By, Partha Krishnaswamy
Seventy five Hindu youth were recognized and honored for their strong sense of community, fostering conversations about Indian culture, and inspiring the next generation of leaders with their contributions on September 10th. HGH Past President Partha Krishnaswamy’s brainchild of awarding 75 Hindu youth this year to commemorate India’s “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” – (75 years of India’s Independence) won instant approval by the HGH team. After weeks of intense planning, the event came together at the newly renovated auditorium at Sri Meenakshi Temple. The evening, hosted by the temple, drew over 500 people and was packed to capacity.
Over 44 organizations participated, 75 awardees were selected and included those of Caucasian, African American, Caribbean, Nepali, and Indo American origin. The event was attended by representatives from participating organizations, donors, HGH Advisory board members, community leaders and distinguished guests.
Following tradition, the event commenced with the lighting of the lamps by the Young Hindus of Greater Houston and Hindu Heritage Youth Camp followed by dignitaries and distinguished guests. A soul stirring musical ensemble by the youth of Houston raised the piety of the evening.
The evening was replete with insights, inspiration, and practical takeaways. HGH and Hindu Temple of The Woodlands Founding member Beth Kulkarni highlighted HGH’s prominent role in “encouraging and mentoring” the youth to take pride in their heritage, identity, and their involvement in their organizations.
Renowned strategist, thinker, and motivational speaker Partho Ghosh offered a transformative way of thinking with his brilliant keynote address. His seven-point vision to make the world a better place was compelling, informative, and inspiring. He also dwelt on Vedanta philosophy, how its tenets can drive better leaders and the traits of future leaders.
Young speakers Somansh Agarwal and Naisargi Jaiswal of the National President of Hindu Students Association shared pointers on ways to engage with others in promoting Indian culture and traditions and how the youth could take these practices forward in their colleges.
Interspersed with the speeches was a scintillating Kathak performance from the Shivangini Academy of Performing Arts followed by a brisk Bharatanatyam Thillana by the Abhinaya School of Performing Arts.
Deputy Consulate General of India Sandeep Choudhary congratulated the awardees and spoke briefly of the importance of connectivity of the youth awardees with those in India.
The award presentations were followed by one of the highlights of the evening – a group picture of the 75 Hindu youth holding their awards. The stand-out moment received thunderous applause, and the picture went viral on social media.
Interfaith Ministry of Greater Houston Program Manager Kim Mabry thanked HGH for inviting the Interfaith Ministries to the Hindu Youth Awards ceremony. Highly appreciative, he described the evening as “a beautiful display of the life, art, and culture of the Hindu community of Houston “ and observed that the “entire program presented hope and promise for future generations on the importance of maintaining a Hindu identity in our rapidly changing society.”
The event concluded with a delicious dinner catered by Indian Summers and a surprise 75-item dessert station. The idea of the 75-item dessert station cropped up during a conversation between Meenakshi temple Council Chair Dr. Padmini Ranganathan and HGH Past President Partha Krishnaswamy. The sweets were prepared by BAPS Shayona and Bombay Sweets while Nalini Kannan of Decor One decorated the dessert station in tune with the theme of the evening.
Tanveer Kazi, an attendee, reflected that the evening allowed them to “witness the celebration of the youth, diversity, art, and the cuisine of India’s rich culture. He also appreciated the keynote speaker’s message about the application of rationale and objectivity in today’s era of misinformation.
Anjali Agarwal , an awardee had this to say: “ I am extremely grateful to be honored as a Hindu Youth Awardee in the community. It is a blessing to see all future leaders from all Hindu temples and organizations being recognized as one”.
The meticulous planning, dedication and flawless execution made the evening a super success. Not only was it a fitting way to celebrate India’s 75th year of independence but it also aligned with HGH’s motto of bringing Hindus together. It was clearly a memorable one for the 75 youth who were energized about contributing their time and talent to keeping India’s traditions alive