Hinduism Today annually awards the "Hindu of the Year" and Renaissance award to individuals who have "inspired, strengthened and reinvigorated Hinduism and its hundreds of millions of followers on a global basis." I was so happy to hear that the Hindu American Foundation became the first organization to receive the "Hindu Renaissance Award" on March 28, 2009. The award's inscription recognizes the Foundation "for its outstanding service in the Hindu cause through educating policy makers, defending religious freedom, joining interfaith efforts and bringing a professional approach to all that it does in advancing the core beliefs and values of the Sanatana Dharma [Hinduism]." Hinduism Today is published by the Himalayan Academy and was founded by the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, an interfaith hero according to the Michigan Roundtable’s Interfaith Partners Board.
I first came into contact with the Hindu American Foundation when Suhag Shukla called me – out of the blue, I thought, when I was in the midst of a controversy over the exclusionary nature of the City of Troy’s National Day of Prayer event in 2005. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble, being simply a soccer mom and Hindu American seeker. Suhag, a lawyer and pro-bono legal counsel for the organization at the time, wanted to make sure that I had the support I needed as I advocated for acceptance of all faiths at an event where I was not welcomed.
As my interfaith efforts have deepened, as Troy Interfaith Group has matured (we approach our fifth annual inclusive National Day of Prayer event), so too has HAF. The award is a tribute to their consistent efforts and their commitment to being Hindu and American. I am happy that they are being recognized for the inspiration they provide me and countless other pluralistic Americans to stay engaged even when things are difficult.
A Life of thinking globally, acting locally, and seeking peace internally.