Various religions came together in community-wide "Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Multi-faith Service" at University of Nevada, Reno to honor civil rights icon Cesar Estrada Chavez on his birthday March 31.
Organized by "Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Committee" in collaboration with Universal Society of Hinduism and University's Interfaith Students Club, this service included Roman Catholic, Protestant Christian, Mormon, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish prayers.
Rajan Zed, chairperson of "Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Committee", speaking on the occasion, urged that Nevada should declare March 31 as state holiday like some other states.
One of the purposes of this service was to reflect on Chavez's non-violent movement for social change and efforts at bringing equality-dignity-justice for all Americans, Zed said.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a proclamation proclaiming March 31, 2013 as a day in honor of Chavez. It mentioned Chavez's securing historic labor and civil rights concessions for exploited and impoverished farm workers, his march from Delano to Sacramento in California, grape boycott, his belief in social justice through non-violence and three historic fasts.
Both Washoe County Commission and City of Reno also proclaimed March 31, 2013 as Cesar Chavez Day, mentioning "...Cesar Chavez adhered to the principles of non-violence practiced by M.K. Gandhi..."
The service featured faith leaders including Rev. Rich Smith, pastor of Reno First Congregational Church; Rigoberto Ruano Mireles, Deacon at Saint Therese Church of the Little Flower; Sherif A. Elfass, president of the Northern Nevada Muslim Community; Matthew Fisher, assistant priest of the Reno Buddhist Center; and Jewish scholar John Louie.
The service also included
- a Danza Azteca Aztlan performance directed by Anastacio Duran
- a performance of Mahatma Gandhi's favorite bhajan "Vaishnav jan to..." by Thakur Chakrapani Singh with Pete Fairley and Tanya Singh
- a performance of the Latter-day Saints Students Choir, headed by Jessica Patchin
- a vocal performance by Miss Washoe County, Chelsea Ann Mihaylo
- recitation of a Spanish poem by Professor Jeannette Nagel
Others who addressed the gathering included University Vice Provost Fred Holman; Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez; Nevada Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce; Cesar Chavez's nephew Ramon A. Chavez; and Zona Allgire-Avila, who was arrested in Cesar Chavez protest movement. Committee treasurer Victoria Sanderson read various proclamations and messages of US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Governor, Nevada Secretary of State, Nevada Attorney General, Nevada senators and assembly-members, Washoe County and City of Reno. Committee secretary Daniel Sanchez presented a multi-media display about Chavez.