Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Captivates Audience at HAF’s Annual Northern CA Gala
Milpitas, CA (September 17, 2013) -- Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) captivated a standing-room only audience of 500 people at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF)’s Annual Northern California Awareness and Gala Dinner this past Saturday at the India Community Center in Milpitas.
Since coming to office in 2012, Congresswoman Gabbard has been a strong proponent of the Foundation’s work, particularly in the areas of human rights and religious freedom.
“The Hindu American Foundation’s work is based on the principles of human dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism which serve to break down the barriers that exist within so many communities across the country and around the world,” said Congresswoman Gabbard. “I appreciate HAF's efforts to bring diverse voices and interests together to accomplish the shared goal of supporting and defending human rights and religious freedom around the world.”
In Saturday's keynote address, Congresswoman Gabbard, the first Hindu American elected to Congress, described her journey as a public servant and military veteran, and the inspiration and solace she drew from the Bhagavada Gita and her Hindu faith. She further spoke about the Syria crisis and her leading role as an outspoken critic of military strikes against the Assad regime.
“Congresswoman Gabbard’s inspiring story captures the imagination of all Hindu Americans, whether young or old,” said Anju Sharma, an HAF volunteer and coordinator for the event. “She instills a sense of pride in the community and serves as a role model for young Hindus across the nation.”
Attended by several local and state elected officials, community leaders, and high-profile Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the event marked the Foundation’s largest and most successful Gala Dinner to date. The program celebrated HAF’s 10th Anniversary and a decade of advocacy on behalf of the Hindu American community, including highlights of its human rights and policy work, textbook reform initiative, and the Take Back Yoga project.
In addition to Congresswoman Gabbard, the event featured guest speakers Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15), and Congressional Candidate Ro Khanna. California State Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett was also honored with the Foundation’s “Friend of the Community” award for her authorship and successful passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 32, designating October 2013 as California Hindu American Awareness & Appreciation Month.
Moreover, HAF was presented with several commemorative resolutions to mark the occasion, including from State Senate Majority Leader Corbett and Dave Cortese on behalf of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, among others. Similarly, earlier in the week, Congressman Swalwell recognized HAF's work with a statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Finally, the event featured two of HAF’s Capitol Hill Interns and current students at the University of California at Berkeley, Tejas Dave and Rupa Subramaniam, and culminated with a passionate speech by Jay Kansara, HAF’s Washington, D.C. based Associate Director for Government Outreach.
“While the evening acknowledged HAF’s milestones and achievements, it was more importantly a celebration of the Hindu American community and how far it is has come over the past decade,” said Kansara. “It was truly special to see so many elected officials and interfaith leaders present to recognize the Foundation and the community as a whole.”