31 August :The request for a Hindu opening prayer before the start of next Iceland Parliament session on October one has been rejected.Replying to acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed’s request, Deputy Secretary General of Althingi (Icelandic Parliament) Thorsteinn Magnússon wrote, “There is a long tradition for conducting a lutheran mass at the opening of the parliament and there are no plans to change this tradition.”
On October one each year since 1845, the new session of the Icelandic Parliament opens with a mass in the Cathedral in Icelandic, organized by the Evangelical Lutheran Church (the State Church in Iceland). According to Magnusson, there is no process to request change regarding opening prayers at Parliament. A priest designated by the Bishop of Iceland conducts this mass.
Althingi is believed to have been established at Thingvellir (about 40 km east of Reykjavík) in 930 AD and is fucntioning in Reykjavik since 1845. Under the terms of the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland (founded in 1944), the Icelandic Parliament, together with the President of the Republic, exercises legislative power.
Now Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a communique to Sturla Böðvarsson, President of Althingi, has requested “to recite a short opening prayer from ancient Hindu scriptures before the opening of the next Parliament session on October one, 2008”, and is waiting for the reply.