Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sewa Bharati hands over 248 houses for tsunami victims in Nagapattinam

By Ramesh Subramaniam

An impressive function was held at Keechankuppam village in the outskirts of Nagapattinam town on July 6 to mark the handing over of 248 permanent houses constructed by Sewa Bharati, Tamil Nadu, for the tsunami victims. The religious ceremonies like griha pravesh, go puja, vastu shanti puja, etc., were conducted on July 5 and early morning of July 6.

Swami Goutamananda, president of Ramakrishna Mutt, Chennai, first inaugurated the majestic arch erected at the entrance of Vyas Nagar, the name given to the new colony. Very appropriately, a statue of Maharishi Ved Vyas has also been installed at the entrance in a small but beautiful garden. After the inauguration, all the dignitaries proceeded to the stage.

The dignitaries included Shri Mohan Bhagwat, Sarkaryavah of RSS, Shri Raman, Deputy Collector of Nagapattinam, Shri Radha, IAS, Chief Planning Officer of Nagapattinam, Shri Kothandaraman, chairman of Nagapattinam Municipality, Dr Shankar Tattwawadi, overseas coordinator of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Shri Shyam Parande, secretary of Sewa International, Dr Senkottayan, state president of Sewa Bharati, Tamil Nadu, and others. The newly constructed houses have been handed over to the government and not to the tsunami victims directly.

Inaugurating the plaque bearing the names of the main donors of the first phase of the project, viz IDRF-USA, Sewa International-UK and Sewa International-USA Chapter, Swami Goutamananda applauded the exemplary spirit of solidarity shown by the volunteers and office-bearers of the three main donor organisations in helping the victims of the tsunami disaster in the most appropriate way by giving them a permanent shelter, which is a basic necessity. He also praised the numerous selfless volunteers of Sewa Bharati, Tamil Nadu, for helping the tsunami victims at every stage since the attack on December 26, 2004.

Shri Mohan Bhagwat remarked that the spirit with which Sewa Bharati volunteers rendered a yeoman’s service is quite different from others. “Sewa Bharati renders service with the spirit of ‘service to man is service to Almighty and nation’ and not with any other considerations. Also the volunteers feel that it is their duty to give their time and energies to the needy sections of the society,” he said and added that the Sewa Bharati has been successful in kindling the spirit of service in the recipients as well, unlike usual cases where the recipients keep permanently receiving and are never made to participate and share their time and energy for service activities. Shri Bhagwat handed over a model of one block of four houses to Shri Radha, symbolically to mark the handing-over of the fully completed 248 permanent houses in the first phase.

Shri Radha, Shri Raman and Shri Kothandaraman, who also spoke at the function, were unanimous in applauding the brilliant spirit of selfless service demonstrated by Sewa Bharati’s volunteers.

Dr Shankar Tattwawadi said he is very satisfied with the speedy and efficient construction work, which has been accomplished by Sewa Bharati. The entire fisher folk of Keechankuppam and Akkarapettai who attended the function thanked the Sewa Bharati and all donors for their unique gesture of compassion showered on them.

In the first phase of construction the IDRF-USA has funded the cost of 100 houses, Sewa International-UK 70 houses and Sewa International-USA 40 houses. The site of the colony is located on the bank of back-waters and fishermen can bring their boats to the backyard of their colony. Each house measures 390 sq.ft. as against 325 sq.ft. recommended by the government. Many private testing agencies were employed by the Sewa Bharati to ascertain the quality of work at every stage of construction.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

VHPA Condemns Mumbai and Srinagar Blasts

To help the families of victims of these horrendous blasts, VHP-America is appealing for funds from the Hindu American community. Your contributions are tax deductible. You can write your checks in favor of VHPA with "Mumbai Blast Victims" in the subject line.

Please mail your contributions to:

P. O. Box 441505,
Houston, TX 77244

You will get a receipt for your contributions. You can also contribute online by visiting For more information in this regards, please contact Girish Gandhi, at 973-580-8451 or email him.

*Note, the website is still awaiting updating but I received word from them that this should be done within the next 24 hours. To donate, all you need to do is click on the "Donate Now" section at the right hand side.

Press Release

VHPA Condemns Mumbai and Srinagar Blast Victims and Sets up Relief Funds for Blast Victims

Contact Information: Gaurang Vaishnav, , 732-744-0851

June 12, 2006

On behalf of Hindu American community of USA, Vishwa Hindu
Parishad of America (VHPA) expresses its deepest sympathies for the victims of most recent bomb blasts in Mumbai and Srinagar. More than 190 persons are officially dead and the number of seriously injured runs in several hundreds if not more. VHPA shares the grief of the families of the departed ones, and assures that Hindus of America stand united with their brothers and sisters in Mumbai and Srinagar in this time of their need.


To help the families of victims of these horrendous blasts, VHPA is appealing for funds from the Hindu American community. Your contributions are tax deductible. You can write your checks in favor of VHPA with "Mumbai Blast Victims" in the subject line.

Please mail your contributions to: VHPA, P. O. Box 441505, Houston, TX 77244. You will get a receipt for your contributions. You can also contribute online by visiting . For more information in this regards, please contact Girish Gandhi, at 973-580-8451 or email him

Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America strongly condemns these blasts. These are heinous acts of cowardice. This is not the first time that innocent people have been targeted by terrorists in recent years. The shootings in Akshardham, attempts to blow away Ramjanmabhoomi Mandir, communal riots in Mau, bombing in Delhi marketplaces during last Diwali season, bombings in Varanasi, and the recent explosions in Mumbai and Srinagar, all point to the fact that these acts of terrorism are not random, disconnected happenstances. A nefarious design seeking to terrorize and thereby, weaken India's resolve is the motivation behind these acts of terrorism. Unfortunately, the state and central authorities of India have been callous and blatantly negligent in terms of protecting acknowledging the gravity of the situation and actually doing something about it.

The government authorities must take notice, and act with a sense of urgency to rectify this situation. Unfortunately, till so far, all that the government has done is issue effete statements dipped in bravado, but bereft of any meaningful action, whatsoever. It is only action, concrete and focused, which will solve the pressing problem of terrorism rooted in Islamic extremism that India currently faces. We urge all concerned persons to register their protest with the Indian Embassy by expressing their outrage at the callousness of the Indian establishment in terms of its commitments to the protection of lives and property in particular, and national integrity in general.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) of Americ (VHPA), founded in 1970 and incorporated in the state of New York in 1974, is an independent, nonprofit, tax- exempt and volunteer-based charitable organization serving the needs of Hindu community in USA. It aims to build a dynamic and vibrant Hindu society rooted in the eternal values of Dharma and inspired by the lofty ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, i.e. the entire creation is one family.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Statement by RSS

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh expresses deep anguish and sorrow over the huge loss of life, limb and property due to the recent earthquake in J&K and Pakistan. Nature's fury has left thousands dead, lakhs homeless and millions grieving. We convey our deepest condolences to the victims of the killer quake on both sides of the LoC.

The Jammu unit of the RSS has immediately plunged into action and sent two teams, one each to Uri and Poonch tehsils, to take stock of the situation. Swayamsevaks in Poonch had immediately started relief activity with the available resources and the help of the Army. They rescued several people who were stuck in the collapsed houses and secured their belongings from those houses. Arrangements were made by Swayamsevaks in Poonch area for food, shelter etc for the victims who were left homeless by the quake.

In Srinagar, a team of 4-5 of our activists is engaged in helping the victims at the Children's Hospital. They are providing emotional succor as well as material help to the patients and their families. Milk, fruits, necessary clothing etc are being provided to the victims there.

Immediate challenge is to provide temporary shelters and protection from cold and chill of the on-setting winter. We have sent 1000 blankets to the Poonch area today and another 1000 blankets will be dispatched tomorrow to Uri area.

Our teams have gone to assess the extent of damage etc the report of which will be placed before the National Executive of the RSS which is meeting from 21 to 23 October at Chitrakoot. Detailed rehabilitation plans will be prepared there for all the three affected tehsils, i.e. Poonch, Uri, Tangdhar.

Many refugees in Jammu have their relatives in Mujaffarabad and other areas in PoK, which have borne the major brunt of the quake. They are expressing their desire to go and help the affected brethren in PoK. We will certainly consider extending support to any such initiative.


KASHMIR : International Association of Human Values in Action

International Association of Human Values (IAHV) has started assessment of the earthquake-affected areas in Jammu & Kashmir, India and Pakistan. IAHV and Art of Living Foundation volunteers, including a team of doctors and trauma relief experts, are reaching the hardest-hit areas of Baramulla and Uri, India, where the two organizations will carry out relief and rehabilitation work. The foundation will soon start trauma relief camps for the survivors and conduct special programs for children who are gripped by fear and anxiety.

In Pakistan, a team of volunteers led by Art of Living Teacher Naeem Zamindar, is headed for Balakot, the worst effected area. The organizations have started collecting emergency relief supplies and set up a trauma relief center in Islamabad.

The efforts will not only bring material help to those in need but also tend to the mental and emotional needs of those who have lost loved ones and their livelihood due to the disaster. Volunteers have acquired expertise in disaster management and trauma relief from their experiences in similar disasters in the past.
The foundation continues to provide trauma relief camps in the tsunami-affected areas in India and Sri Lanka, as well as in the US Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It conducted major relief operations in the aftermath of earthquakes in Gujarat and Bam; floods in Mumbai and Indonesia; Orissa cyclone and 9/11 World Trade Center attack.

The victims of the disaster are in urgent need of emergency supplies, such as food, water, shelter, tents, cooking utensils, blankets, etc. A special team has been established which is making an assessment of short term needs and long term rehabilitation requirements. IAHV volunteers intend to build upon their existing relationships within the affected areas to bring short and long-term relief to those directly affected by the tsunami. IAHV is seeking additional partnerships with international humanitarian organizations and relief services that create synergies on the ground.

Monday, October 10, 2005

IDRF Appeal for Relief & Rehabilitation of Earthquake victims of South Asia

URGENT Appeal for Relief & Rehabilitation of Earthquake victims of South Asia

[Tax exempt, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization]

"..Relief & Rehabilitation of Earthquake victims of South Asia..."

More than 30,000 dead and thousands more injured (October 9, 2005)
Entire villages and towns flattened across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan
Balakot (Pakistan), Muzaffarabad (PoK, epicenter) are among the most affected

"My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this horrible tragedy,"
- said Bush


IDRF will disburse funds raised to grass roots NGOs in Asia
with minimal overhead expenses
Raju Datla
Phone: (978) 807-1864
Suresh Deopura
Phone: (510) 573-5100

Vijay Pallod
Phone: (281) 568-4995
or Email:

Please make check payable to ‘IDRF’ (mention ‘South Asia Earthquake’ in the memo) and mail it to:

IDRF, 40 Orchard Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876

Donate online for South Asia Earthquake victims by More About PayPal®

IDRF is soliciting your tax-deductible contribution for the relief and rehabilitation of South Asia Earthquake victims. IDRF is of the largest US based Indian charities administered by volunteers without any honorarium or overhead. Thus, 100% of your contribution will be disbursed directly to the NGO. IDRF has raised more than $16 million US dollars for developmental projects and rehabilitation of victims from recent Tsunami disaster (2005), Orissa super cyclone (2000) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001). Please check out our website for latest information

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Art of Living Foundation started assessment of the earthquake in India-Pak

South Asia Earthquake (Pakistan & India)

New Delhi, Oct 8, 2006: International Association of Human Values (IAHV) and Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) have started assessment of the earthquake affected areas in Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan. Volunteers of the foundation, including a team of doctors and trauma relief experts, are reaching the affected areas, where the two organisations will carry out extensive relief and rehabilitation work. The foundation will soon start trauma relief camps for the survivors, using its proven stress elimination techniques.

Volunteers of the foundation have acquired expertise in disaster management and trauma relief from their experiences in similar disasters in the past. The foundation conducted major relief operations in the aftermath of earthquakes in Gujarat and Iran; floods in Mumbai and Indonesia, South Asian tsunami and the recent Katrina Hurricane.

The two organisations express their sympathy to the families of those killed and the survivors of the earthquake.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Hindus in Houston and Throughout Texas Provide Relief

Hindus of Greater Houston

Press Release


September 25, 2005

Prepared by Beth Kulkarni. Contact for more information: Vijay at

Hindus in Houston and Throughout Texas Provide Relief

Houston, Texas. Putting their faith into action and making use of technology, Hindus from various organizations throughout the Houston area meet Thursday evening, not in person, but through audio conferencing.

First on the agenda was to pray together. And in the Hindu tradition, the prayer, led by Acharya Sonarao-ji of Arya Samaj, was not only for those who might be in the path of Hurricane Rita but for the entire universe. Following that, participants shared plans and the availability of shelter for those who might need it. Hindus of Greater Houston then, through emails and phone contacts, spread the information that might help those still looking for shelter

Keshav Smruti, southwest Houston office of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), announced space would be available for a number of families. Rama Rao and Meera Rao of Svyasa chosed to stay one night there. Manoj Agarwal of Shri RadhaKrishna Temple on Bellaire indicated that the temple would be open to those who needed shelter. The management committee of Arya Samaj of Greater Houston made available additional space. ASGH pledged full support in any crisis, natural or otherwise, to serve the community. VPSS, another temple in southwest Houston, opened its facility for evacuees or for needy people to stay and all facilities including food were provided. This facility was open for any one who needed it regardless of religion or nationality. A number of families did accept the hospitality of the temple.

Senior citizen Padmakant Mehta of Houston was pleased to receive a phone call asking him if he needed shelter. Due to the weakening of the storm in the Houston area, he and his wife Nita stayed at home, but were glad for the reassurance that help was available.

For those who had traveled out of Houston and found themselves without housing due to all hotels and motels already being fully occupied, Arun Sharma of HSS arranged with over 25 families in San Antonio and Dallas to provide shelter.

BAPS Care International already had centers in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Bryan College Station and El Campo providing shelters to those affected by the recent hurricanes. In Houston, a number of families chose to stay at the temple, feeling safer than in their homes.

The Hindu Temple in Irving, Texas, opened its doors for Hurricane Rita evacuees Thursday night and its members and volunteers quickly gathered food, supplies, and other items to meet the needs of persons referred to the shelter by the Red Cross and other agencies. Over 200 people were accommodated by the temple. The voluntary services of local Hindu doctors was much appreciated by several individuals.

Barsana Dham, an ashram and temple in Austin, provided shelter to about 150 evacuees from Houston and surrounding areas during Hurricane Rita. Narendra Zamwar who stayed there with his family reported that “All the arrangements for the stay and food were very good. The temple atmosphere was very peaceful. Many children's activities were arranged including story telling, special movies, art contests, chalk drawings on floor, and water games. Evacuees could really get peace of mind after having driven for12 to 20 hours to cover the distance which normally takes three to four hours.”

In San Antonio, 40 homes were made available for those who needed a place to stay. HSS and Sewa International volunteers coordinated this service.

Sunday evening, September 25, 2005, some of the same community leaders that gathered on Thursday again joined a conference call to pray and review the actions taken by various community groups. Working together they were able to better serve the community.

Although Hurricane Rita did not cause as much damage as expected in the Greater Houston area, it was heartening to see the various Hindu organizations in Houston, Dallas area, Austin, and San Antonio helping to provide shelter and food to those who needed it.
Serving one’s fellow man is serving God according to Hindu thought and practice.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar meets Katrina victims

September 29, 2005

Spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visited Hurricane Katrina survivors, volunteers and public officials carrying out relief operation in Texas on September 27.

Sri Sri was invited by Austin Mayor Will Wynn to meet with survivors of Hurricane Katrina, where the Art of Living and its sister organisation International Association of Human Values are conducting trauma relief workshops.

"It is truly an honour for our community to host a greatly respected world leader such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar," said Austin City Council Member Raul Alvarez.

"I always feel the world is a global family and during such disasters, we can learn from one another," Sri Sri said.

IAHV is organising a series of concerts in the US with Pandit Jasraj to support its trauma relief and rehabilitation initiatives. The concerts will be held between 1st and 23rd October in New Jersey, Houston, Atlanta and Bay Area.

In photo: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks to victims of Hurricane Katrina at a temporary housing complex in Austin, Texas. (inset) Austin Mayor Will Wynn (left) and Austin City Council member Raul Alvarez with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.