Nevada (USA), Jan.21 :For the first time, Sanskrit shlokas (hymns) from Rig-Veda and other ancient Hindu scriptures formed the benediction at annual northern Nevada Martin Luther King Jr. memorial service.
Rajan Zed, prominent Hindu chaplain and Indo-American leader, started the benediction with Gayatri Mantra and read from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita, besides Rig-Veda, ending with Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (Peace, Peace, Peace be unto all). Rig-Veda is the oldest scripture of the world, composed around 1,500 BCE, which is still in common use.
From Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed read "Asto ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrityor mamrtam gamaya", which roughly translates as "Lead me from the unreal to the Real, Lead me from darkness to Light, Lead me from death to immortality."
Theme of this popular annual event of Nevada to pay tribute to civil rights leader Dr. King was "Keeping the Dream Alive" and it filled the Second Baptist Church in Reno to its full capacity. Well-known area religious leader, Reverend Onie Cooper, was the master of ceremonies.
It also included invocation by Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., Bishop of International Community of Christ; prayer song by pre-teen singer Aleyah Wright; offering by Pastor Don Butler of Black Springs First Baptist Church; and keynote address by diversity and leadership consultant Dr. Angela D. Taylor. Dr. Jesse Hall directed Men's Choir, while Reverend William C. Webb of Second Baptist Church, also spoke.
The congregation and clergy joined hands and sang "We shall overcome" together.