Bhajan Program in Memory of Padmakant Khambhati Ji

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Keshav Smruti 4018
Westhollow Parkway Houston TX 77082

Friday, April 24, 2015, 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Sanatan Shiv Shakti Mandir
6640 Harwin Dr, Houston, TX 77036

Funeral Services and Viewing will be held on Saturday, April 25. 2015,
From: 11:00 am - 1 pm
Garden Oaks Funeral Home


Hindu Youth Awards 2015


Six outstanding youngsters received the Hindu Youth Award, presented annually by Hindus of Greater Houston.

The awards gala hosted by Chinmaya Mission Houston this year was held at Chinmaya Prabha on April 11.

The 2015 Hindu Youth Award recipients were Sriharsha Kethireddipalli, nominated by Chinmaya Mission, Houston, Vyas Ramankulangara, nominated by the Vedic Heritage School at Sri Meenakshi Temple , Karuna Kankani, nominated by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Ankit Bhatia of Arya Samaj of Greater Houston, Jyothi Asokan, nominated by Kerala Hindu Society and Sri Guruvayurappan Temple and Bharat Pallod, nominated by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Houston chapter.

The six winners were drawn by nomination from the numerous Hindu organizations and temples throughout the Greater Houston Area. Nominations were given for Hindu youth (ages 16 to 30) who demonstrated an attitude of exemplary service to the society and the potential future leaders.

The Hindus of Greater Houston Board of Directors then reviewed all nominees and selected the winners. Winners were chosen because they served as role models for other youth in our Hindu community especially at the grassroots level. The award winners exemplify individuals who are inspiring creativity and social change across the Hindu community both inside Greater Houston and globally.

Sriharsha Kethireddipalli is a senior at Stephen F. Austin High School where he ranks 4th out of over 550 students and will attend the University of Texas as a Plan II and Business Honors student next year. Harsha serves on the Chinmaya Mission student council where he volunteers for the children’s lock-in activities and the gardening committee. He has volunteered in various Chinmaya Mission youth and family camps across North America. He is described as a role model for younger children at Chinmaya Mission.

Vyas Raman Kulangara, is doing exceptionally well in the 10th grade of high school. He volunteers in a range of Meenaskhi Temple activities including the Vedic Heritage School and the Janmashtami program. His commitment to the Meenaskhi temple is not surprising given that his father is a priest at the temple.

Karuna Kunkani. She was nominated by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. Karuna is a senior at Seven Lakes High School where she is actively involved with the Future Business Leaders of America. Her nominators have described Karuna as a role model for many youth sevaks and sevikas that exceeds even many adults. She has volunteered to establish Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh for several chapters across the Greater Houston Area. Karuna serves annually as a youth counselor for week-long HSS training camps. Kruna is also a Certified yoga teacher.

Jyothi Asokan is a senior at the University of Houston completing her nutrition degree. She also works part-time as a pharmacy technician at Kroger. She volunteers regularly on her Temple’s youth committee, Holi celebration, Janmashtami celebration. Jyothi has also assisted with several Hindus of Greater Houston activities including Janmashtami and the Sewa Gala. In what remaining free time she has, Jyothi enjoys participating in Infused Performing Arts – which is her dance group.

Bharat Pallod is a senior Financial Analyst at iHeartMedia, Inc. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He has attended HSS shaka for 12 years. He was also a core member of Hindu Students Association. He has been a counselor for the past 7 years for the Hindu Heritage Youth Camp including terms as the middle school coordinator and now camp director for the past two years. He works for the Hindu American Foundation with a passion for topics related to global human rights issues.

Earlier, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty of Chinmaya Mission and a founding-member of the HGH board of advisers, in his inaugural address congratulated the winners and urged the not to give up their faith and tradition in their enthusiasm to achieve progress.

When young one is restless and they have to tame their restlessness. The old not only are wise, but they have experience and the youth have the vision. Progress can be achieved without rejecting the old and the past, Nanavaty said. He cited the example of computer technology where huge roomful computers have been replaced by desktop computers and now smart phones.

The youth can progress by utilizing what the previous generation did and not by rejecting it wholesale, he said.

One does not become a Hindu by mere birth in a Hindu family or just by going to the temple. One has to understand Hinduism, learn the scriptures, try to understand who is god, pray and worship at home and develop love for the lord and then do karma yoga, the path of service, Nanavaty counselled. In the selfless service, one develops and nurtures spirituality, he said.

Nanavaty urged the youth to help the seniors in the community without expecting anything in return.

Amit K. Mishra, an attorney and Hindu activist, who is the national communications director of the Hindu Swaymasevak Sangh in America, was the guest speaker. Mishra cited the example a Hindu human rights activist who took up the cause of Iraqis and exposed the human rights violations by American troops in Iraq. Where are the Hindus with such tenacity in the Hindu American community, Mishra asked.

Hindu American community has matured over the past 25 years and has slowly changed its secondary outlook on the idea of a Hindu community.

“We are now recognizing the need for Hindu identity at community level,” Mishra said. Hindu community should learn to face the society and find opportunities where Hindus can offer to the broader community the powerful of message of Vedanta, Mishra said.

The youth should channel their idealism within their community first, set their own house in order and then approach the broader community, he said.

Asit R. Shah, a senior at the University of Houston, and a member of the Board of Regents of the UH System, appointed to the board by the governor of Texas, was the keynote speaker.

Changing the perception is a challenge. For example, the UH System is perceived as having no prestige or reputation. though that is not the case. What you with what you have is important than where you stud, Shah said.

More does not necessarily mean the better. People should be genuinely involved in what they are invested in. Invest in the future which offers an opportunity to learn, Shah said.

Anshuman Desai, president of Hindus of Greater Houston, made a presentation on the goals, mission and future activities of the organization.

The goal is to united all Hindu organization and achieve one united voice for Hindus, Desai said. Empowering the youth and women and encouraging more youth involvement in HGH are among the objectives, he said. Different task groups are being established to achieve the goals, Desai said. Eventually, the Hindu community should have a federation of Hindu organizations, he said.

Vijay Pallod, director on the HGH board, said demand for services from HGH is growing. HGH maintains good rapport with the media and manages to receive positive publicity for Hindu causes. HGH is also planning an International Yoga Day later this year in Houston. Because of the growth of the HGH, the organizations needs a full-time executive director, Pallod said. HGH needs funds to achieve this and progress further, he said.

Jugal Malani, president of India House and a member of the HGH advisory board, appealed to the community to generously donate to the HGH for its varied activities.

Earlier, Chinamaya Mission Balavihar Choir gave a presentation.

Shobha Ravishankar, a Balavihar teacher at Chinmaya Mission Houston, made a presentation on the Balavihar program. She gave glimpses of the curriculum, developed by Acharya Darshnaben Nanavaty at CMH Houston, which is followed at CMH Balavihars all over the world. The lesson plan includes a progression from KG to High School level, and relies on age-appropriate texts and graphics drawing on the fountain of Hindu scriptures.

The program was emceed by a CMH Balavihar alumnus Anand Naik. Sanjay Jain and Richa Dixit directors on the board of HGH were co-chairs of the gala organizing committee.

The 2016 Hindu Youth Awards gala will be held at Sri Meenakshi Temple Society in Pearland.

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