Houston Hindus Observe Hindu Memorial Day 2011
Rudranath Talukdar

Hindu Mahasabha of America (aka Hindu Congress of America) observed Hindu Memorial Day on August 13th, 2011 at the India House, in Houston Texas. This event memorializes the millions of Hindu lives lost in various partitions of India, and during other pogroms of Hindus. The day long event was opened by Rudranath Talukdar who gave an overview of why the event was being observed and memorialized and the need for increased Hindu activism. The event was very well attended and almost doubled the attendance from last year with a standing room only crowd.

Tapan Ghosh, a frontline Hindu activist from India spoke eloquently about the demographic changes occurring throughout a corridor between the Eastern and Western ends of India. He spoke of the native Hindu population being slowly displaced from the areas bordering Bangladesh by illegal Islamic migrants from that country. He stated that the portends for the future were dire indeed unless this vast demographic change was not countered. He said that Islamic militancy has been rapidly rising in these area and that this posed an additional area of alarm, not only for India but worldwide.hmd2011_tghosh

Dr. Koenraad Elst, a world renowned Indologist and author delivered the first keynote address. He drew on his vast knowledge of the inner workings of the Hindu movements within India and traced their origins and growth over the last many decades, and pointed out that for all their fulminations, mainstream Hindu groups had not really achieved very much in the last 80 or so years. This generated a lively discussion during the break between Dr. Elst and some members of the audience.

hmd2011_kelstAs a part of the occasion, an essay competition for high-school students and college students was organized and the Shri Dwijendranath Sanyal Award for the first prize was given to Debomita Bhattacharya in high school category and Akshay Goswami in the college category. First runners-up was awarded to Aditya Dargan in the high-school category and Abhijana Bhatt in the college category, and the second runners-up was given jointly to Daksh Kapoor and Mallika Dargan in the high school category, and Sejal Lahoti in the college category.

Dharmidner Dargan presided over the session titled “Activism in American Political System” in which an illuminating series of talks were given by three panelists, led by the young Rahul Nirmal, who explained how American Hindus can get involved in American politics, as well as history of those who have and are campaigning for public office. In addition, his speech also provided a brief primer of details of many U.S government positions such as eligibility requirements, as well as how to become involved as a voter once one becomes a U.S citizen. Finally, his speech provided details and tips on how to run for office. In short, his speech was quite informative and provided knowledge to help more American Hindus to be part of the American political system. Mr. Nirmal’s presentation was followed by Prof. Lalita Sen, speaking about political participation from the Democratic party perspective and then by Goray Mookerjee speaking from the Republican angle.

hmd2011_hsavarkarThe second keynote address of the day was delivered by Himani Savarkar, a long time Hindu activist from India, and a member of the famed Veer Savarkar family. She explained how the laws in India were twisted and configured to suppress Hindu’s and their political ambitions. She said that she found that it was easier to speak freely and without fear in the U.S.A. than in India. She left the audience with a call to action to get more involved in the political process in the United States.

Finally, a well known Houson Hindu activist, Kem Acharya spoke. As a member of the Bhutan Hindu refugee diaspora, he spoke about the trials and tribulations faced by Hindus of Bhutan who were made refugees overnight in the supposedly peaceful and happy kingdom of Bhutan. He felt that coordination amongst and between various Hindu organizations was very critical in ensuring long-term well being of Hindus around the world.

hmd2011_audienceA lively panel discussion was then held and the audience participation in this was intense and involved. Most participants showed a keen knowledge and understanding faced by Hindu activists worldwide today such as being branded “fanatics” just for the crime of being an activist Hindu. The session was closed by the president of Hindu Mahasabha of America, Dilip Mehta, who asked all to observe a minute of silence for all the Hindu lives lost during India’s partition. He explained that when there is “adharma” (against natural order) and “anyaya” (against natural law), then it is incumbent upon Hindus to do as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna did and fight against it. He closed with a call to action, echoing the speakers before him. A vote of thanks was delivered to all the speakers who made it to the event.