Hindu prayers to open Tennessee’s Columbia City Council 1st time in 203 years

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reportedly for the first time since its incorporation in 1817, Columbia City Council (Tennessee) will start its meeting on March 11 with Hindu prayers, containing hymns from world’s oldest extant scripture. 

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures remotely before Columbia City Council. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English interpretation 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, will recite 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 plans to start and end the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”; which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge councilmembers and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind. 

Zed, a global Hindu and interfaith leader, has been bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award. Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, etc. He has been panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post; and produces a weekly multi-faith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over ten years. 

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA. 

Columbia, nestled along the banks of the Duck River and whose tagline is “Something good around every corner”, has been listed Top Ten ‘Best Small Town’ destination. It houses the ancestral home of 11th US President James K. Polk and hosts the annual Mule Day Celebration and Parade. Auto racer Sterling Marlin was born here. Chaz Molder and Tony Massey are Mayor and City Manager respectively.