Celebrate Hindu Awareness Week: Seva in Action
September 27 - October 3
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed." - Mahatma Gandhi
More than just a religion, Hinduism is a way of life for its followers. Beyond prayers and rituals, Hindu teachings share the importance of seva - service to those in need, including oneself, without thought of reward or personal gain - for one's spiritual well-being. In the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi's message of sacrifice and seva and in celebration of Gandhi Jayanti, HAF is proud to designate the week of September 27, 2009 as the second annual Hindu Awareness Week: Seva in Action.
This week, HAF encourages you to remember the importance of seva in Hinduism, and act on it! To get the ball rolling, the Foundation has created an extensive list of seva ideas that you can participate in individually, with your family and friends, or with your community at large. There are many ways you can get involved in serving others and yourself, so get creative and use the ideas below as a starting point.
Bhumi Seva (Serving the Planet)
A daily prayer recited by Hindus upon rising asks Mother Earth's forgiveness for stepping on Her throughout the day. In the spirit of this profound and ancient call for respect for the environment, make a conscientious effort to avoid using your car whenever possible this week (walk, bike, use public transport or car pool).
Gather your family and friends to spend an afternoon cleaning up a park or neighborhood school yard or planting a few trees and/or flowers.
Commit to the Hindu concept of ahimsa (non-violence) and consider going vegetarian for the week. As an ongoing commitment, consider going vegetarian at least once a week. There is more than enough food in the world to feed the entire human population, yet over 840 million people go hungry. Studies show that a meat-based diet is partly to blame, as land, water, and other resources that could be used to grow food for people are instead being used to grow crops for farmed animals. A report by Compassion in World Farming found that it can take up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of edible animal flesh. A meat-based diet also has detrimental effects on the environment. A 2006 United Nations report called the meat industry "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." So, leave the meat for a few days to raise awareness about world hunger and environmental issues.
Loka Seva (Serving Humanity)
Share the Hindu concept of daana (giving) by holding a food drive in an effort to alleviate hunger locally through organizations such as Second Harvest (secondharvest.org). Participate in HAF's Northern California Food Drive on October 2 (details to follow soon).
Hold a charity drive and send the proceeds to your charity of choice.
Volunteer at least two hours of your time at a local soup kitchen or mandir.
If you live near a college campus, invite a group of desi students for a home cooked Indian meal and a discussion on Hinduism.
Clean out your closet and donate gently-used clothing, appliances and toys to a charity organization such as Goodwill.
If you are healthy, give blood at your local American Red Cross. If you are in the Northern or Central California regions, donate blood at BloodSource and list HAF as your affiliated organization.
If you are healthy, become a Bone Marrow Donor and help save a life. South Asians, including Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis, comprise a mere 1% of the National Marrow Donor Registry. The simple act of registering (a simple cotton swab sampling from the inside of your mouth) could save a life.
Atma Seva (Serving Your Soul)
Reserve ten minutes at the beginning and end of each day to meditate and reflect positively on yourself. Consider the power of affirmations: "Through repetition of positive statements we can make greater progress on the spiritual path and increase our magnetism to success. To progress spiritually, a positive self-concept is essential." - Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. For more information on affirmations, reference Hinduism Today's April/May/June 2009 issue at www.HinduismToday.com.
Take at least two yoga classes this week or if you have been practicing yoga asanas, gather your friends and teach asanas.
Kutumba Seva (Serving Your Family)
Go for a 20-30 minute walk with your family at least three days this week.
Eat dinner together as a family at least five nights this week. Turn off the TV/phone/Blackberry and engage one another in meaningful conversations. Incorporate a discussion on different aspects of Hindu philosophy and how it relates to your daily life into your conversations each night.
Practice yoga asanas or perform kirtan as a family at least twice this week.
Dharma Seva (Serving Righteousness)
Be a Hindu American advocate and host and HAF party at your home and encourage at least five of your friends to become members of HAF.
Commit to attending and bringing at least one friend to a HAF awareness event, if one is taking place in or near your city.
Donate a one year subscription to Hinduism Today magazine or The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism to your local library or school.