The unfamiliar sounds of Sanskrit filled the chamber of the Nevada State Legislature last month as Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain, led in prayer to open the session. It was a first for Nevada, and one more sign of the changing shape of the religious landscape in the US.
Zed led with prayers from the Rig Veda, and the Bhagavad-Gita, and concluded by chanting “Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,” which translates as “Peace, Peace, Peace be unto all.”
The members of the assembly stood respectfully and listened as Zed remarked, “Today is a glorious day for all Nevadans and historical day for us when opening prayers from ancient Hindu scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy,” During the prayer, Laddus (a ball-like Indian sweetmeat) were distributed by local Hindu volunteers. Besides people from the area Hindu community; ministers and priests from Presbyterian, Episcopal, Pentecostal, and Church of Christ denominations attended the prayers as a gesture of support.
Rajan Zed is Director of Public Affairs of Hindu Temple of Northern Nevada, Public Relations Officer of India Association of Northern Nevada, and a hospital chaplain in Northern Nevada.