Hindu groups for community service

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USHA RAMANUJAM ARVIND reports from the annual HOTA forum

Swami Vigyananda’s clarion call “Sanghe Sakthi Kaliyuge” (organisation is strength) led to the birth of HOTA (Hindu Organisations, Temples and Associations) in 2014. Using the ektha shankh as its emblem, HOTA aims to achieve its objectives of meaningful collaboration through dialogue through two annual events – a forum and a cultural event (held at Raksha Bandan).
Community organisations have taken turns to host the annual forum that provides a common platform for institutions working in their individual capacities to serve Hindu communities all across Australia.
Hota.Indian Link
Coordinated by Vishwa Hindu Parishad, this year delegates representing 20 spiritual, cultural and educational groups met at Sri Venkateshwara Temple (SVT) Helensburgh to network, pool resources and contribute towards the greater good. The event commenced with the formal baton handover by Shiv Mandir Minto delegate to the SVT President.
Welcoming the gathering, HOTA coordinator Rudra Kumar spoke on the vision of ‘people of all ages and genders working together’ and the wide ranging benefits of such an information sharing program, not only in Australia but globally. He also presented evidence on how similar HOTA forums have benefited the cause of preserving Hindu culture and enhancing community service in other countries such as USA and New Zealand.
“Embracing a broad spectrum of beliefs, ideals and value systems, Hindus are unique, in that we are tolerant of diversity and differences. By focussing on our commonality, we can in turn unite and benefit those around us,” Rudra Kumar told Indian Link. “With the objective of enhancing opportunities for seva, HOTA therefore allows us to discuss and deliberate various topics of common interest as well as issues faced in the process.”
Two group discussion sessions were organised – one for temples and the other for community organisations.
Besides brainstorming new ideas, delegates from various individual organisations showcased their rich history and numerous contributions so far, allowing others to learn from their shared experiences.
The outcomes of the day-long workshop included initiating a Hindu blood donation drive, grants applications guidance, community information networking, ways of attracting younger generations for Hindu cultural activities, visiting detention centres, exploring Hindu cremation facilities, priest training and certification.
Hota.Indian Link
Prioritised initiatives from both temples and association groups are to be led by a designated mentor with a focus group of common interest, using appropriate media. An action plan to be taken up and executed by the leaders of each of these initiatives was also formulated.
Earlier, Dr Baska and Nat Iyer outlined SVT’s contribution to community service over decades. Councillor Raj Dutta inspired the audience with the achievements of Hindu culture, other community service organisations and the grand vision of opportunities that lie ahead for the community as part of multicultural Australia.
“It was pleasing to observe very engaging robust discussions and excellent contributions from the delegates of eight temples and more than 12 associations or organisations,” Akila Ramarathinam, VHP General Secretary said.
“We appreciate the efforts of this year’s host SVT, in particular Drs Kanag and Meenakshi Baska, Sri Seetha Raman, Nat and Nandini Iyer and other distinguished members of SVT temple,” she added.
The tentative nominations for 2017 HOTA forum are Shree Sanatan Dharam Sabha Australia and JET Australia in 2018.

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