The Universal Society of Hinduism in collaboration with the University of Nevada, Reno's Diverse Organization of South Asians blessed the graduating class in the traditional Hindu style, complete with applying tilak, a religious mark, on the foreheads of graduates.
The seventh annual ceremony, known as Dikshant Utsav, was held at the University Sunday, April 27, and included a keynote address by a distinguished Hindu monk from California and blessing prayers by various denominations of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha'i and Native American religious leaders. Well known musician Jim R. Eaglesmith chanted a kirtan number in Sanskrit.
The event started with the Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed reciting 'Gayatri Mantra,' Hinduism's most sacred verse from oldest existing scripture Rig-Veda, and the traditional lamp lighting before the image of goddess Saraswati, patron of learning and the arts. It included a blessing the upcoming graduates with wisdom from Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita - all ancient Hindu scriptures. Nevada State Controller Kim R. Wallin was part of the blessing ceremony.
Washoe County issued a special Resolution to mark the significance of the First Annual Hindu Baccalaureate Service of the University of Nevada, Reno. City of Sparks has issued a proclamation to mark its seventh year.
"Education in Hindu tradition has been deep rooted," Zed said. "After many important universities in ancient India, like Taxila, Nalanda, Sarnath, Amaravati, Banaras, Kanchi and Ujjain; great Indian universities flourished in medieval period, like Odantapura (745 CE), Vikramasila (810 CE), Somapura (480 CE) and Jagaddala (1090 CE). The purpose of this Baccalaureate Service is to root the graduating class in divine spiritual and cultural tradition so that they have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success."
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world. The religion has about 1 billion adherents with moksh, which means liberation, as its ultimate goal. There are about 3 million Hindus in the United States.