Attended by about 400 delegates from 30 states in the United States and Canada, the Threads 2019 conference, organized by World Hindu Council of America, concluded on Sunday after three days of thought-provoking and captivating deliberations.
Hindu-American thinkers, artists, educators, writers, public policy makers, scientists, medical professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs, business leaders came together on one platform to share their stories and journeys, celebrate their accomplishments and share ideas for brighter and better America for future generations. .
On the opening day, the conference opened with ceremonial Shankh Naad, Ganesh Stuti, lighting of lamp by dignitaries and beautiful rendition of Indian and American national anthems. Dr. Jai Bansal, the convenor, opened the conference by welcoming the 400+ delegates and dignitaries, travelling from more than 30 US states and Canada. In his welcome address, Dr. Bansal talked about how Hindu Americans have integrated into the fabric of American culture while retaining their own identity.
Welcoming the delegates, Mayor Scott Galvin of the host city Woburn, in a written statement, said, “our Hindu-American neighbors have strengthened our community in many ways, including our economy, knowledge, culture and community engagement.”
In a written statement, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito welcomed the delegates as well and said, “the conference is an excellent opportunity for Hindu Americans from various backgrounds to share their stories and journeys and to discuss ways to further increase recognition of their contributions.”
Rajiv Malhotra, Founder of Infinity Foundation, in his keynote address, explained how Hindu Americans’ have contributed to the American society at large. He summoned the delegates to take a leadership role in defining and integrating authentic Hindu values in the American mosaic. He said, “we Hindu Americans need to lead to redefine the American exceptionalism while maintaining mutual respect.”
While welcoming the delegates, Co-Chair of the conference Sanjay Kaul expressed the essence of the conference and how Hindus from all over the world have worked hard to realize their American dream and are making their Karma Bhoomi America stronger and a better society for their future generation. He also talked about how the conference will put a spotlight on varied arenas of activity where Hindu-Americans have shone brightly.
The inaugural evening ended with two scintillating Carnatic and Hindustani musical performances. Young Tabla artist Vivek Pandya, accompanied by his father Shri Kalpit Pandya on Harmonium, showed the magic in his fingers and mesmerized the delegates with a beautiful performance. Violinist Aishu Venkataraman, accompanied by Trivandrum Balaji on Mrindangam and Ghatak Karthick on Ghatam enthralled the delegates with her spellbinding performance.
The second day started with Morning Ragas, followed by a captivating panel discussion about the pursuit of Indian arts and aesthetics in the Americas. The experts from the world of performing arts, culinary, music and literature collaborated in telling the story of their personal journey as the carriers of their Vedic heritage.
In an absorbing panel discussion, successful entrepreneurs from Hindu American community explored opportunities in the U.S. – India commercial relationship as well as the impact of this commercial relationship on the rest of the global economy.
The session on Public Services and Advocacy generated inspirational discourse among three state congressmen and two public policy advocates, with a focus on mechanisms to expand the role, visibility, and influence of Hindu Americans in public policy domains. The panelists discussed how to effectively train, mentor, and develop support systems and networks for young Hindu Americans to enter and succeed in the public square.
The session on Holistic Living, focussed on the realization that individual parts are deeply interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. The panelists provided a deep insight into: (a) how a holistic lifestyle benefits us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; and (b) how consistency, regularity and self-discipline is key in living a holistic lifestyle and keeping a positive outlook and attitude.
The panel on Innovation, comprised of highly accomplished entrepreneurs, investors and eminent scientists shared their own life stories and discussed how all of them believe in risk taking and outside-the-box thinking. The panel engaged in an inspirational discussion about the attributes and the non-linear thinking that makes successful entrepreneurs.
The panel on the ethics of emerging lifesaving therapies and technologies engaged in a refreshing discussion on the innovation in Healthcare. Expert panelists shared their individual perspectives on how they are collectively working across the healthcare system – in hospitals, in the pharmaceutical industry, and in academia to accelerate efficient and effective access to life saving therapies and technologies, while staying true to Hindu values and ethics.
Last panel session of the day focussed on the science of consciousness and lessons from modern science and vedanta. Eminent scientists and philosophers from the fields of physics, medicine, biology and cosmology explored this intriguing phenomenon through their respective expertise and provided a deeper understanding for inquisitive minds in the audience.
The second day’s proceedings ended with a riveting series of 5-6 minutes long lightning talks by 12 enterprising speakers on the varied topics of arts, music, advocacy, medicine, artificial intelligence, financial literacy, and holistic living.
Concluding day started with melodious and soothing morning Ragas, followed by a thoughtful discussion about how a society’s ability to prosper and growth depends upon its people’s edification. A panel of educators, thought leaders, researchers and administrators shared their varied experiences and personal stories to inspire future educators.
The session on philanthropy focused on thoughtful, effective and joyful philanthropy. The experts on this panel shared their passionate stories of how they found their true calling and love for giving back to the society at large.
In the final session of the conference, founder of Canadian Thinkers Forum Shri Tahir Gora and International Director of Art of Living Shri Darshak Hathi delivered the concluding keynote addresses. Mr. Gora talked about his identity as a Bhartiya and how he has been influenced by Hindu values and ethos. He also narrated Saadat Hasan Manto’s famous satirical short story “Toba Tek Singh” that examines the absurdity of India’s partition in 1947. Mr. Hathi while talking about the Vedic Hindu way of living – religious tolerance, solidarity, and brotherhood, implored the delegates to find the focal point within ourselves and focus on consciousness.
The conference finally came to an end with the host Sanjay Kaul presenting the vote of thanks to all the delegates, speakers, organizers, and sponsors.