We hope and pray for the successful passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 32 in the California Senate tomorrow. The resolution would designate October 2013 as “California Hindu American Awareness and Appreciation Month,” and “recognize and acknowledge the significant contributions made by Californians of Hindu heritage to the state.”
The long string of “whereas” paragraphs common to documents of this time offer a brief history of those contributions, beginning with Swami Vivekenanda’s founding of the Vedanta Society in San Francisco in 1900. Vivekenanda was a noted figure in the first Parliament of the World’s Religions, which gathered in Chicago in 1893. Swami Vivekenanda’s appearance at the Parliament is considered to be the first time a Hindu teacher had been brought to the United States. Originally scheduled to give only one talk, Vivekenanda proved so popular that he spoke several more times, including at the closing of the Parliament.
The first Hindu temple in the US was built in San Francisco and dedicated in 1906, and was identified at that time as the “first Hindu temple in the Whole Western World.” Over 50 temples now serve California, 20 of them in the Bay Area.
Since then, Hindus have distinguished themselves in a number of fields, including “information technology, science, medicine, law, and business.” The resolution notes that nearly 10% of Silicon Valley startups were founded by Hindus.
The practice of “seva,” or selfless service, has brought many others in Hindu communities to engage with the wider community in providing charitable aid and support.
The resolution was introduced by California State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett of the 10th Senate District, whose district includes Fremont, Hayward, and Milpitas, all of which have large Hindu populations.
The Hindu American Foundation, a national organization with a strong presence in California, was active in developing the resolution, and is encouraging supporters to call their state Senators to vote for it. The HAF plans a delegation to Sacramento on Monday, hopefully to celebrate the passage of this unique affirmation of the Hindu community. You can find the full text here.