May 25-28, 2012, Schuylkill Haven, PA - Memorial Day Weekend brought together over 50 Hindu youth from over ten universities across the country for the 22nd Annual Hindu Students Council (HSC) Camp on the grounds of Vraj Bhoomi in Schuylkill Haven, PA.
HSC serves as a medium for college students and young professionals to help foster awareness of issues affecting Hindus, offers opportunities to learn about Hindu heritage/culture, an provides seva (service) to the community. HSC chapters from universities across the nation, as well as individuals and organizations interested in Hindu Dharma, attended the camp.
The annual camps are a place for chapters across the nation to meet, network, share ideas and discuss issues.
“Coming to HSC camp helped fill a void I was feeling all year long when I was away at school,” remarked Khamini Harinarian, an upcoming sophomore at Syracuse University, “After this weekend, I feel complete again. I missed this.”
Nikunj Trivedi, past president and current member of the Board of Trustees, spoke about the importance of Hindu Dharma and the role HSC has been playing to educate college students about Hindu culture and heritage.
Throughout the weekend the attendees participated in a game in which they were grouped into kingdoms named after Hindu dynasties: the Cholas, the Guptas, the Mauryas and the Pandyas. The students competed in physical and intellectual games to earn points for their Kingdom. Attendees also enjoyed the cultural celebrations in the evening with Garba and Bhangra.
While the camp connected the youth deeply at a spiritual and intellectual level, games and dancing helped them connect on a social level and build on the bonds already formed throughout the weekend.
When I go to other camps, it's usually full of kids who are way younger than me and their parents,” remarked Mahesh Persaud, the President of HSC at Rochester Institute of Technology, “It’s nice seeing other people my age who are interested in the same things I am.
Vineet Chander, the Hindu Chaplain at Princeton University, gave a talk on “The Dharma of Dating,” followed by a question and answer session. It was great discussing a topic that Hindus as a whole are reluctant to address,” said Ravi Jaishankar, General Secretary of HSC. In addition, he told the story of Dhruva Maharaja from the Srimad Bhagavatam, and related it to how Bhakti could be practiced in our day to day lives. Camp participants especially liked his practical and modern approach to applying spiritual teachings to modern life.
Kanchan Banerjee, one of the founding members of HSC, gave a history on the origins of HSC. On the last day, Memorial Day, he reminded the importance of remembering those who have fought for their country, not just in America, but all over the world. His daughter, Shoilee Banerjee, led the American and the Indian National Anthems to commemorate the national holiday. This was an occasion to remember the ancestors and great sages who gave to the world so much in terms of spiritual knowledge.
Dr. M.G. Prasad gave a lecture on “Science, Technology and Vedic Hinduism,” followed by a question and answer session. He also led students in explaining and chanting the Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu). Mitesh Kapadia, in addition to leading the daily morning yoga sessions, gave a lecture on “The 5 T's of Total Transformation,” which brought a spiritual perspective on taking control of one's life. Haimanti Banerjee, part of the founding group of HSC, spoke about the life and message of Swami Vivekananda.
HSC is an international forum providing opportunities for college students and young professionals to learn about Hindu heritage through various activities, events and projects. Hindu Students Council was formed in 1990 by three college students who saw a need for Hindu representation on campuses. With over 55 chapters in North America and several HSC-inspired chapters around the world, HSC is the largest Hindu Youth organization outside of India.
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