CAPTION: Religious leaders belonging to various religions and denominations blessing some of the graduating students at the “5th Annual Hindu Baccalaureate Service of UNR” on April 15, 2012.
One of its kind in the world, Hindu Baccalaureate Service (Dikshant Utsav) enters sixth year on April 21 at University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) in USA.
Organized by Universal Society of Hinduism in collaboration with UNR Diverse Organization of South Asians & UNR Interfaith Students Club, it will bless graduating class in the traditional Hindu style, complete with applying tilak (religious mark) on the foreheads of graduates.
Besides keynote address by a well-respected Hindu monk from California, it will also include blessing prayers by Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American religious leaders. Well known musician Jim Eaglesmith will chant a kirtan number in Sanskrit with audience following him in the chant. Renowned dancer L. Martina Young will deliver blessings through dance movement.
Starting with ‘Gayatri Mantra’ (considered Hinduism’s most sacred verse from oldest existing scriptureRig-Veda) recitation by Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and traditional lamp lighting before the image of goddess Saraswati, patron of learning and the arts; it will include blessing the upcoming graduates with wisdom from Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita—all ancient Hindu scriptures. Sparks Mayor Geno Martini will be part of this blessing ceremony.
Washoe County issued a special Resolution to mark the significance of First Annual Hindu Baccalaureate Service of UNR.
Education in Hindu tradition has been deep rooted; Rajan Zed, distinguished Hindu statesman, says and adds that after many important universities in ancient India, like Taxila, Nalanda, Sarnath, Amaravati, Banaras, Kanchi and Ujjain; great Indian universities also flourished in medieval period, like Odantapura (745 CE), Vikramasila (810 CE), Somapura (480 CE), 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, Zed stresses.
UNR, the flagship institution of the state established in 1874, which has over 18,000 students, is known for helping to create the world’s most accurate atomic clock, earthquake expertise, highly ranked MBA program, several Pulitzer Prize winners and for “study of the behavior of matter at extremely high temperatures and densities”. About half-a-dozen Hollywood films were shot here and it is home to one of the largest earthquake-simulation labs. Marc A. Johnson is the President.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.