January 02, 2005
On Sunday January
2 2005 BAPS centers across the United States held Prayer Assemblies
in support and memory of the victims of last weekend's catastrophic
Tsunami in South Asia.
The well known Swaminarayan
"Dhoon" was sung by all those in attendance at the beginning
of the assembly to invoke the compassion and mercy of Bhagwan
Swaminarayan. This was followed by special Vedic bhajans (devotional
songs) that were recited to offer support to those who are
suffering from this devastating event.
With over 150,000
dead and countless more injured and displaced this event has
become one the greatest disasters of all time. It is at times
like these that spiritual organizations like BAPS are able
to offer a helping hand to those in need. The Prayer Assembly
was organized as a medium to offer prayers and support to
all those affected, regardless religion and nationality.
In Houston, the
Prayer Assembly was attended by 22 Community Organizations
as well as hundreds of well wishers, including Dr. Prem Chand
Shridhar (Priest from the Greater Houston Arya Samaj), Mr.
Skand R. Tayal (Consul General of India), Mr. Eddie Poerwana
(Deputy Consul General of Indonesia), and Ms. Yael Ravia-Zadok
(Consul General of Israel) amongst many other distinguished
guests. Mr. Barkley Peschel, District Director read a message
from Congressman Hon.Tom DeLay - Majority Leader of the House.
At the Prayer Assembly
held in Chicago, amongst the many attendees were the representatives
of over 20 community organizations as well as noted speakers
such as Mr. Andy David, Deputy Consul General of Israel. In
New York, more than 30 prominent civic organizations had representatives
present. They were addressed by several speakers, including;
Mr. Ashok Tomar (Deputy Consul General of India), Congressman
Anthony Weiner, and Assemblyman Jimmy Meng.
Similarly at BAPS
centers across North America there was an outpouring of support
from community leaders and civic organizations. In Washington
DC, Mr. Elisha Pulivarti, a special representative of the
Governor's Office, read a letter of condolence and support
for the victims of the Tsunami disaster, on behalf of Maryland
Governor Robert Erhlich.
In Ontario, Premier
Dalton McGuinty paid a visit to the BAPS Center in Toronto
on January 9, 2005 to participate in a Prayer Assembly organized
by BAPS Canada for the victims and survivors of the South
A prayer for the
victims from His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and
an appeal for support was read to the gathered audiences to
seek their assistance in providing relief material and much
needed food and water supplies to the affected areas. This
large humanitarian mission will be carried out by BAPS Care
International, a non religious relief organization with a
long track record in helping victims of disasters.
At the end of the
program a prayer known as the "Shanti Path" was intoned by
priests at all of the BAPS centers to seek peace for the souls
of those lost in the Tsunami disaster.