Hindu Women’s Network held an online Conference and Panel Discussion, Sunday March 7, 2021, to celebrate International Women’s Day which was on March 8. The theme of the Conference was “The Hindu Woman: Inspiration through Action.”
The Hindu woman plays a significant role in being the torch bearer of Hindu samskaras and inspiring others to sustain our culture and traditions. The HWN seeks to motivate every woman to achieve this ideal, to strengthen her own family and society and enable all women to reach their full potential.
The program started with Shankh Naad and Deep Prajwalan by Bhawna Sharma. 8-year-old Shree Kotadia set the mood by enchanting Stutis in praise of various Devi/Devatas, recited with perfect pronunciation. Shree is a student of Bal Vidya Mandir in Ashland, MA.
Neelam Jaiswal introduced Hindu Women’s Network and took us through its various chapters and activities. Everyone enjoyed a short movie about the mission, vision and goals of Hindu Women’s Network, its history and achievements. We saw a short documentary of an inspiring talk by Sarojini Naidu during her visit to USA in 1928.
The moderator of the day, Toral Mehta, led the panel through a series of questions which brought out their viewpoints.
Aparna Rayasam opened the event with her rousing keynote address, a call to all women to lead through example. Aparna is an IT professional and dedicated Bal Vihar teacher. Aparna spoke about her exposure to all the extraordinary women in her life journey, and the roles they played in shaping her life, from her mother, her mother-in-law, her aunts, her two daughters, her co-workers, all of whom inspired her with the unique choices they made and the legacy they passed on, based on the bedrock of Hindu Dharma. She talked about four major themes as a framework to inspire: Truth or Satya, which leads one to discover one’s authentic self; Dharma, which helps us set our priorities in life; Karma, which are our actions to achieve our Dharma, and Shakti, which is the strength inherent in each of us, which we need to discover.
The distinguished panel consisted of women from varying walks and different stages of their lives. Toral then introduced the panelists, who addressed different aspects of their journey to discover the potential in themselves, and lead by example.
Swapnali Puradkar has been a resident of Japan for the past 15 years. She works in International finance and is a mother of two young children. She spoke about finding balance or ‘Santulan’ in our life, to use our Shakti during moments of crisis, to help us think rationally. She urged everyone to practice meditation as a tool to help not only yourself but also your family, to help the mind and body connect.
Heena Rathore spoke about her entrepreneurial journey, and how she overcame the fear of failure, which initially kept her from starting her company of biodegradable products. Her mother played a big role in her life and taught her to believe in her own inner strength, how our inner shakti creates our outer reality.
Sucharita Jayanti, who is a student in New Hampshire and part of the leadership team of Hindu Students Council, discussed the major challenges facing our youth, which was to connect, assimilate and fit into the world around them, to understand their own Dharma and culture, their need for spiritual, emotional, and mental strength. She urged them to go back to the basics – Spiritually, to find Gurus who are guides and mentors, mentally, to have strong family units that can guide them, and to have access to resources, to have volunteers who can create these resources. Yashwini Desai talked about balancing her career with her extended family, and with illustrations from her own life, showed how her Hindu background helped her lead by example.
The last question by the moderator went to all the panelists and Keynote speaker. What Hindu value can be used collectively to sustain Hindu culture for the coming generations?
Aparna talked about educating ourselves in the infinite wisdom of Hindu Dharma, to start our own journey of education. Swapnali urged everyone to adhere to our Dharma faithfully and start teaching children from an incredibly young age. Heena spoke about being persistent in connecting children to their Hindu roots. Yashwini encouraged everyone to become a cultural ambassador.
Next, to give a welcome break before the Q and A session, everyone was treated to a wonderful performance by a young artiste, Aanika Patel. Aanika performed a beautiful dance in Kuchipudi style, on Bhama Kalapam. She enthralled everyone with her rendition of Satyabhama, the vivacious wife of Krishna, and made it come alive with her eloquent expressions.
Smita Daftardar ably led the Question-and-Answer sessions, and made sure maximum number of questions were asked, while still adhering to time.
The discussion ended with Shobha Patel, who summarized the takeaway points of the event, as expounded by the speakers: Accountability, Be bold, Confidence, Devotion to family, and Education. The event ended by a prayer by Manju Tiwari.
To view the event in its entirety, please click on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJff4yogi1o&pbjreload=101
Hindu Women’s Network is an initiative of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA). For more information or to start a chapter of Hindu Women’s Network in your area, please contact Neelam Jaiswal at Neelam.firstname.lastname@example.org or Manju Tiwari at email@example.com