Rajan Zed offering a Hindu prayer at the California Senate.
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New York: Rajan Zed, the first
Hindu priest, who inaugurated a US Senate session with a prayer, has
urged all Hindus, including religious and community leaders, to
unite for better understanding and more harmonious relationship with
''We need to have
a national umbrella group in this respect to bring all of us under
one roof,'' Zed said in an interview here. ''We have to create a
Hindu identity by which we should be proud of.''
He was on his way
to Nevada, his home base, from Washington. He received an award in
the US capital from American Hindu Sabha and delivered a speech
there on religion.
The priest, shot
into prominence with his Hindu religious invocation in the US
legislature, met with Dr Uma Mysorekar, president of the North
American Hindu Temple Society in New York, popularly known as the
Ganesh temple. He had exchanged with Dr Mysorekar ideas of mutual
interest and issues of concern to the Hindu community.
Apart from meeting
with representatives of the news media, the priest also spoke to
leaders of the Hindu community who organised the annual ''unity
day'' in New York last week.
Zed said, ''We all
have to work together. It is time to do charitable work at least on
days like Thanksgiving when some people go hungry. We should
contribute to soup kitchens and take care of the economically
vulnerable groups irrespective of race and colour.
Helping others is
one of the ways to build bridges and identify ourselves.''
stressed that the God is one for all human beings. ''We believe in
one deity, but in several forms. We have about 800 temples here in
the US for various gods in our Hindu pantheon. And in New York City
alone, there are 67 houses of worship for us.''
He offered prayer in
the US Senate on July 12, 2007. Since then he offered prayers in
various state legislatures, making him the most sought-after Hindu
priest by lawmakers in the US.
''It was an honour,
and I felt humbled about the whole thing. I got good (news media)
coverage,'' said the priest, who has been described by some as the
He said, ''I made
an effort and I was invited by the local US senator. It was a gods
The first Hindu
prayer was not without an incident. Some in the visitors' gallery
shouted slogans protesting the minority religions prayer in the
He studied in
California and Nevada and worked for the US Postal Service, before
switching to priesthood. The Himachal Pradesh native earned his
bachelor's degree in journalism from Punjab University.
He has worked on
causes like the Roma rehabilitation, environment and inter-religion
No precise figures
of US Hindus are available. However, it is estimated that between
three million and four million Hindus live in the US. The numbers
consist of Americans whose origin is in India and other South Asian
nations, as well as followers of Lord Krishna and other
According to Zed,
who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, there are about
21,000 Hindu families in Nevada, where Las Vegas is home to a