Hindus of Greater Houston celebrated 9th Annual HGH Youth Awards Gala on Saturday, November 16th, 2019 at Durga Bari Society. Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) alongside its chapter organization, Young Hindus of Greater Houston (YHGH), hosted an event, honoring the Hindu youth of Houston for their community service, leadership, and display of Hindu values. The event chair was Bhawna Luthra, and the emcees were Akash Dhingra and Uma Zingde, current board members of Young Hindus of Greater Houston.
The event commenced with a welcoming speech by a representative from Durga Bari Society, Partha Sarathi Chatterjee, highlighting Nishkam Karma, true volunteerism and the many tenets of Hinduism followed by invocation from Smt. Anindita Roy. A group of youth from many temples jointly rendered melodious music ensemble directed by Smt.Rajarajeswary Bhat from Krishna Gana Sudha Academy in celebration of HGH’s 30 years. Thara Narasimhan, President of HGH, highlighted the accomplishments and service of HGH in uniting Hindus and bringing awareness of our faith to the community at large in Houston over the past 30 years. Durga Bari Society artists performed two cultural programs, based on Mahishasura Mardini Stotram and Ram Vandana.
The youth represented various temples and Hindu organizations in which they have been involved in. The winners of the 9th Annual Youth Awards were Anishaa Potnis, Sindhuja Sridharan, Nilamani Venisetty, Dhruv Patel, Aatreya Tewary, Muktha Nair, Jay Chakraborti, Yesh Dhruva, Kanika Talwar, Devangshu Goswami, Surabhi Kartick, Devesh Kasireddy, and Radha Mulani. They shared their inspirational experiences of volunteerism and deep-rotted knowledge of Hindu principles.
In addition, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty and Acharya Darshana Nanavaty were the Chief Guests for the evening and received Lifetime Achievement awards for their dedication of spiritual teaching globally and locally. Gaurang ji encouraged everyone to study Bhagavad Gita to have a deeper understanding of our Manashakti and better ourselves. He said, “To be really called a Hindu, one must be practicing Hindu. I urge one and all to learn Bhagavad Gita, it gives you a goal of life and attain that goal and teach you how to live in samsara”.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Rishi Bhutada, the Board of Director of the Hindu American Association (HAF). He shared meaningful personal experiences as a second-generation Hindu in America and emphasized the accomplishments this generation has made in different arenas along with the challenges faced. Rishi Bhutada was awarded for his outstanding dedication and leadership to the Hindu community. He asked the youth, “stay connected with Hindu community, no matter wherever you go, whatever you do, serve the Hindu community with goal in mind”. Additionally, Uma Zingde and Vidisha Jain, board members of YHGH, presented about the mission and vision of their organization and encouraged youth ages 18 to 35 years to get involved. Namita Pallod and Abhimanyu Aggarwal, Directors of Hindu Youth Camp, made a thoughtful presentation about Hindu Heritage Youth camp (HHYC), encouraging youth to get involved as counselors at the camp.
The event included a panel to have an introspective discussion on various topics, including our cultural and religious identity as second-generation Hindus and the differing experiences of Hindus from generation to generation. The panel was facilitated by Raghav Agarwal and included four panelists: Neal Verma (Sita Ram Foundation), Rishi Bhutada (HAF), Namita Pallod (HHYC), and Karuna Kankani (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh). The panelists shared the concern of the impact of Western media on the youth and urged the youth to stay connected to their religion and culture by having deeper understanding of Sanatan Dharma. The Panel discussion gave youth the opportunity to understand the importance of connecting to their peers, their culture and faith through involvement in religious organizations and temples.
The awards ceremony concluded with delicious authentic Indian cuisine. The event was enjoyed by all, with amazing performances of Hindu vocal mantras, traditional instruments, and amazing dance performances. People were amazed by the accomplishments of the young Hindus, of their society, and their continued efforts to make an impact on the community. “I am so proud to hear the achievements of these young children” said Manju Rani. “I would never be able to do all these things that these children completed at such a young age when I was that old!” said Shubha Singh.
Bhawna Luthra, the event chair, commented, “This event well-represented the Hindu community from various temples in Houston and brought everyone together to create cohesion and to strengthen the Hindu values among our youth”.
Thara Narasimhan, the President of HGH, commented, “It was a momentous occasion to reflect on the beginning of the Hindu presence in this great city and its evolution over the past few decades. The Hindu youth awards creates a platform for youth to come together. The awardees’ speeches emphasized their creative commitment to serve the Hindu community in the future.”
At the end, Madhumita Sengupta of Houston Durgabari Society, handing the baton to Rasesh Dalal of VPSS. The event was a huge success, showcased our youth and inspired by speakers to follow the Santana dharma to live a peaceful life.
Report prepared by Anjali Aggarwal, Marketing Director of YHGH and Komal Luthra, is founder of YHGH