On Sunday, 13 July, the Hindu Organisations, Temples and Associations (HOTA) held their first forum in Australia at Sydney’s Sri Ayyappa Temple. HOTA is a forum of participating Hindu temples and other Hindu organisations working together to discuss topics of common interest as well as explore opportunities with the objective of enhancing community service and preservation of Hindu culture.
HOTA was launched by Sri Swami Vigyanand at the third Australian National Hindu conference in April 2014. The forum plans to work on its objectives through two annual events—a forum and a cultural event—RakshaBandhan.
The members have also stated that every year, under the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) HOTA umbrella, one of the groups will host events and all participating organisations will work collaboratively through the year on the projects.
Speakers explained the vision and benefits of conducting HOTA Forum through collaborating on a common platform as an annual project. Some VHP leaders also provided evidence of how similar HOTA Forums have benefitted the cause of preserving Hindu culture and enhancing community service in other countries such as USA and New Zealand.
More than 15 temples and Hindu associations came together at Sydney’s Ayyapa temple and each presented their contributions and future ideas for community service. Sri DivakarHarle, VHP HOTA
co-ordinator, facilitated the workshop by making three groups based on the themes Associations, Temples and Youth.
The discussions and brainstorming sessions were very productive and illuminating to all the participants. Examples of ideas and discussions included sharing priest resources, improving procurement of pooja materials, strengthening youth engagement in Hindu cultural activities, increasing the footprint of Sanskrit and Hindi in education systems and a Hindu School in Australia.
During the forum, many distinguished speakers including Cr Raj Dutta from Indian Deepavali Committee spoke on the challenges and opportunities for Hindu organisations in the Australian multi-cultural context. Earlier, Sri Mohan Sundaram and Sri Venkataraman of Ayyappa Temple spoke on the contribution of Sri Ayyappa temple towards the community service.
AkilaRamarathinam, General secretary of VHP, spoke of the achievements of the organization and the vision of opportunities that lie ahead for the Hindu community in multi-cultural Australia.
The HOTA baton, symbolising the HOTA vision, was also launched in the forum. The current holder of the Baton—Sydney Sri Ayyappa temple—will pass it on to the next host in 2015.
For more details, visit www.vhp.org.au. The writer is a VHP co-ordinator