Nadiad, India: report by Mukesh Anand
Nadiad, with a population of over 200,000, serves as an administrative center of the Kheda district in the Indian state of Gujarat. Santram Mandir is a prominent temple situated in Nadiad. It is home to Santram Maharaj, who is a holy figure in Gujarat. The seats of Santram Maharaj and the Santram Mandir are important not only for their religious following, but for the public service activities undertaken, such as free medical care for low-income individuals and programs to give food to the poor and to religious ascetics, as well as various cultural activities.
We organized a peace prayer gathering to connect with the SOPP at Santram Mandir on the 18th of May. It is estimated that close to 1,200 people—children, devotees and monks—took part in this event. The entire day was filled with various activities to inspire various groups of people and spread the message of peace.
A large part of the day was spent with children from various schools in Nadiad. After giving them some background about the significance of the date, we talked to the children about the importance of prayer, and about spreading peace. Everyone observed silence and prayed, and this was followed by meditation and speeches by various ashram monks. The activities also included reading verses from the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text of Hinduism. Discussions were also held on how the children could take lessons from the day and apply them in their daily life, back in their schools. The trustees of the Santram Trust were also present on this occasion.
In the evening, various monks and devotees delivered spiritual speeches on world peace. The attendees included monks from Allahabad, the second oldest city in India, which plays a central role in the Hindu scripture. We sang bhajans (prayers) together, then held a silent meditation and peace prayers.
After this, Shree Ramdasji, the present Mahant (chief priest) of the Nadiad temple, graced the occasion. He shared with everyone his message on spirituality and peace. The rules of the ashram prevented us from videotaping him, but we have created a short video with his message and some photos from the event, which can be viewed online at http://youtu.be/r0XjU03A1UY.
I felt that our prayers and the event as a whole were very powerful and effective. Everyone seemed inspired by the work. Next year, if I am still at Nadiad, I would love to participate in the SOPP again.