Date: June 16,2018
The Dalai Lama will attend the second World Hindu Congress in Chicago later year as Hindus from around the world gather to share ideas, tap into their collective resources and consider ways the community can achieve its full potential.
The gathering on Sept. 7-9 is taking place four years after the first such conference was held in New Delhi in November 2014. It will commemorate 125 years since the historic Chicago address given by Swami Vivekananda on Sept. 11, 1893.
“Vivekananda’s message is going to reverberate throughout the three-day congress because almost every speaker is going to speak about Vivekananda and his message of unity and remembering one’s heritage and civilization. That is the whole heart and soul of this congress,” Boston-based Abhay Asthana, convener of the conference told India Abroad.
The congress is being organized at the Hotel Westin, in Lombard, Illinois by the World Hindu Foundation, a nonprofit created in 2012 and incorporated last year. The organizers said they expect as many as 2,000 delegates from 80 countries.
Other attendees are expected to include Mohan Madhukar Bhagwat, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in India, as well as Sri Ravishankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation, and Swami Swaroopananda, worldwide head of Chinmaya Mission. Representatives are also expected from organizations such as Gayatri Parivar and the Brahma Kumaris, the Vedanta Society of Chicago and representatives of the Belur Math in Kolkata.
Asthana said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) will address the congress. The organizers have invited senior Hindu politicians from Suriname, Fiji, Nepal and Mauritius, including Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth as well as a number of state chief ministers from India. Organizers said, however, their attendance was not yet confirmed.
“As far as India is concerned, the visit of various chief ministers, including the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat, who is expected to address a conference on business and economy, and Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra, will have to be cleared by the Prime Minister’s office. We will get confirmation about their participation soon,” Asthana said.
The congress will discussseven key issues: economics,education, media, politics,youth involvement, womenparticipation and collaborationof Hindu organizations.
“The theme of the conference is think collectively and achieve valiantly. We want to do it for the benefit of common good, and the common good is not just for the Hindu community. We want to talk about the common good for the entire humanity,” Asthana said.
Swami Vigyanananda, founder and global chairman of World Hindu Foundation and Jt. General Secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was quoted as saying in Indian media that the purpose of the congress is to “ignite” the global Hindu community for its political and economic empowerment.
Asthana, however, disagreed.
“I would say that the idea is to bring the Hindu diaspora together, so we can grow together as a community and then have some impact and clout not only in the filed of business and economy but in other areas as well. That is why we are having serious conferences on business, politics, media and women alongside the main congress,” said Asthana, who is a research fellow at Bell Labs. “We as Hindu have achieved success, politically and economically, including here in the U.S. but we Hindus as a community are still very far away from being really impactful and an effective voice in the world and that is what we need to strive for.”