Council Meeting Opens with First Hindu Prayer

The historic prayer reflected the religious diversity present in Redwood City.

The Redwood City city council was first incorporated in 1867, but it wasn’t until 145 years later that it had its first historic Hindu invocation. It happened Monday night.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture, according to Zed. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

“It is a historic moment of pride for the community when the prayers from ancient Sanskrit scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy of this great city of Redwood City”, Zed said before starting the invocation.

After the Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayer.

An invocation from various faiths is traditionally read after the Pledge of Allegiance, though the city of Redwood City does not practice or preach any one particular faith.

He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Zed sprinkled few drops of water from river Ganga of India, considered holy by Hindus, around the podium before the prayer. Zed presented a copy of Bhagavad-Gita to Mayor Alicia Aguirre, who welcomed and thanked Zed.

Zed, the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, was bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award. He is also the Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and the Spiritual Advisor to the National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families.


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Sharon Levin July 12, 2012 at 01:31 AM
While this is lovely, I've always been uncomfortable that Council meetings start with a prayer. I'm not sure what role religion has in our city government. Surely a separation of church and state means that religious prayers (and wow, can you imagine the furor if they had a Wiccan prayer?) do not belong in government meetings.
Sharon Levin July 12, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I am not comparing Wicca to Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, etc. except as another religion. No prayer is all inclusive, so having no prayer said seems the best choice


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