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om’s biannual newsletter fall 2012

president’s letter

OM has really hit the ground running this year, bringing a fresh exuberance both to our events and to the campus as a whole. This semester, we've brought you Gandhi Week, Navratri Garba, Temple Trips and the Diwali Pooja. We've also introduced initiatives including Mithai Mondays, Yoga & Meditation Sessions, and cOMmon Knowledge, unified by the aim of integrating culture and traditional values with college life. The enthusiasm for these events has only grown throughout the semester, and we're excited to build on this success with what we have in store for next semester. None of this would have been possible without an extremely hard-working board. I would like to thank each board member for their creativity, follow-through, and commitment to excellence in all that they've done. It was a concerted effort on the part of the entire board that brought success to our events. I would also like to thank the OM Committee and other members who always support us and infallibly attend our events. We have not grown complacent with our fortune, however, and are working to meet new goals for next semester. We are in the process of streamlining our new initiatives, while simultaneously introducing events for Sikhs and Jains. We also plan to host several interactive, fun, and value-adding forum based discussions to improve understanding of our religion and develop ways to integrate spirituality with our everyday lives. We've had an amazing fall semester. Now, we're looking to carry this success forward, and make the spring even bigger and better. Get excited.

the executive board Vishalsai Daswani President

Anand Sastry Vice President

Vijay Iyengar Treasurer

Poorvi Goradia

Public Relations Chair

Trisha Ambe

Social Networking Chair

Kamakshi Sharma Secretary

Divya Kothandapani

Freshman Representative

Aditya Dargan

Freshman Representative Vishalsai Daswani

Sanjana Baldwa

Freshman Representative

mithai mondays

new initiatives

finding hOMe @ CMU

This year OM has started “Mithai Mondays”, a sweet start to your week! This initiative is in collaboration with CulinArt and occurs every other week in four CulinArt locations, including Entropy, Evgefstos and Carnegie Mellon Cafe. The event kick off started during Gandhi Week by distributing barfi. Since then, we have distributed mithai such as Kaju barfi and Peda to the general campus population to increase awareness of traditional Indian food and sweets. In addition, Bombay Mart has donated some of the mithai for this event. “Mithai Mondays” have been a savory success, and we will continue this program for the upcoming semester. Anand

Our first event of the year was Finding hOMe at CMU, OM’s annual freshman orientation event. The event helped freshmen connect to OM and incorporated them into our community. We gave a quick introduction to different ways the freshmen could get involved in Indian spirituality and culture through OM and around the Pittsburgh area. We also distributed a brochure detailing important temples, restaurants and other places of interest so the new students could get acclimated to their new hOMe. In addition, OM participated in the annual South Asian Barbeque along with Mayur-SASA and other Indian organizations. This event connected more freshmen to OM, and strengthened the Indian community on campus. Anand

rise and shine: om’s yoga session Yoga and meditation are techniques used to strengthen and connect the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga poses improve balance, posture, flexibility, focus, and provide for a great workout, while meditation brings peace of mind and clears the thoughts. Yoga and meditation are ancient methods that are still practiced today, and can be very beneficial especially to stressed college students. This semester, OM has started a new initiative towards health and wellness through yoga and meditation: OM’s “Rise and Shine Yoga and Medita-


tion” sessions. These “Rise and Shine” events are yoga and meditation classes taught by Adiguru Das, a guru and CMU alumnus certified in Bhakti Yoga. During these sessions, held every few weeks on Sunday mornings, Adiguru Das teaches basic yoga poses and different types of meditation, explaining their significance and contributions to improving health and wellness. The classes are an excellent way to start of the day and week fresh and with a clear mind. Trisha

gandhi jayanthi

gandhi week

On October 2nd, 1869, the father of India was born. Around the world, people commemorate this date as a tribute to the life of Mahatma Gandhi. He spearheaded the “Quit India” movement and worked tirelessly to evict the British Raj rule from our subjugated land. To celebrate the man and his work, OM organized an entire week of Gandhi related events. We had our weekly Mithai Mondays, and on Tuesday, distributed cake in the University Center, courtesy of CulinArt. Along with the cake, we set up a banner that students signed with their well wishes and statements about Gandhi’s impact today. We also integrated the festivities with International

Day of Love, giving out free hugs and wristbands. The following Monday, OM hosted a discussion based event called “Taking a Stand: Big questions, Gandhi’s answers” that addressed the notion of leadership in a college context and how Gandhian values can be embodied today. The event was well attended and attracted a diverse group, serving as a forum for students to express their views and learn from one another. To wrap up Gandhi week, OM collaborated with a UPitt organization in a service-oriented event to beautify the streets of downtown Pittsburgh. Aditya


diwali diwali aarti

Diwali is a five-day festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil, symbolized by the lighting of lamps. The third day of Diwali, known as Amavasya or Lakshmi Puja, is considered the most significant; it is celebrated by wearing new clothes and sharing sweets. OM honored this day by hosting an Aarti, complete with adorned idols, bhajans, and plenty of mithai. We had our largest turnout to date; and as over 35 people packed close in UC Dowd, voices ringing in the harmony of OM Jai Jagdish, one couldn’t help but feel at hOMe. Vijay

lights will guide you hOMe

Beyond its spiritual and cultural aspects, OM serves as a platform for religious pursuits on campus. This year, we enabled students to perform one of the most significant religious rites in the Hindu tradition: the lighting of lamps, or diyas, for Diwali. On November 14th, the board gathered by a table outside Doherty with traditional snacks, a flask of freshly brewed chai, and several hundred tea lights. Despite the frigid conditions, we had a great turnout; many even stayed afterward to pose with the rows of lights that adorned the sidewalks. As a board, it was exciting to see such involvement in a new event and we hope everyone that came out had a great time! Vijay


navratri garba

navratri garba

Dance. Eat. Pray. Celebrate. For me, those four words characterize Navratri Garba. OM’s largest event each Fall, Navratri Garba attracts over 500 students from the undergraduate and graduate populations of both CMU and Pitt. It is a night filled with dancing and celebration of Navratri, a nine-day festival honoring the different forms of the goddess Durga. This year, it was held on Friday October 26th from 9 PM to midnight at St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, on the corner of Dithridge and Forbes. The venue boasts a beautiful hall, one of the few that can accommodate our crowd. Preparation began as early as 4 PM, and the OM Events Committee played an extraordinary role in setting up and decorating the venue. We had draped sarees along the walls and ceilings, arranged light-filled trees around the sides, and adorned the hall with all the rope lights

we could find; by the time we were done, every corner of the room was glowing. The night included traditional Garba and Dandiya Raas, as well as Bhangra and Bollywood. We had significantly greater involvement this year in all three dance sections; the dance floor filled up early on and people continued to join throughout the night.We also had a special performance from Deewane, and a Navratri Aarti, to commemorate the religious festival we were celebrating. During this Aarti, as the glow of lamps lit up everyone’s faces, you could feel a sense of togetherness with the entire audience. At one point in the night, we overloaded the power source – and yet even without music or lights, everyone continued to dance. This demonstrated just how infectious the spirit of Navratri was: the mark of a successful event. Vishalsai



other traditions

The purpose of OM Sparknotes is to create a tangible, interactive, learning experience with those interested members who would like to learn more about the texts behind Hinduism. This year, OM Sparknotes focuses on the Bhagavad Gita. Before all Sparknotes meetings, interested hOMies read a chapter of the Gita and then participate in a roundtable discussion. During Sparknotes discussions, we talk about the significance of the chapter, some key take-away

temple trips

OM organized a temple trip this semester on November 2nd to the Sri Venkateshwara Temple. Despite the rain and cold weather, over 60 students joined us, among them CMU undergraduates, the Indian Graduate Student Association and the UPitt Hindu Student Council. Upon our arrival, a special Lakshmi pooja was conducted for us along with the Venkateswara Aarti. The ambiance and friendliness of those at the temple helped us feel at peace in

points, and its relevance to us as college students. The discussions are fun and interactive, and allow everyone to make connections of the Gita with daily life. We compile these key points into a summary of each chapter that eventually will lead to a bigger summary (or Sparknotes) of the Bhagavad Gita. This event is important to OM because it allows us to connect with our roots in a deeper way despite being away from home. Kamakshi this holy setting. The temple had also specially prepared prasad for the students, which everyone enjoyed; constituting the social aspect of the event. On the bus ride back, having been imbued with positive energy, we played a huge game of Antakshari! Overall, the temple trip was a peaceful, rejuvenating time spent off campus in the presence of God as well as a pleasant time making new friends. Divya

We thank you for your support and wish you a very warm and prosperous New Year!


newletter designed by Sanjana Baldwa

OM Fall Newsletter - 2012  

A reflection on our past semester with a detailed review of major events, new and old, as well as images and a brief look at what is to come...