likely to attend the three-day WHC. Many of them include those leading Fortune 500 companies.
According to organisers, some Bollywood and Hollywood superstars would also be participating and addressing the mega event. The purpose is to “ignite” global Hindu community for its political and economic empowerment, Vigyananand told a Washington audience today on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Washington DC Chapter of the World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF).
He said the purpose of the WHEF is to make Hindus visible and respectable across the globe.
“Hindus should be the dominant force in the world economy,” Vigyananand said. “The day Hindus — who constitute 16 per cent of the world population — become 16 per cent of the world economy, people would start listening to them (Hindus).” he said.
Noting that some 30 years ago, no one in the world cared about China, Swami Vigyananand said the world is now paying attention to China, because of its economic power, which results in military power and global power. “Our whole purpose is to regain economic strength,” he said, as he urged the entrepreneurs present at the gathering to consider entire world as the market.