Hindu Americans Promote Pluralism at PantheaCon 2011
San Jose, CA (February 23, 2011) – Over 2300 people from around the world gathered at the Double Tree Hotel in San Jose, CA this past President’s Day weekend to attend PantheaCon 2011, an event dubbed to celebrate and honor the Pagan and Ethnic Religious Traditions. This year’s program also featured presentations by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) on Hinduism, the Hindu American community, how Hinduism and Paganism converge and differ, pluralism, predatory proselytization, and common goals for future collaboration.
Among the weekend’s highlights were a vibrant Pagan and Hindu ritual, showcasing Devi Composition sung by Sangeetha Venkataraman, sacred chanting of Suktams, performance of a bhajan by Sunil Shukla on the sitar, and traditional Bharatanatyam dancing performed by students of Suganda Sreenath Iyer, director of Jayendra Kalakendra of San Jose.
"I thought the chanting, singing and sitar all sounded so beautiful. Like an uninterrupted river flowing majestically...they all sounded perfect with one flowing after another,” commented Sundari Katir, HAF Working Group member.
Pluralism was the focus in the Hindu-Pagan Dialogue, where Easan Katir and Dr. Mihir Meghani joined Thorn Coyle and Selena Fox as panelists in addressing a standing room only audience on common civilizational themes, shared historical challenges, such as a history of Christian and Islamic proselytization and conquest, pluralism, and current issues facing the communities, such as usurpation of religious symbols, and civil and human rights. Mr. Katir highlighted the challenge of dealing with followers of what he termed “OnlyMyGodIsm”, or “OMG”, who as he stated, “believe that their path is the only correct path to God or Truth, and seek to convert people to their belief through force, fraud, or coercion.”
During another panel entitled “Are Hindus Pagan and are Pagans Hindus,” Madhulika Singh, Swami Venkataraman, Dr. Raman Khanna, and Samir Kalra continued the dialogue with discussions on Hinduism in the United States, commonalities between Hinduism and Paganism, conversions and Christianity, and the need to work together. The session concluded with a lively question and answer period, where enthusiastic audience members expressed their support for many of the points raised by the panelists.
"It was wonderful to see so many Pagans supporting the Hindu perspective, and vice versa," noted Raman Khanna, M.D., one of the panelists. "United as we are around pluralism and self-directed spiritual experience, it is high time we start collaborating, and this conference was an important step in that direction. PantheaCon deserves special thanks for its important work in this regard."
To learn more about the conference, please click here and read Dr. Mihir Meghani's blog which appeared in the Wild Hunt.