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April 20, 2009
By Jane Tors
A unique Hindu Baccalaureate Service was held at the University of Nevada, Reno on April 11. A Tilak or religious mark was applied on students’ foreheads and the graduating students touched the feet of a Swami or monk to seek his blessings.
Swami Vedananda, a well-known Hindu monk from California, gave a keynote address in which he blessed the upcoming graduates with wisdom from Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita—all ancient Hindu scriptures. Although the service was a Hindu Baccalaureate, it also included Hebrew prayer from Torah, Buddhist prayer in Pali, prayer from Koran in Arabic, Native American blessing in Paiute, besides prayer blessings by Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, International Community of Christ, and Baha’i religious leaders.
According to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who joined with the Indian Student Organization to organize the event, the service included a devotional song, chant and what Zed described as a “unique benediction through the medium of dance” performed by Martina Young. Guests included Nevada’s First Lady Dawn Gibbons, Reno Police Chief Michael Poehlman, University Provost Marc Johnson and University Vice President Steve Zink.
Special certificates were given to graduates with the parting advice to speak the truth, practice righteousness and treat your mother and father with great respect.
The purpose of the service was to root the graduating class in divine spiritual and cultural tradition so that they have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success, said Zed.
Patricia Idler, who attended the service, described it as beautiful and said, “The ceremony, message, good will, tolerance, hope and inspiration bestowed upon these candidates was simply amazing.”
Vamsi Krishna Kamisetty, ISO president, and Sridhar Reddy Anumandla, ISO vice president, described it as a “wonderful experience.”