Past Activities

Hindu Legacy Through the Generation

Activity: Shakti

Saturday, 29th October, 2022 | Virtual Event

These days many Hindu families are concerned about passing on the Hindu values and traditions to the next generation. To address these concerns, Hindu Women’s Network (HWN) National team held an online Conference and Panel Discussion on Saturday October 29th, 2022, to celebrate Hindu Heritage Month. Every year Hindu Heritage Month is celebrated in October to promote unity, educate others about our rich Hindu heritage and to discuss issues of concern.

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The theme of HWN Conference was “Hindu Legacy Through the Generations”. The event was well attended by over 100+ online viewers.

Jaya Asthana, a core team member, welcomed the audience and introduced the emcee for the day, Krutika Vyas. Krutika introduced HWN and its mission – Seva, Shakti and Sadhana. She talked about the goal of HWN, which is to form a vibrant network of Hindu women to promote communication and collaboration at local, national, and international levels.

The audience was treated to a beautiful bhajan sung by mother daughter duo - Shrimati Bhagyajyothi Arun and her daughter Kumari Vibha Arun. Dressed in color coordinated outfits and in perfect unison, they enthralled the audience with their beautiful rendering of a Ganesh stuti.

Toral Mehta was the moderator of the conference. Toral has been an active and selfless sevak in both her Indian and local community. She is currently the Joint General Secretary of VHP of America. Toral talked about the theme of the event and set the tone for the discussions. But before that, the audience was treated to the Keynote speaker, Didi Maa Sadhvi Ritambhara Ji. She was introduced by Yashaswini Desai, key founding member of Chicago’s HWN chapter who coordinated the interview with the keynote speaker, Didi Maa Sadhvi Ritambhara Ji.

Pujya Didi Maa inspired the viewers by her wisdom and clarity of thought. She talked about the Hindu family’s sustaining principal (Sutra) of living for loved ones and not for fulfilment of one’s own aspirations. From very young age the child in the family is introduced to a Divine Presence and taught to accept that authority at all the times. The first manifestation of that power is seen in Mother and Father. Parents are the child’s first Guru, and they teach values through example, not preaching. The child carries that Sanskar (value) with him for life. The Joint family provides moral support to its members during emotional stress. Everyone in the family has multiple roles to play, but the Mother sustains the family.

Toral then introduced the three multi-Generational families, the Patel Family from New York State, Upadhyay family from Illinois and Dave family from Indiana. Four generations were represented in all families, with the third generation being chosen by all families to be the spokesperson. Toral led them through a series of question-and-answer sessions which brought out their family values and its effects on the younger members of the families.

The Patel family’s spokesperson, Sonal Patel, first introduced all four generations of her family and shared why they decided to stay together. She talked about the values of their family, her own upbringing, how she imbibed the values of her family and how she is passing on those values to her children. The Upadhyay family’s spokesperson was Sheetal. She had a similar experience growing up and shared some ways in which she saw the same teachings reflected in the next generation. Keya Dave, the Dave family spokesperson, shared the value of our culture and how they maintain closeness even while living apart.

All three families described the benefits that they have experienced – in growth, support, and commitment to each other. They shared how far they think they have succeeded in maintaining cohesiveness within their families. They also spoke openly about conflict resolutions within the family, and how important it is to resolve them as they arise, to maintain harmony.

All three families spoke about the importance of communication. Respect one another, be happy in others’ successes. A common theme running through all three families’ discussions was respect for each other and passing on whatever one has learned through example.

Some golden nuggets from the discussion:

"Children want to know why? Answer the "Why". Teach whatever you know."
"Have a few regular rituals. We do Aarti in our house every day."
"Instill confidence and pride in your identity."
"Resolve conflicts through spirituality. With spirituality in the center of our lives, we can overcome anything."

Some comments from the audience:

"So inspiring. I learned a lot from this discussion." "I will apply some of these techniques when teaching my grandchildren." "It is good to see the third generation not just carry on but also pass on their traditions to the next generation." "A must watch for all second and third generation families."

The discussion was followed by a lively question and answer session, led by Shobha Patel, a core team member of Hindu Women’s Network.

The session ended with a Vote of Thanks by Neelam Jaiswal, Lead Coordinator of Hindu Women’s Network, National Team.

The Hindu Women’s Network seeks to inspire every woman to strengthen her own family and society to achieve harmony through emotional, spiritual and financial well-being. Its goal is to form a dynamic and vibrant national network of Hindu women living in America, to foster communication and collaboration locally and nationally in the service of the society, by sharing their skills, talents and age-old wisdom.

In case you missed the event and would like to watch it, please follow the link of the recording:

Do you know your Financial Roadmap? Empower yourself with Financial Wellness

Activity: Shakti

Sunday May 15, 2022 | In Person Event

Hindu Women’s Network offered in person workshop on May 15, 2022, after having virtual meets for two years during the pandemic. With a great deal of discussions on desirable topics, the committee decided to invite a local resident, a professional financier, to educate and empower women with the key items they should know and can use.

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Our Guest speaker was Dr. Usha Agarwal, who has an array of professional accolades to her credit. Title of her talk was "Do you know your Financial Roadmap? Empower yourself with Financial Wellness". Her total presentation focused on personal finance that covered a wide area of financial information. The details provided would be very helpful on how to keep up-to-date with our assets and expenses. She emphasized on keeping these important names available to family like insurance agents, financial advisor, attorney, beneficiaries. She also talked about making ourselves familiar with retirement, IRA, Roth-IRA, 401K and SEP, social security, credit scores, personal will, or trust. This HWN workshop has definitely generated an interest in the minds of women to acquire knowledge in the area, which in most cases, has been handled by the man of the house. Cheers HWN!

Our HWN has always added a fun activity in every workshop. This heavy duty "finance workshop" was lightened by "Art and Science of Indian Cooking" presented by our esteemed committee member Dr. Neelam Jaiswal. She efficiently divided her presentation into "Science" and "Art". In the area of science, she focused on what natural elements the food products are made out of and how they should be handled. Why a russet potato gives a better mashed potato dish whereas the white and red potatoes function better with a mixed setting. Why a Puri puffs up and why the oil used for frying generate a rancid odor after a few uses. Why using a stainless-steel vessel is better than using other metal vessels. Knowing about the heat conductivity of different metal pots/pans was definitely an eye opener. Then under the “Art” area, Neelam, being a super culinary artist, showed how beautifully she serves her dishes, may it be Biryani or Dhokla or Gajar Halwa. Super presentation Neelam!

Like always our session ended with snacks, tea and coffee.

Healing Through Holistic Approach

Activity: Sadhana

Saturday April 30, 2022 | In Person Event

On Saturday April 30th the Orange County CA chapter of Hindu Women’ Network hosted The first in person get together one year after the chapter was launched in May 2021. The topic of seminar was “Healing through Holistic Approach’ which attracted many many adults And senior member of Hindu community. Sevikas of Hindu Swayamsewak Sangha (HSS) joined The efforts by bringing and displaying the beautiful posters of the New Darshana Exhibition These Joint efforts brought better dimension to the program.

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Except for couple of elderly male spouses of the attendees close to. 50 women attended the program The seminar started at 5pm with lamp lighting accompanied by Gayartriy Mantra chanting by all. Mrs. Nayan Patel welcomed the audience and introduced goals and objectives of HWN. Then Mrs Sona Patel a young mother and daughter of Nayan ji took stage as Emcee She introduced the first panelist Swamini Gautam Baiji from Yoga Ashram of LA CA. And second panelist Dr. Ajita Patel ,The director of Awaken Sanctuary wellness Center. Swamini Gautam Baiji captivated the audience with her practical examples to emphasize spirituality In day to day life. She stressed importance of control of emotions by changing habit of seeing, Listening, things that bring agitations to mind. She suggested satang and meditation to bring joy and peace to become king of mind while living with pain and stress in life. Even after 40 minutes of convincing talk many in the audience wanted to continue asking more questions to Swamini ji.

The Next topic “Healing through breathing and meditation was perfectly recaptured by Dr.Ajita Patel Dr. Patel was more direct in bringing the attention of the audience to the daily practice of meditation Pranayam for maintaining Healthy body and mind. Her direct message was “surrender to breath in order to stop million thoughts going through your mind at fleet second. The most engaging part was the Assurance to lead happy life through daily meditation and pranayama practice. All gave big applause including young and senior attendees as they got nuggets of advice to take home from both panelist.

Sailaja Malladi from HSS explained the purpose and importance of Darshana Exhibition which consists of over 25 self-standing posters which brought additional importance to This Hindu centric seminar.

Sheela Kene concluded the program with note of thanks with a patriotic song to set the tone for Darshana exhibition about Hindu Dharma awareness.

She also announced future plan of the chapter to help home bound Hindu seniors in The Irvine area. All attendees viewed exhibition and enjoyed delicious Snack and tea donated by volunteers.

Flow of Hindu Culture Through 3 Generations

Activity: Shakti

Sunday October 24, 2021 | In Person Event

Our first local Hindu Women Network, Orange County chapter online event was held on Sunday October 24th, 2021 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. HWN OC was started in April 2021 by five core members - Sheela Kene, Shobhana Vora, Ajita Patel, Nayan Patel, and Lata Jobanputra. The event was held during the very first designated Hindu Heritage Month in October 2021 and was titled "The Flow of Hindu Culture (Sanskar) Through the Generations (of Hindu Families)."

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Sheela Kene opened with a Gayatri Mantra invocation, and Shobhana Vora briefly introduced HWN. For 3 ½ decades, Sheela Ji has been the most dedicated leader, teacher, and volunteer of Bal Vihar, VHPA, Ekal Vidyalaya, Support A Child, and now HWN in Orange County. A successful psychiatrist by career, Shobhana Ji has been most dedicated leader and volunteer in VHPA since 1983, a popular teacher of Bal Vihar and satsang, and a popular childrens’ storyteller of Ramayan and imparting Hindu sanskar to all younger generations.

Our Master of Ceremony was Aarti Kaushal Chopra, a 2nd generation HWN OC member who grew up in a very dedicated Hindu family, and as an educator is dedicated to connecting younger generations to Hindu Americans through Indian art and dance. Questions were asked by Nayan Patel, a longtime supporter of VHPA OC chapter, dedicated volunteer for many programs, and important part of HWN OC. There were seven panelists: One set of Grandmother Geeta Parikh – longtime active supporter of VHPA OC, her two daughters Niyati Parikh (PhD, Dean of Sales University at Visa, who grew up in Bal Vihar and VHPA youth camps under Shobana Ben. Manishi Bhatnagar (VP in Wells Fargo, actively participating in Bal Vihar, Ekal Vidyalaya, and Support A Child) and her son Ishaan (11 years old), Lata Jobanputra (senior), Beena Pande (Gen X adult) and her daughter Muskaan, 13 years old.

The questions were related to being raised in both the Indian Hindu value systems while being raised in the West, and also addressed the generation and cultural gap. “Which festivals do you celebrate w/your family? Ishaan: Diwali Holi Raksha Bandhan, for Puja, Hanuman Chalisa before bedtime, Jai Jagdish Hare for big holidays, and with my grandma Om Mahadev Shiv Shankar Shambho. “How often do you invite non-Hindu friends to share food during our Hindu festivals or invited for Indian food?” We usually don’t eat Indian food with others. “What activities and festivals of your Hindu heritage do you practice?” Festivals like Holi, wash coins during Dhan Teras. “Have you experienced racism or discrimination at school for being Hindu and how often?” No, my school is very accepting and diverse of all races, me and my friends don’t like to talk about that stuff, we are all just normal kids, and there are many kids of my same heritage.

“Do you discuss any family conflicts with any cultural gaps between Indian Hindu and Western values?” none, just be kind to everyone.

Manishi: “Which Hindu prayers and mantras have you taught your kids as daily prayers? Hanuman Chalisa, I’m proud they know every word! Mom taught them other prayers and our main festivals. “How often do you speak to your kids in our Indian languages?” That one is hard, I married someone not Gujarati so we speak only in English to each other, but I speak Gujrati fluently. The kids don’t speak but my mom speaks to them, the kids are mad that we haven’t taught them Gujrati. Ishaan has problem with vocabulary, and grandma says they understand and want to learn to communicate more in Gujarati. “What pride do you feel about your Hindu cultural heritage living in USA?” All started with everyone who I see here since growing up, and everything Shobhana Aunty taught us despite lack of diversity at that time, as the core values consistent across all religions of non-violence, kindness, being good people, about the different gods and events and important to our religion, the seva aspect, Nayna Aunty you taught us to dance, my mom who keeps the culture into us and Lata Aunty, and my best childhood friends like Seema and all the things we learned that have stayed with us.

Niyati: “Have you had any conflicts with Hindu heritage and how do you resolve them? Growing up we had challenges of being 2nd generation, but we understood the background and found good compromises through our parents having many good conversations helped us work through conflict and for example, explaining us the contexts such as why are we vegetarian. “What values of your Sanatan Dharma upbringing have helped you during difficult times?” Shlokas and formal aspects, but how we are as human beings such as kindness and “whatever happens is for good, even if it’s long term in the next lifetime”, I pray when I need control or for someone, duty and dharma ingrained from childhood to fall back on in day to day. “How often have you experienced racism in your profession?” I’ve been lucky since I’ve worked only for large diverse global corporations, I don’t have an accent, dress in western clothes, and assimilate more, so have been fortunate not to have any negative experiences. “How has your Hindu identity been affected with non-Hindu colleagues and friends?” Everyone has been open and curious to learn and seeking to understand with no judgments or negative stereotypes. We were very active with Indian club in college which helped us maintain and sustain our heritage during college days on our own after Bal Vihar.

Gita Parikh: “Did you do “Naam Karan” naming your child on Raashi?” No, because we had to give their names right away in the hospital, but the paternal aunt gave the name. “Which historical or religious Hindu places did you take your children to both in India and U.S?” In India in Gujarat quite often – Sri Naath Ji or Naatha Dwaara, Somnath Temple, AmbaJi, Daakor, BAPS temples, plus local temples in Ahmedabad and LA, and growing up here every Sunday the local Laguna Beach ISKCON Hare Krishna temple. “Has coming to USA enriched your Hindu heritage values?” Yes definitely! Tried very hard to preserve our culture, religion which is our way of life, values, traditions, study of Bhagawad Gita, and celebrating our festivals and holidays, and wanted our daughters to learn all those to help them have good base for confidence, good character, courage to anchor them, and be proud to be Indian with our religion’s Hindu values. “What are some of the most important Hindu culture values you’ve shared with your daughters?” Tell the truth, respect everyone and their views, other religions, learn from them since everyone and all religions have something good in them, and ignore what’s not good. “What conflicts have you faced raising your daughters in two cultures?” Not much, we were proud to be Indian, and Hindu, we respected Americans, when we came they accepted us with open arms. We did not see racism at that time, people were very helpful, my husband had a very good host family when he was a student, so they were part of our family until their death and they considered him as their son. My daughters were very lucky as they were the only grandparents my kids knew, didn’t feel much difference from their own “daada daadi”.

“Who were your role models when you immigrated to US, to help you maintain Hindu values?” Parents and in laws, taught and supported us so much with good values, vegetarian, yoga, medudttion, volunteer work, celebrating festivals and holidays. “Did you get good opportunity to share our scriptures to our 2nd and 3rd gen?” All the time they listen to my lectures, including my grandchildren they are listening so far and I also listen to their viewpoints also. Thanks to Bal Vihar we thank both Shobana and Sheela without them not possible.

Muskaan Sami: 14 y o high schooler and product of Chinmaya Mission LA and Bal Vihar. Celebrate Diwali, Holi, I practice prayers sometime for our festivals but not regularly, I know only one verse of prayers. Quite often I invited my friends over they love Indian food. Never experienced any discrimination, normal and we don’t talk about it, they don’t care with not much to say. Yeah conflicts all the time, especially how different things are done at school and how my friends and school do it, it was so different for how my parents did it! If related to studying or grades going down, then I say I can work harder. But for sports they will argue with me and give me their reasoning, but we end up agreeing to disagreeing on those things.

Beena Pandey: software engineer manager; not raised religious in India or here, only recite gayatri mantra and Om Jai Jagdish Hare, but my parents have always taught me to do good and be good. They know beginning of Hanuman Chalisa and Om Jai. My parents always spoke in Hindi to me and I speak only in Hindi at home with my kids but scold them in English, and I know they understand everything all the movies and songs. So I play a game what is the meaning of the songs and movies. Feel proud of all aspects of my Indian heritage because of the people who live in India and came to US and made a good life here and I’m fortunate to enjoy the benefit, people know a lot and are very interested. Sanatan dharma teachings that my mom taught me is to accept people exactly as they are when I came here 20 years ago. My mom also reads the whole bible and sees each religion as teaching the same things. I have always been invited and very well accepted here, this country has treated me very well, it has always been a plus point to be Indian. QUESTION: disputes on what culture to teach our kids who we are raising as Americans. Is there counseling for us as parents how to raise our kids and how to justify what they ask or question us on, from boys to wearing short skirts, and they ask us why and need to answer with logic. I’m not the only parent facing this, many of you have handled it and faced it. Shobana Aunty offered to have us younger generations join at her house so we can address next gens’ identity crises.

Lata Jobanputra: successful real estate agent, HWN core member. Naam karam we did according to their raashi by calling India right away and deciding on names immediately. Going to different temples here in U.S., in India- Abu AmbaJi, Somnath, Veerpur, Bhadreshwar Jain temple in Kutch. Being Hindu has enhanced my life because I got more curious and involved after moving to U.S. did Swadhyay in India so it became very important for me to get involved because I wanted to pass on our culture and religion to my children. With my daughters I taught them to respect all religions, always tell the truth and face the consequences. Challenges in the beginning in preschool serving hot dogs at birthday parties, but I am vegetarian so watching me, now they are very strict and my kids are teaching their kids also. My parents were my role models, my father was a freedom fighter and in the Congress Party, despite my mother’s and father’s wide gap of education, they never had anything but respect and 100% amazing support for each other in every step of their life. I teach my grandchildren all the time, I teach them about the gods, Gayatri Mantra every morning and my daughters as mothers recite it every night with them.

Seema – Nayan’s daughter, 3 daughters Sajna, Saathiya, Seva. Echo same as Niyati and Manishi, growing up with Shobhana Aunty – a close knit community of family and friends – having instilled our culture through Bal Vihar foundational part of our upbringing, especially in conservative Christian S OC, then of course reinforced at home by our parents. Now in our household similar to my own upbringing, I have desire to live this way myself, and the kdis are a part of it as just who we are and what we do, and they have come to just appreciate this way of life as “we are Indian living in America”. Love to celebrate Diwali, love to sing bhajans together, om jai every night, do garba, play holi, made possible with other families in our area who have kids and want to do this.

Aarti – feels like a reunion of old friends, deeply grateful to our communities’ empowered “Naari Shakti” of Sheela and Shobhana Aunty, whether we have kids or not, married or not, our internal naari shakti is not diminished. There is a consistency in VHPA women in our identity, foundation, and natural strength from this upbringing and exposure in childhood, especially for me in India. We are equally Indian and American, now must explore our Hindu side more and deeper, because Hindu women are the ones in the family who passes culture on from encouragement from our male family members, we Hindu women stand on our own as our own strength. Need to support one another and focus on youth coaching to make their identity strong, and tap into the incredible roots and foundational work that Sheela and Shobhana Aunties have laid to help us thrive, now us as middle gen need to take over.

Ajita – monitored our events’ technical needs, very hardworking, ayurvedic practitioner, yoga, meditation, pranayama, active in DAYC ashram and in Chinmaya mission, committed core HWN member. Her mother is a strong mentor for how powerful Hindu women can be to fight falsehood and maintain their own identity.

Shobana – those of us who grew up in india saw sanatan dharma culture practicing and growing up all around it and got informal understanding of living every day sanatan dharma values. But when we came to the diverse culture in US, mothers especially got scared that their kids will lose our values or get negative influence, so women kept the values by starting Bal Vihar formally. My guru Swami Chinmayananda taught me the symbolic meaning of each of our scriptures and gods and goddesses idols. He started VHPA in New York in 1973, she came across it in 1977 in Boston. In colleges and universities level, is where students are anti-hindu movements which Hindu kids may face, imp for parents and mothers to talk to their kids about our culture. Main values of truth, respect for each other, ahimsa are ingrained but need to pass on to next generation. No one can put our self-esteem down with our important Naari shakti, especially when something goes wrong is when our faith in our higher power comes in. That’s why most people in India are not afraid of death, but in the west they are, must master the fear of death that is our unique Sanatan Dharma human being values, teach our children we are the soul and the body is the instrument. These social fears will go away when we spread “Maanavta” and our Hindu human values that are based on truth and universal values, not on one person who formed the religion. Grateful to these dedicated Hindu women here to share these values. Communication between the senior generations and younger generations.

Sheela Aunty – HWN OC first event during HHM under VHPA, which worked hard to get declarations across cities and states, and many orgs have become partners to raise HHM awareness. We need to become aware of India’s and Indians’ and Hindus’ growing power globally, we need to know our adversaries and weaknesses and challenges we will face. HWN established with the purpose to harness power of Naaris who have capacity to change individuals, families and whole nations. 3 mission shakti seva sadhana - to empower self and others, social contributions, spiritual enlightenment. Invoking matru shakti, increase self esteem and self respect, create seva bhavna from young ages 1-2 hours a week, especially for our seniors, where 1 million Hindus are retiring in America and we nothing in place other than small groups, we need strong foundation in our society. HWN National had very successful Sept event for “Awaken The Shakti Within”, need more subjects like “interfaith marriages” and dialogue with other faiths and cultures so they understand us and we can counter negative narratives, and help our seniors. Chapters are currently in Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Staten Island, Boston, Southern Calif, South Florida and growing with help from national.

Ended with Shanti Paath.

VHPA announces launch of Hindu Women’s Network in Chicago

Activity: Inauguration

Saturday October 23, 2021 | In Person Event

Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine - 555 Mall Drive, Schaumburg, IL 60173

CHICAGO–A group of 40 Hindu women met at the Gaylord India Restaurant in Chicago and announced the formation of the Chicagoland Chapter of “Hindu Women’s Network,” an initiative of World Hindu Council of America VHPA.

There was invited panel of three women from the Hindu Community who have achieved success in fields of Medicine, Media and Politics.

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Dr. Panna Barai MD from Munster Indiana was the Keynote speaker as she has been associated with VHPA since past 40-plus years, and gave her blessing and message of Nari Shakti to take charge as Hindus in America are now in 3rd and 4th Generation, and there are many areas where women need support at home and in professional lives and keeping it balanced.

Mrs. Vandana Jhingan TV Asia correspondent/Journalist and US Media bureau chief for “Hindi Khabar” gave a very passionate speech on topic of Hindu Women and Media portrayal.

Jhingan talked about influence of media on young Hindu females and what we should be aware of. She talked about journalistic ethics and importance of reporting events not creating news and sharing opinions. She also shared a video of an independent movie made by US Producer which is held by Indian Censor board, freedom of sharing a point of view is blocked and why the topic of the movie most related to the young Hindu girls.

Meghna Bansal, Trustee of the Wheatland Township and a owner manager of a Technology company, talked about importance of involvement in the local politics. Her point was simple “you might not be interested in politics, but politics is making decisions which impact all of you”.

Her journey from India and moving to USA over 25 years back and how she got involved with local homeowners association and progression from there to Local Township Trustee position.

Event was organized Vishwa Hindu Parishad Chicago chapter’s women’s group. Mrs. Anisha S. Shah, Ms. Neela Patel, Mrs. Hetal N. Pate, Mrs. Nimisha K. Patel, Mrs. Yashswaini Desai, and Mrs. Preet Mittal.

Hindu Women’s Network invites women from all walks of life to join this movement and help with community building projects.

Press Release:

India New England News : Hindu Women’s Network Launched in Chicago

News India Times : Vishwa Hindu Parishad announces launch of Hindu Women’s Network in Chicago

HWN Activity Mar 07, 2021

Awaken the Shakti Within

Activity: Durga

Sunday October 3, 2021 | Virtual Event

Seeks to inspire every woman to strengthen her own family and society to achieve harmony through emotional, spriritual and financial well-being.

To form a dynamic and vibrant national network of Hindu women living in America, to foster communication and collaboration locally and nationally in the service of the society, by sharing theri skills, talents and age-old wisdom.

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HWN Activity Mar 07, 2021

The Hindu Women: Inspiration Through Action

Activity: Shakti

Sunday March 7, 2021 | Chapter: National

Hindu Women’s Network held an online Conference and Panel Discussion, Sunday March 7, 2021, to celebrate International Women’s Day which was on March 8. The theme of the Conference was “The Hindu Woman: Inspiration through Action.” The Hindu woman plays a significant role in being the torch bearer of Hindu samskaras and inspiring others to sustain our culture and traditions. The HWN seeks to motivate every woman to achieve this ideal, to strengthen her own family and society and enable all women to reach their full potential.

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HWN Activity Mar 07, 2021

The program started with Shankh Naad and Deep Prajwalan by Bhawna Sharma. 8-year-old Shree Kotadia set the mood by enchanting Stutis in praise of various Devi/Devatas, recited with perfect pronunciation. Shree is a student of Bal Vidya Mandir in Ashland, MA. Neelam Jaiswal introduced Hindu Women’s Network and took us through its various chapters and activities. Everyone enjoyed a short movie about the mission, vision and goals of Hindu Women’s Network, its history and achievements. We saw a short documentary of an inspiring talk by Sarojini Naidu during her visit to USA in 1928. The moderator of the day, Toral Mehta, led the panel through a series of questions which brought out their viewpoints.

Aparna Rayasam opened the event with her rousing keynote address, a call to all women to lead through example. Aparna is an IT professional and dedicated Bal Vihar teacher. Aparna spoke about her exposure to all the extraordinary women in her life journey, and the roles they played in shaping her life, from her mother, her mother-in-law, her aunts, her two daughters, her co-workers, all of whom inspired her with the unique choices they made and the legacy they passed on, based on the bedrock of Hindu Dharma. She talked about four major themes as a framework to inspire: Truth or Satya, which leads one to discover one’s authentic self; Dharma, which helps us set our priorities in life; Karma, which are our actions to achieve our Dharma, and Shakti, which is the strength inherent in each of us, which we need to discover.

The distinguished panel consisted of women from varying walks and different stages of their lives. Toral Mehta then introduced the panelists, who addressed different aspects of their journey to discover the potential in themselves, and lead by example.

Swapnali Puradkar has been a resident of Japan for the past 15 years. She works in International finance and is a mother of two young children. She spoke about finding balance or ‘Santulan’ in our life, to use our Shakti during moments of crisis, to help us think rationally. She urged everyone to practice meditation as a tool to help not only yourself but also your family, to help the mind and body connect.

Heena Rathore spoke about her entrepreneurial journey, and how she overcame the fear of failure, which initially kept her from starting her company of biodegradable products. Her mother played a big role in her life and taught her to believe in her own inner strength, how our inner shakti creates our outer reality. Sucharita Jayanti, who is a student in New Hampshire and part of the leadership team of Hindu Students Council, discussed the major challenges facing our youth, which was to connect, assimilate and fit into the world around them, to understand their own Dharma and culture, their need for spiritual, emotional, and mental strength. She urged them to go back to the basics - Spiritually, to find Gurus who are guides and mentors, mentally, to have strong family units that can guide them, and to have access to resources, to have volunteers who can create these resources.

Yashwini Desai talked about balancing her career with her extended family, and with illustrations from her own life, showed how her Hindu background helped her lead by example.

The last question by the moderator went to all the panelists and Keynote speaker. What Hindu value can be used collectively to sustain Hindu culture for the coming generations?

Aparna talked about educating ourselves in the infinite wisdom of Hindu Dharma, to start our own journey of education. Swapnali urged everyone to adhere to our Dharma faithfully and start teaching children from an incredibly young age. Heena spoke about being persistent in connecting children to their Hindu roots. Yashwini encouraged everyone to become a cultural ambassador.

Next, to give a welcome break before the Q and A session, everyone was treated to a wonderful performance by a young artiste, Aanika Patel. Aanika performed a beautiful dance in Kuchipudi style, on Bhama Kalapam. She enthralled everyone with her rendition of Satyabhama, the vivacious wife of Krishna, and made it come alive with her eloquent expressions.

Smita Daftardar ably led the Question-and-Answer sessions, and made sure maximum number of questions were asked, while still adhering to time. The discussion ended with Shobha Patel, who summarized the takeaway points of the event, as expounded by the speakers: Accountability, Be bold, Confidence, Devotion to family, and Education.

The event ended by a prayer by Manju Tiwari.

Hindu Women’s Network is an initiative of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA).

Hindu Women in Politics — Way to Empower Our Future

Activity: Shakti

Sunday July 12, 2020 | Chapter: Cincinnati

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Past Activity - Sunday July 12, 2020

To commemorate the centenary of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote, HWN, in a virtual session, under the leadership of Renu Gupta, invited Mrs. Padma Kuppa , Michigan State House Representatives, District 41, to enlighten us with her experiences as a successful politician. Padma’s cheerful persona and her eloquent delivery made her speech mesmerizing. It also reflected her passion towards the career that she has chosen to follow. Padma presented herself as a confident, and determined individual, as well as a sheer empowered woman, who has the strength to fight, against all odds, for what she believes in. This virtual session, was attended by 36 women. If we look at the comments that were received, we notice that everybody was appreciative of the opportunity HWN has given them by hosting Padma. What a fantastic complement for HWN! Thanks, Renu ! It was a wonderful idea. Our guests also enjoyed asking Padma questions.

Padma was asked what her moment of awakening was. She said that her call to politics came when the public school system in the State of Michigan faced challenges getting funding, against the charter schools. As a youngster, she went to a public school, where she says “she learnt the fundamental values of democracy: freedom, opportunity and representation.” She strongly believes that an education system should encourage holistic development of each child, teaching all the skills a child needs to function confidently in the 21st century. Padma tried to call all public officials to tell them her reason to support the Public School system. However, her effort was fruitless. There wasn’t anyone to listen to a non office holder. That is when she decided to find a way to be heard; joining politics gave her that scope. She was focused. She was determined to make herself heard. She was not going to give up.

The next question was, if Padma had a mentor and if she has the desire to mentor anyone. With a proud smile Padma mentioned that her mother was her mentor. Her mother’s strength of character has influenced her to a great extent. It is her mother who has encouraged her to stand up for herself and follow what she believes in. Padma proudly mentioned that she appoints interns, Asian Americans, even Hindus, who are students and looking for summer work or finishing required course work for their graduate or under graduate studies. She said that she has the highest number of interns working with her.

The next question was what Padma is going to address in her new term. She said that she will continue supporting public school education system, protect the environment and develop infrastructure in Michigan. So far as the environment is concerned, global warming, climate change and their effects will take priority. She mentioned a “Bhoomi Project” that she is working on which involves Hindu Response to climate change. According to Padma , if all the Indian dancers are seeking forgiveness from Mother Earth before starting their dance performances, why can’t every individual take care of Mother Earth who provides them with all the ingredients for their survival. She ncourages all “Hindus” to show bhakti and dedication towards our planet. She also mentioned that infrastructure development is a part of her agenda. She wants to beautify her constituency so that people will be attracted to Michigan.

When she was asked how she wants to get women to vote, Padma laid out a number of women’s organizations that she is associated with. She has always worked with women’s health issues, and actively lobbied for the benefit of women. She is confident that she will get their support. Moreover, she is in touch with all women leaders who will definitely help her getting women’s vote.

Padma was asked, next, what she has overcome as an Indian woman and what she is doing so that her voice can be heard. Padma said that after 9/11 when people were looking at all brown skins with a questionable eye, and again people with brown skins w ere getting racially profiled at airports, she joined the Ethnic Issues Advisory Board. She also got on the board of Michigan Rou nd Table, a nationwide organization that deals with diversity and inclusion. She learnt that diversity is about counting people and inclusion is sitting at a table where your voice might not have any weight. Even then, in Padma’s opinion, don’t deviate from th edoctrine “Basudeva Kutumbakam ”, “Love thy neighbours”. Continue giving. You will definitely get back. Giving a very honest answer she said that many times she also feels that her inputs are over looked. Her suggestion is to find one person who might be supportive. Have one on one interaction.

The fact that Padma dressed in a saree at her oath taking, was appreciated by an attendee. The word of appreciation was follo wed by asking about her views regarding the Diwali postage stamp. She, as a proud Indian, showed her great liking by narrating how she has initiated a Diwali Reception at the Governor’s palace, making them understand that celebrating a festival of another culture shows their inclusiveness. She suggested that we can reach out to our city officials, and ask them to recognize our temple and our festival, “Diwali”. We should try to make them understand that we are the same human beings who want to live peacefully, nurturing the same “American Dreams” like everyone else. That is how we can honor the idea of a Diwali stamp.

Our own Nari Shakti, Shobha, asked the most valuable question, “What are the biases among our Indian community that are bringing real diversity in America”? Padma very clearly mentioned that we, ourselves, create the diversity. She quotes her mother’s words “we can’t change other’s actions but we can change our reactions” and says that it might have hindered her confidence. In other words, our own tendency, our attitude towards our traditional values might be the culprit. Padma mentioned that not eno ugh women come forward to work outside of their comfort zone. They don’t have to hide behind any one. They should be proud of who they are, what they are. They should be proud of their identity. In her opinion, women should be politically engaged, should be engaged in activism and advocacy. Women should take charge of their lives, not give it to someone else to handle.

Another Nari Shakti who wanted inputs from Padma was Kalpana, who presented certain issues she is noticing amongst today’s youth. Young kids are facing difficulties managing two cultures: their parent’s culture and the culture they are living in. Kalpana’s question was how to help them. In response, Padma narrated events in her own life. She went back to India at the age of 15. She was unhappy. She was shattered. Her solace was going to temple with her grandmother, practicing yoga, meditating, and doing charity work. Padma’s advice to Kalpana was to tell the youth in question to live beyond themselves. Reach out to others; help a needy. Only when one thinks about others, does one think less about oneself.

Internalizing everything Padma said makes me feel that she is a true Nari Shakti. She is a truly empowered woman who has the SHAKTI, or she has acquired Shakti through effort and dedication. She has the desire to do SEVA, contributing in the best possible manner to the country that she calls her home. She has SADHANA as she is putting in continuous efforts to achieve the best possible results.

Compiled by Itishree Panda.

Your Greatest Wealth is your Health "आरोग्यम धन सम्पदा"

Activity: Shakti

Sunday May 5, 2019 | Chapter: Cincinnati

HWN of Cincinnati had a workshop on “Your Greatest Wealth is your Health “आरोग्यम धन सम्पदा” led by a female physician. Followed by another talk on “Your Health ID on Your Hands: Acutherapy” by an acutherapy expert from Bharat

Workshop Agenda:

  • Your Greatest Wealth is Your Health - Led by Dr. Chandan Gupta MD - UC Health Women's Center
  • Your Health is On Your Hands - Led by Parul Agrawal - Professor Accupressure Sanstan, Allahabad
  • Laughter is the Best Medicine - Laughing Yoga
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Past Activity - July 10, 2021

Step Back to Move Forward & Finnancial Planning

Activity: Shakti

Saturday July 29, 2017 | Chapter: Atlanta

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Past Activity - Feb 27, 2016

Past Activity - July 29, 2017

Financial Wellness & Natural Health

Activity: Shakti

Saturday February 27, 2016 | Chapter: Atlanta

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Past Activity - Feb 27, 2016

Past Activity - Feb 27, 2016

Empowering Ourselves to the State of Balance

Activity: Sadhana

Saturday July 10, 2021 | Chapter: Cincinnati

HWN workshop on 10 July, 2021 had two speakers. The first was by Uma Mullapudi and the second was by Renu Gupta.

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Past Activity - July 10, 2021

Uma’s talk was about “Empowering women to come to a state of balance”. Life can be expressed from the state of our heart and if the state of our heart is balanced, life can be beautiful, life can be a celebration with joy, love, respect and reverence. In other words, to make our life joyful, we need to establish an inner balance or as it is mentioned By Sri Krishna in Bhagvat Gita, we need to establish a state of “STITHA PRAGYAN”. Bhagvat Gita teaches us skill in action, so that our actions can be perfect and that requires us to keep our mind balanced. Heartfulness is all about arriving at a state of balance of mind. This balance of mind can be achieved by reflecting and understanding our mind and bringing it into the energy field of our heart, where the divine exists. In the process we resonate the divine vibration of the heart: love, in our mind. Meditation is the way to touch this sense of vibration.

Living in this challenging world, our mind is much too disturbed to reach our heart. To achieve a balance, we need to bring our mind to the heart’s field, get rejuvenated and arrive at a state of balance

According to Harvard Research, Balance of mind is triggered by exercise, meditation and prayer: body, mind and spirit. We all take care of our body by eating right, by staying active but still after a night’s sleep, we feel tired. This happens because if our mind is tired, our body stays tired. We all have adopted different spiritual beliefs. In reality, if our mind is not clear to adopt to certain believes, we can’t do justice to our spiritual aspirations and feel divinity. Our mind pulls ourselves to different directions and we fail to get rid of the disturbed thoughts. Our emotions, anxiety, anger, frustrations take over. We fail to bring our mind to a state of silence. Therefore, to have a healthy body and a successful spiritual practice, we need a well- balanced mind. However, mind doesn’t function effectively without maintenance. That maintenance is meditation. Meditation is bringing the mind that is continuously going outward, come inward, into the heart’s field.

According to a neuroscience research, if one can be in a simple state of silence, may be even 20 minutes a day, the frontal brain, which is all about balance, emotional stability, and creativity, regenerates new cells and enhances its function. We can’t be creative if our state of being is disturbed. Our Upanishads also propagate silence and they depict silence as Om. Krishna has said when you reach your heart, your mind is stable and your action gets perfect. Gradually, you achieve a sense of purity.

Our scientists are trying to do research to make our physical life better. The ancient Rishis have tried to experiment on themselves, and reached within. For example, Patanjali describes the science of Yoga, a state of balance. According to him, when we follow Yama: nonviolence, Niyama: rules of righteousness, asana: posture, pranayama: breathing, pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses, dharana: awareness through pratyahara, dhyana: focused awareness, we achieve Samadhi, a state of absolute balance. He talks about Samadhi which is a complete state of balance that we need to arrive at. When we go deep and search within ourselves, we find peace, we find balance. This state of balance is our VIVEKA, power of discrimination, following which our action gets perfect. The followers of Patanjali are trying to encourage the common man to understand and follow a process to reach within and lead a pure life.

How to arrive at this samadhi?
Heart fullness institute has rediscovered certain techniques that existed in ancient India. It is called “Pranahuti”. Give food to the inner-self, the inner vibration of love. To do that, the first step is--- Relaxation…. Relax the body using the commands of the mind. Second step is to meditate, take focus inward… go within. Feel the vibrations. Let the awareness observe the insight, the sacredness that is within us.

In the second presentation Renu Gupta introduced us to an empowered woman, Anjalee Bahen Pandya who, in spite of all the challenges that she had to face, left a mark. She is one of the Nari Shakti who flourished around us. She was an acclaimed soul who managed to pick herself up from the worst devastation of losing a husband at the young age of 20 that too left to take care of a two years old in a foreign land. With the help of her close relatives, she came to her public life, became an editor, a graphic designer, and eventually the general secretary of VHPA. She was an excellent organizer. She Organized the world VHPA conferences, mobilized 108 priests from India to the USA under UN charter and excelled as a confident member of VHPA. Anjalee Pandya, the sari clad woman, with her pleasant, simple personality was an asset in making VHPA visions successful. It is sad that she gave up her life to Cancer.

Anjalee Bahen Pandya is an inspiration to one and all.

Summary complied by: Itishree Panda.

Hindu Women’s Network is an initiative of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA).

Think Right No Matter What

Activity: Sadhana

Sunday August 09, 2020 | Chapter: Cincinnati

HWN workshop on 09 August, 2020

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Past Activity - August 09, 2020

Learning From Five Elements: (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Akash)

Activity: Sadhana

Sunday Oct 5, 2019 | Chapter: Cincinnati

HWN of Cincinnati had a workshop on "Learning From Five Elements: (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Akash)" led by BK - Shubhra Goyal. Followed by Another Session on "Eyes are Windows to the World" - Beauty Tips to Care for Our Eyes.

Workshop Agenda:

  • Learning From Five Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Space - Led by BK Shubhra Goyal
  • Our Eyes - Windows to the World: Beauty Tips to Care for Eyes! - Led by Beautician Sonal Modi
  • Fun Activity - Led by Shobha Patel
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Past Activity - July 10, 2021

COVID-19 Seva in Cincinnati, OH, USA

Activity: Seva

Chapter: Cincinnati

Hindu Women’s Network (HWN) of Cincinnati has donated funds to Lakota Reach Out agency.

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Hindu Women’s Network (HWN) of Cincinnati has donated funds to Lakota Reach Out agency. Lakota Reach Out is a non- profit agency, providing helping hands to those living in West Chester and Liberty Township in Ohio by putting help and hope into the hands of the community. They distribute both fresh and canned food to the needy families through their food pantry. Their goal is to provide support in a way that is both dignified for clients and cost efficient for donors. Due to Covid-19 outbreak, there are many families who are laid off from work and they have been coming to their food pantry first time in their lives. Reach Out Lakota, bridge the gap between today and tomorrow. HWN decided to buy food for their pantry so the needy families and their children can get food twice a month from them. They have huge demand and they are only able to serve families once or twice a month.

Face Mask Distribution in Cincinnati, OH, USA

Activity: Seva

April 2020 | Chapter: Cincinnati

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In April 2020, Neelam Jaiswal took the initiative of forming a team of members of Hindu Women’s Network, part of the Cincinnati chapter, for making and distributing face masks to fight off Covid-19 virus pandemic. She and Avisha Gulrajani, Manjul Gupta and Rita Singla made more than 500 face masks and distributed it to a TriHealth hospital, doctors’ offices and neighbors.

Food Drive in Cincinnati, OH, USA

Activity: Seva

Chapter: Cincinnati

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During this pandemic time Kalpana Parikh of Hindu Women’s Network, Cincinnati Chapter and her husband Ashwin Parikh, President of Jain Temple, organized a successful food drive and collected food items worth $700 for Lakota School District which is providing free groceries to the needy families as the schools were closed due to Covid-19 crisis.

Helping a Woman in Need in Cincinnati, OH, USA

Activity: Seva

Chapter: Cincinnati

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Hindu Women’s Network, Cincinnati Chapter has been providing financial and other help to a young woman abandoned by her husband who also took her young child away from her. She has no family so she lives in a shelter home. With Ekal/VHPA Chapter’s help she is fighting for her right to see her child. Renu Gupta and Dr. Nalini Tandon are coordinating this seva activity. They are in regular contact with the victim. The chapter also raised $4000 + in cash donation to help in legal expenses.

Seva performed by Hindu Women’s Network (HWN) of Cincinnati at Nursing Home of Butler County Care Facility, Hamilton, OH

Activity: Seva

Chapter: Cincinnati

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Butler County Care Facility is a professional care community in a quiet residential area of Hamilton, OH. This property offers individualized rehab services. Volunteers from HWN of Cincinnati go there once a month to celebrate residents’ birthday by providing cake, ice-cream, cards, balloons as well as spending quality time with them. Residents enjoy celebrating their birthdays as so many don’t have loved one living close to them. Some residents have never met people from India and they feel loved and cared by kindness of volunteers visiting them. So far it has been a very successful program from last five years.

Hindu Women’s Conference Highlights Women’s Life Journey through Hindu Perspective

Activity: Shakti

Saturday February 29, 2020 | Chapter: Atlanta

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Past Activity - Feb 27, 2016

By Mayuri Katdare and Smita Daftardar

The Hindu Women’s Network (HWN), Atlanta Chapter, held its 4th Annual Hindu Women’s Conference on 29th July at the Garden Plaza Hotel in Norcross GA. The conference strives to create a platform to address issues faced by today’s women, covering a wide range of topics such as health, relationships, financial planning, religion and spirituality. The info sessions were designed to be interactive where speakers or panelists shared their life experiences and offered advice. The audience got to weigh in on the issues and share their thoughts, making it a true conference of women, not just for women.

The day started with traditional lamp lighting by senior citizen Ms. Shankutla Ahuja, mother of Attorney Neera Bahl, a generous supporter of HWN, and welcome address by Kusum Khurana, President of VHPA Atlanta Chapter. Veena Katdare, the force behind this entire endeavor, shared the agenda for the day. The first session was anchored by Manju Tiwari, introducing the World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), a journey that started in 1970 in USA, to uphold the lofty ideals of Sanatam Dharm. The presentation outlined the variety of projects undertaken by VHPA for the welfare of society, both in Karm-Bhoomi USA and Punya-Bhoomi Bharat, to fight illiteracy, poverty, natural disasters and more.

The keynote speaker for the event was Sadhvi Ritambharaji, also known lovingly as Didi Maa, for her noble work to uplift destitute women and orphan children through the Vatsalya Graam projects. Sadhviji, an extraordinarily gifted speaker, a revolutionary thinker and a generous, compassionate woman at heart, gave a powerful speech. She started out by defining woman as the only agent capable of channelizing chaotic energies of nature to procreate and establish peace and harmony. She extolled the virtues of women, especially their inherent, infinite “giving” nature. Cautioning women against “trying to become carbon copies of men” Sadhviji urged them to believe in their own unique role in this universe. She also squarely put the mantle of success of Hindu populace on women, by declaring that only a strong, confident and self-respecting mother can give birth to a strong self-reliant child. So, it is imperative that Hindu women believe in themselves and their inner “Shakti”, to bring in to this world fearless men and women. The positive force of Sadhviji’s words set the perfect tone for the day’s discussions, making the event a celebration of womanhood.

The sessions that followed dealt with a plethora of topics, with separate break-out sessions for youth and adult attendees. The first panel discussion for adults, moderated by Smita D, was aptly titled “Retrospective” where panelists shared their life achievements, regrets, if any, what they would change, and the lessons they learnt. Audience got to share their thoughts at the closing of the session. The four panelists were from different age groups, with widely varying background: Mrs. Jaya Asthana, a clinical social worker working in Hospice, and a dedicated VHPA karya karta (volunteer) since the 1990’s; Dr. Anjali Ambekar, retired (and the first lady to hold this post) Medical Commissioner, Labor Ministry, Govt. of India, Delhi; Mrs. Manjari Hegde, a young professional who recently moved to US, a former TV executive in India with MS in Mass Communications, and Ms. Anjali Patel, a second generation Indian American, majoring in Education from North Carolina State University. While the senior panelists shared their life stories to encourage and inspire the women in the audience, the younger panelists provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by the younger generations, their aspirations and the decision making process they go through.

The sessions that followed dealt with a plethora of topics, with separate break-out sessions for youth and adult attendees. The first panel discussion for adults, moderated by Smita D, was aptly titled “Retrospective” where panelists shared their life achievements, regrets, if any, what they would change, and the lessons they learnt. Audience got to share their thoughts at the closing of the session. The four panelists were from different age groups, with widely varying background: Mrs. Jaya Asthana, a clinical social worker working in Hospice, and a dedicated VHPA karya karta (volunteer) since the 1990’s; Dr. Anjali Ambekar, retired (and the first lady to hold this post) Medical Commissioner, Labor Ministry, Govt. of India, Delhi; Mrs. Manjari Hegde, a young professional who recently moved to US, a former TV executive in India with MS in Mass Communications, and Ms. Anjali Patel, a second generation Indian American, majoring in Education from North Carolina State University. While the senior panelists shared their life stories to encourage and inspire the women in the audience, the younger panelists provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by the younger generations, their aspirations and the decision making process they go through.

The sessions that followed dealt with a plethora of topics, with separate break-out sessions for youth and adult attendees. The first panel discussion for adults, moderated by Smita D, was aptly titled “Retrospective” where panelists shared their life achievements, regrets, if any, what they would change, and the lessons they learnt. Audience got to share their thoughts at the closing of the session. The four panelists were from different age groups, with widely varying background: Mrs. Jaya Asthana, a clinical social worker working in Hospice, and a dedicated VHPA karya karta (volunteer) since the 1990’s; Dr. Anjali Ambekar, retired (and the first lady to hold this post) Medical Commissioner, Labor Ministry, Govt. of India, Delhi; Mrs. Manjari Hegde, a young professional who recently moved to US, a former TV executive in India with MS in Mass Communications, and Ms. Anjali Patel, a second generation Indian American, majoring in Education from North Carolina State University. While the senior panelists shared their life stories to encourage and inspire the women in the audience, the younger panelists provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by the younger generations, their aspirations and the decision making process they go through.

The sessions that followed dealt with a plethora of topics, with separate break-out sessions for youth and adult attendees. The first panel discussion for adults, moderated by Smita D, was aptly titled “Retrospective” where panelists shared their life achievements, regrets, if any, what they would change, and the lessons they learnt. Audience got to share their thoughts at the closing of the session. The four panelists were from different age groups, with widely varying background: Mrs. Jaya Asthana, a clinical social worker working in Hospice, and a dedicated VHPA karya karta (volunteer) since the 1990’s; Dr. Anjali Ambekar, retired (and the first lady to hold this post) Medical Commissioner, Labor Ministry, Govt. of India, Delhi; Mrs. Manjari Hegde, a young professional who recently moved to US, a former TV executive in India with MS in Mass Communications, and Ms. Anjali Patel, a second generation Indian American, majoring in Education from North Carolina State University. While the senior panelists shared their life stories to encourage and inspire the women in the audience, the younger panelists provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by the younger generations, their aspirations and the decision making process they go through.

The next session was presented by Mrs. Neera Bahl, Attorney and founder of law firm Neera Bahl & Associates. Continuing the discussion on marriages, she talked about the legal aspects of marriage, the laws in state of Georgia pertaining to marriage, the concept of community property vs. individual property in a marriage, etc. She talked about her own life experiences and her pursuit of her dreams that took her to law school. Her inspiring narrative reinforced the need for women to believe in themselves, value what is inside of them and trust that their goodness will attract the right kind of people and environment. From these discussions about emotional and intellectual pursuits, the conference transitioned to another wellness aspect- physical well-being. Mrs. Shobha Swamy, a nutritionist as well as a yoga instructor, presented a holistic approach to nutrition, wellbeing and promoting permanent lifestyle changes. She gave a presentation about healthy plant based diet as a way to a healthy body as also to reverse chronic diseases, advocating the use of minimally processed, plant based diet. She outlined the harm caused by excessive use of oils and argued against the use of milk in our diet. While following a rigorous diet may be difficult, her informative slides definitely made one pause and rethink their dietary options, hopefully leading to healthier food choices. The session concluded with a personal story by Mrs. Bindi Mehta, who talked about her struggles with her weight and her decision to undergo bariatric surgery, a choice she was glad she made.

Youth Sessions

This year the conference separately held sessions for women aged 19 to 25 on subjects more relevant to the ten women who attended these discussions. The first session discussed Identifying Abusive Relationships and was conducted by Ms. Aparna Bhattacharyya. Ms. Bhattacharyya is the Executive Director of Raksha, an organization that helps abused women. Everyone in the session was asked to give characteristic of a healthy relationship and a characteristic of an unhealthy relationship. For every point, discussion was done on why a relationship is healthy and why it is unhealthy. The importance of communication in the case of unhealthy relationships was also discussed and emphasized.

The second morning session was about Rituals vs. Spirituality. According to Dr. Roopa Luthra, who is in her own words “PhD is Life Sciences BUT more interested in LIFE beyond Sciences.” This discussion focused on defining rituals as separate from, but important to, spirituality. Dr. Luthra talked about how spirituality can be a motivation and of assistance to doing the right thing, and in keeping to a righteous path, all people (regardless of religion) could attain happiness.

The afternoon sessions started with Career and Workspace segment. This was conducted by Ms. Preeti Tanwar who is professionally Software Engineer and works with the non-profit organization “Ekal Vidyalay.” She emphasized the importance of knowing where one is to eventually attaining one’s ultimate goal. Using the analogy of a shopping mall map, Ms. Tanwar gave tips to improving one’s life and habits to eventually get where they want to go.

This session was followed by a Mental Health segment by Anjali Patel. Anjali Patel is a college student, who is hoping to be a teacher once she graduates. She talked about how to identify signs of depression, and what can you do to help others when they are facing this or other mental health issues. She encouraged the women to seek support from their families and communities.

The day was rounded out by a presentation on Bhutani/Nepalese displaced families who are now working/studying in USA. They went over where they came from and circumstances of their displacement and life in USA. There was a lot to learn and think about, which was an important theme of the conference as a whole.

The conference concluded with a vote of thanks by Veena Katdare, followed by the Sangh Prarthana, a prayer for world peace. The sponsors for this event were Sunil Sachdeva SDK Insurance, Sushma Chander, Neera Bahl and Associates and Sita Goel. Conference attendees were treated to morning and evening snacks, tea and a delicious catered lunch. HWN team members Rachna Gupta, Sanjana Dhar and Preeti Gupta managed the registration desk. Ms. Smriti Singh took pictures and the volunteers and board members of VHPA, Atlanta chapter were at hand to help with the set-up and smooth running of the conference. The Hindu Women’s Network (HWN) team would like to thank the sponsors and the attendees for their support and attendance. The team plans to continue the conversations started in this conference via social media, and looks forward to meaningful interactions with the community members.

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