Tampa, Florida, March 25th, 2011 – After much anticipation, the First Annual Southeast Regional Retreat took place this past weekend at the University of South Florida. Hosted by the University’s Hindu Student Council, the two-day retreat was filled with warm weather, new connections, delicious food, and several in-depth discussions.
The festivities began Friday evening as attendees from all over arrived to Tampa, and checked in at the university to begin the weekend.
Friday night began with the re-creation of a monopoly board game into a slightly modified version entitled, “Hinduopoly”. Members of the camp worked together to reinvent the original board into a whole new game in which all stops related to Hinduism.
Saturday’s sessions began at Tampa’s own Hindu Temple of Florida. The morning session started off with yoga as attendees practiced several hatha yoga asanas, including the most common one, Surya Namaskara. Following the yoga session was an inspiring discussion lead by Pundit Vishnu Sharma, one of the first pundits of Tampa back in the 1980’s. Topics of interest included the definition of being a Hindu, the ashrams or stages of life, and the true meaning behind the sound of “Om.”
The evening took place at Clearwater Beach, 20 miles outside of Tampa, where the soft sands and scenic horizon made it a night to remember. USF chapter president Gopal Amin led the retreat in reciting the 40 verses of the Hanuman Chalisa, a mantra to praise Lord Hanuman. Amin explained the significance behind the mantra for it is said that when recited, one is able to overcome many of life’s obstacles.
The story behind this the Hanuman Chalisa is that the great Devotee Tulsidas wrote the beautiful verses of the mantra when he was imprisoned by Emperor Aurangzeb after being unable to present Sri Ram to him upon request. As the evening slowly drew to a close, so did the retreat as final remarks and a reflection discussion took place. On a whole, the First Annual Southeast Regional Retreat was a phenomenal success, where Hindu youth connected and expanded their knowledge on a variety of topics in Hindu Dharma, in which they will take back to their universities and spread throughout their campuses.