Aloha, everyone, from the tropical island nation of Mauritius.
In the days before Innersearch begins here, the team is making dozens of last minute tweaks to the program and scouting of the various venues and places we will be visiting and having classes and events, lots of events.
Yesterday afternoon we held a "Meet the Publisher and Editors of Hinduism Today Magazine" event at the prestigious Hennessey Park hotel. We had hoped for 200 to come, but made arrangements for up to 365. And to our amazement 360 showed up for the two hour event.
The members had everything arranged, including a marvelous, 8 foot tall sign at the entry
All were greeted by Selna, who manages our Mini Mela at the Spiritual Park, and others, then enjoyed tea, coffee and snacks from 3 to 4pm. We learned that Mauritians arrive early for events of all kinds, which they did, sitting patiently for it all to begin. Two swamis attended, Krishnarupananda of the Ramakrishna Mission and a brahmachari from the Chinmaya Mission, greeting Bodhinatha and the monks. Ministers came as well, and a constitutional judge, Spiritual Park supporters of all kinds and Hinduism Today readers.
At 4pm we began with all 375 of us chanting Sahana vavathu, and the hall filled with such a vibrant shared voice. Manon Mardeemootoo offered a welcome to all, and gave a lovely summary of Gurudeva's vision for the island and for Hindu communities around the globe, the spoke of Bodhinatha's and the monks' purpose here on the island, Innersearch, but that we wanted to also share our other work with readers.
On a giant screen in front and running the show from his iPhone, Sadasivanatha presented a 35-minute (quite elaborate) Keynote, sharing key stories about Hinduism Today (it included a short video of Gurudeva speaking about the magazine's wide purposes). Then on to the projects the Hinduism Today staff has been involved in, the medical ethics issues, the California textbook controversies, the White House Blue Ribbon Committee on human cloning. He then shared our recent front page stories, talked about how the Insight Sections are created to inform and uplift readers. And more….
Paramacharya introduced Bodhinatha who had prepared an elegantly-designed Keynote about his Publisher's Desk editorials, with two examples of how issues arise in his travels and how he responds to them through this channel. Part of that was a summary of his 10-Minute Spiritual Workout.
Senthilnathaswami then shared with everyone the way articles and issues are conceived, writhed, designed, edited, proofed and printed. He ended with a screening of our 22-minute recently completed film, "The History of Hindu India."
Pause for ebullient applause…..
Sadasivanathaswami then opened the floor for 15 minutes of Q & A. Clearly, those present loved the presentations and asked if the HT team would consider going on the road in Mauritius, presenting to all the communities, bringing everyone together on a shared platform, perhaps taking an issue, like caste, as a subject and delving into it for two hours in a similar way. Seems caste is the topic here amore than some would like.
One young woman stood, took the mike in hand and gave a powerful testimonial, beginning with a forceful "Wow! I have to tell you this is the first time I have ever seen my religion presented in a way that touched me so deeply. Tonight I feel proud to be a Hindu."
Sadasivanathaswami invited those in the audience to write for Hinduism Today, and suggested an initial article on the amazingly well-attended Sivaratri pilgrimage to Grand Bassin. Four journalists came forward to write it.
At the end everyone greeted Bodhinatha on stage, had his blessings, spoke with the swamis and sadhakas and generally offered ideas, accolades, affections and material support for the Spiritual Park. It was clear that, if we wanted to we could spend the balance of our lives here in Mauritius, going from place to place, sharing Gurudeva's vision of unity in diversity and making Hindus proud. But, that's another story. Stay tuned for the adventures ahead.