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October 18, 2013

Hindi Association hosts their annual convention at VPSS Haveli

HOUSTON Hindi lovers from all over the United States gathered in Houston at the Labor Day long weekend to discuss ways to popularize Hindi, India’s national language, among younger generations in order to keep them closer to their cultural roots.Delegates from the East Coast and the West Coast were present for the 16th National Hindi Convention, hosted by the Houston Chapter of the International Hindi Association, from August 30 to September 1 at VPSS Haveli. Moreover, a large number of people from Houston and other Texas cities attended the event. Besides several meaningful programs and workshops, the convention offered a variety of entertainment to participants. The highlights were musical performance by Rekha Surya, a well-known singer from the Lucknow Gharana on August 30. A Hasya Kavi Sammelan was held the next day in which several famous poets from India are taking part. These include Gajendra Solanki, Archana Panda and Abhinav Shukla.Several dignitaries, including University of Houston Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator and her husband Dr. Suresh Khator, will take part in one or the other programs of the convention. The International Hindi Association or ‘Antarashtriya Hindi Samiti’ was established in 1980 in

the United States for promotion of Hindi language and literature among Indian diaspora spread all over the world. The organization aims to foster Indian heritage among younger generations and wants to ensure that they not only read and speak Hindi but also understand its rich literary tradition. The non-religious, non-political, and non-profit lingo-cultural organization is run entirely by volunteers with the support and patronage from its growing membership worldwide.The association organizes Hindi classes, youth camps, poetry recitals, literary symposiums and publications promote and inculcate human values inherent in the Indian culture. The annual and biennial IHA conventions have been instrumental in getting the message to public at large. The three-day convention programs include Hindi typing on computers, Hindi mein anuvaad, Khel khel mein Hindi, How to make Hindi popular?, Poetry writing in Hindi, Ramcharitramanas and Hindi, Influence of Bollywood on Hindi, What’s the Good Word, Kaun Banega Hindi Gyani and Antakshri.The IHA working committee for the convention comprises of Sangeeta Pasrija as the president and Swapan Dhairyawan as the vice president. Rajiv Bhavsar is the Treasurer and Rafi Ansar and Sanjay Sohoni are Joint Secretaries.

American Muslims to mark end of Hajj with Prayers

WASHINGTON, D.C. On Tuesday, October 15, American Muslims will mark the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, with communal prayers and celebrations at locations around the country. The prayers and the holiday that follows are called Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), or “festival of the sacrifice.” Eid ul-Adha also commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God’s command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During this holiday, Muslims exchange the greeting “Eid Mubarak” or “blessed Eid.” Each year, some two million Muslims, including thousands of American Muslims, go on Hajj. In the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, God says: “Thus We settled Abraham at the site of the House (the Ka’aba) (saying): ‘Do not associate anything with Me, and purify My house for those who walk around it, and those who stand

Commonwealth Biz Forum 2013 promoted in the US

WASHINGTON DC On September 19th, The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington, DC organized a special briefing to high-level US corporate delegates, Chamber of Commerce representatives and senior US Government officials regarding the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the Commonwealth Business Forum 2013 in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya chaired the conference, which was held at the Churchill Embassy Row Hotel in Washington frocommonwealth-bizforum-2013-promoted-in-the-usm 4pm to 6pm. Ambassador Wickramasuriya in his opening remarks underscored the immense potential of the Commonwealth Business Forum to be held in Sri Lanka from November 12-14 on the margins of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013 to create new opportunities for the business community in the United States. He pointed out that the forum will be attended by a diverse business community from more than 60 countries representing six continents and addressed by over a dozen of heads of state and more than 100 international business speakers. He said the unique setting, where nearly 1000 business delegates meet in one place for three days in a magnificent surrounding, will be an excellent networking opportunity that no growth-focused firm would want to miss. Ambassador Wickramasuriya also briefed the participants about the program of the CHOGM 2013 and the related activities that are scheduled to take place in the side-

there (praying), and those who bow down on their knees in worship. Proclaim the pilgrimage among mankind: they will come to you on foot and on every lean (beast of burden); Let them come from every deep ravine, to bear witness to the advantages they have, and to mention God’s name on appointed days.” Chapter 22, Verses 26-28 Hajj is one of the “five pillars” of the Islamic faith. (The other pillars include a declaration of faith, daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan.) Pilgrimage is a once-ina-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey. When the main portion of the pilgrimage is completed, Muslims worldwide gather for communal prayers on the first day (October 15) of Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODDha), the second of the two major Muslim holidays. The obligatory and optional activities of Hajj include: 1 Entrance into a state of self-control called “ihram,” during which pilgrims are forbidden to harm living creatures, even insects

or plants, or raise the voice in anger. The state of ihram is signified (for men) by the wearing of two pieces of unsown white cloth. This clothing signifies the equality of all before God. No specific clothing is prescribed for female pilgrims. 2 Circling (“Tawaf”) of the “Ka’aba,” the stone building Muslims believe was originally built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. The Ka’aba is viewed as the first sanctuary on earth dedicated to the worship of the One God. It is a symbol of unity for Muslims because all prayers, wherever they are performed, are oriented in the direction of the Ka’aba. 3 The “Sa’i,” or “hastening” between two small hills near the Ka’aba, to commemorate Hagar’s search for water to offer her son Ishmael. 4 The “Day of Arafah.” Arafah is a mountain and its surrounding empty plain near Mecca. On this day, the climax of the Hajj season, pilgrims assemble for supplication to God. 5 The stoning of three pillars representing Satan’s temptation of Abraham. The stoning indicates the pilgrim’s rejection of evil deeds. 6 Cutting the hair to symbolize the completion of Hajj. 7 Sacrifice of an animal to help feed the poor, and in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God’s command. The meat is distributed to relatives and to the needy.

President and the First Lady’s Meeting with Malala Yousafzai

Commonwealth Biz Forum 2013 (File Photo) lines of the summit. He expounded on the rapid economic and social development currently underway in Sri Lanka under the visionary leadership of President His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa. He said that, as the US is Sri Lanka’s single largest export market, the country is very much eager to see US corporates invest and promote their business in the Sri Lankan market. Minister Commercial of the Embassy, Mr. Bandula Somasiri, explained the huge business potential in Sri Lanka due to its strategic location in the region, liberal economic policies of the government and political stability. He also informed the audience about the Reflection of Sri Lanka, an international trade fair jointly

organized by the Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Industry & Commerce in Sri Lanka that will be held concurrently with the CHOGM. This unique exposition covering trade, investment and tourism will be held from November 13-17, in Colombo Sri Lanka, attracting a large number of local and international business visitors. Ambassador Wickramasuriya invited US companies to exhibit at this mega exposition and US importers and tour operators to visit the fair. Information packets containing brochures and other details on the Commonwealth Business Forum and Reflection of Sri Lanka trade exhibition were distributed among the participants.

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“I Am Malala” (File Photo) WASHINGTON DC President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Malala Yousafzai to the Oval Office to thank her for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls education in Pakistan. The United States joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala’s courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams. As the First Lady has said, “Investing in girls’ education is the very best thing we can do, not just for our daughters and granddaughters, but for their families, their

communities, and their countries.” As the President said in his proclamation to mark today as the International Day of the Girl, “Across the globe there are girls who will one day lead nations, if only we afford them the chance to choose their own destinies. And on every continent, there are girls who will go on to change the world in ways we can only imagine, if only we allow them the freedom to dream.” We salute Malala’s efforts to help make these dreams come true. Malala also had a public discussion “I Am Malala” with World Bank Jim Yong Kim


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