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Ontario’s Hindu heritage celebration

Posted in Community, Featured

Published on November 09, 2018 with No Comments

A packed house of close to 3000 people gathered at the International Centre to celebrate Ontario’s Hindu Heritage, at the Hindu Heritage Celebration event attended by leading political figures and dignitaries and highlighted by the presentation of the first Global Hindu Award to Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Member of Parliament, India and one of India’s leading intellectuals and ardent champion of Hindu causes.

Ontario’s Hindu heritage, witnessed through more than 500,000 people of Hindu faith in the province, was formally recognized in the Ontario legislature, when all parties unanimously approved a private member’s bill, tabled by MPP Joe Dickson, to declare November as Ontario’s Hindu Heritage Month.Following up on that recognition, a group of dedicated Hindus, with support from several temples in Greater Toronto, celebrated the first Hindu Heritage event in November 2017 at Vishnu Mandir, long recognized as one of the most visible beacons of Hindu faith in the region. The success of the event motivated the organizers to make the event an annual affair on a bigger scale and the International Centre was chosen to host this year’s Hindu Heritage Celebration event.

Speaking to a vocal and enthusiastic audience, Dr. Swamy spoke about India’s and Hinduism’s great heritage and how they were closely intertwined. He referred to the interaction between India and China for more than two millennia, giving the example of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from Kanchipuram in South India, who took his knowledge of Indian martial arts to China, where it subsequently evolved to what we now know as Karate. Other examples he cited of Indian and Hindu culture’s spread included far flung places such s Indonesia and Latvia. He spoke passionately and with authority on the importance of Ram Mandir to Hindus and the legitimacy of the cause. He applauded the convergence of Hindus from many parts of the world, in Canada and acknowledged the fact the three main organizers of the event had been born in India, Uganda and Guyana. He exhorted Hindus in Canada to ensure that all children learn Sanskrit between the ages of 7 and 11, and also to learn the Devanagari script.

The highlight of the morning was the presentation of the Global Hindu Award to Dr. Swamy. The award was specially conceived and created to recognize one prominent Hindu whose dedication to the Hindu causes and ability to fight for them against adversity is a great motivator to Hindus around the world. Mr. Ray Gupta, President and CEO of Sunray Group became the first exclusive sponsor of the Global Hindu Award, which included a cash component of $25,000. The award is expected to become an annual affair.

Prior to Dr. Swamy’s Keynote address, a galaxy of public figures spoke at the event, Representatives from federal, provincial and municipal governments who brought greetings and spoke to the audience. The Indian government was represented by High Commissioner Vikas Swarup, who had flown in from Ottawa specially to attend and who remarked that this was the largest gathering of Hindus in Canada he had seen. Other leaders included federal minister Kirsty Duncan, the longest serving Hindu minister in Ottawa, Deepak Obhrai, Minister Michael Tibollo from Ontario Government, the newly elected Mayor of Brampton, Patrick Brown and many others. Participating Hindu organizations included Vishnu Mandir, BAPS, SVBF and many others. The event itself was held under the banner of the Canadian Museum of Indian Civilization.

The key organizer of the event was Laj Prasher, who heads the Tortel group of companies, supported by Ramesh Chotai, President of Bromed Pharmaceuticals and Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, the Chairman of Voice of Vedas, with a number of individuals and organizations providing financial support for the event. The organizers expect to repeat the event next year at an even bigger venue, and hopefully every year thereafter.


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