In Utah (USA), City Councils of South Jordan and Draper reverberated with Sanskrit mantras from ancient Hindu scriptures on July five, while Taylorsville did the same on July six and Layton on July seven. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered invocations from Sanskrit scriptures before these City Councils. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages. Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayers with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work. Om was followed by Gayatri Mantra, the most sacred mantra in Hinduism. City Council members, City employees, and public stood quietly in prayer mode with heads bowed down during the prayers. Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Rajan Zed sprinkled few drops of sacred water from river Ganga in India around the podium before the prayers. He presented copies of Bhagavad-Gita to Mayors W. Kent Money (South Jordan), Darrell H. Smith (Draper), Russ Wall (Taylorsville), J. Stephen Curtis (Layton); and Taylorsville Council Chairman Jerry W. Rechtenbach.
Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed said “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he then translated as “Lead me from the unreal to the Real, Lead me from darkness to Light, and Lead me from death to Immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged Councilmembers to keep the welfare of others always in mind. “This is a day of honor for the community when wisdom from ancient Sanskrit scriptures is being read in this great hall of democracy of great city”, Rajan Zed said before the invocations after respective civic leaders introduced him.
Zed also met with various political, religious, and civic leaders during his three-day (July five to seven) visit of Utah and discussed interfaith dialogue and religious pluralism topics and also presented each with a copy of Bhagavad-Gita. Rajan Zed had meetings with Utah Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell, Utah State Treasurer Richard K. Ellis, Episcopal Bishop of Utah Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Executive Director of Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable Dr. Rev. Canon W. Ivan Cendese, Layton Mayor Curtis, Taylorsville Mayor Wall, and Draper Mayor Smith. As an interfaith gesture, Rajan Zed also visited Oquirrh Mountain Temple of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in South Jordan and met with Temple President Alan S. Layton and Temple Matron Leslie Layton. Zed was also welcomed at Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah in South Jordan by President Chaitanya A. Achan and priest N. S. Satish Kumar and presented with temple souvenirs.
Rajan Zed stresses that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue will bring us mutual enrichment, he adds. Zed is one of the panelists for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post. He has been awarded “World Interfaith Leader Award” and is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to New York headquartered Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, Director of Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc. Notable residents of Layton, settled in 1850, include football player Daniel Coats and soccer player Kyle Christensen.
Taylorsville, settled in 1848, is nicknamed as “Utah’s Centennial City”. South Jordan, established in 1859, is the first city in the world with two Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) temples and prominent persons associated with it include speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno, archer Denise Parker, and sculptor Edward J. Fraughton. Settled in 1849, Draper is claimed to be one of the world’s best paragliding/hang-gliding spots. Utah houses world headquarters of LDS. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.