Security from Faith: Event at Consulate of India shows the confluence of faith, culture and leadership

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Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi among the eminent speakers at event in honor of “Hollywood to the Himalayas” by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati

Our Bureau
New York

As the Security Council convenes in the United Nations, there was a special event at the at the Consulate General of India in New York City. The event, which highlighted the security that comes from faith, was held on September 9.  In a special confluence of faith, culture and leadership, leaders from the United Nations, from Government and from Interfaith came together to celebrate the power of faith to heal and transform ourselves, our communities and our world.

Eminent speakers at the event included Mrs. Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs & Culture, Government of India; Ms. Alice Nderitu, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the UN, and the head of the United Nations Office of Genocide Prevention; Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President, Parmarth Niketan, Founder/Chair Global Interfaith WASH Alliance; Prof. Azza Karam, Secretary-General, Religions for Peace; Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, author of Hollywood to the Himalayas and Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Parmarth Niketan; Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India to New York; Audrey Kitagawa, JD, President/Founder of the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation, President of the Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family; and Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute.

The event was held in honor of the recent publication of #1 bestseller “Hollywood to the Himalayas: A Journey of Healing and Transformation”, in which American-born Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati shares the unexpected way her life was transformed when, twenty-five years ago, she traveled to India with a backpack, and had an experience of the Divine on the sacred Ganga River. Faith, and a connection to God, became that which freed her from personal suffering and that which has led to her meaningful international work as a faith leader in the development sector, planting and nourishing seeds for peace, focusing on world health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and the rights and empowerment of women and girls.

After beginning with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp and recitation of auspicious prayers, Sadhvi Bhagawatiji presented each of the dignitaries on the dais a copy of Hollywood to the Himalayas. The event was moderated by Prof. Azza Karam, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace.  

Speaking at the event, Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji said: “I’ve seen how faith can harm us and also heal us. Faith can divide or unite. The choice is ours – how we use it! We have been dedicated to using faith to help and heal.  We have seen the power of faith to change how people think and how they live.  We used the power of faith to make people know that open defecation is total devastation. We used the power of faith to help people understand they need to build toilets, not only temples. We used the power of faith to keep our rivers and river banks clean. It’s so fitting that the East and the West come together here today in celebration of Sadhviji’s new book Hollywood to the Himalayas. For 25 years she has been a bridge of the East and the West, of science and spirituality and now of the United Nations and United Creations!”

In her address, Ms. Alice Nderitu said: “Sadhvi Bhagawati represents those religious leaders and actors who are taking a strong stand on the protection and promotion of human rights and on the prevention of atrocity crimes at international and local levels. She chose to help, support, and protect the most discriminated and marginalised. Sadhvi Bhagawati embodies the quintessence of the local peacebuilders.   As United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, I will continue to partner with Sadhvi Bhagawati and other women religious actors to advance the prevention of atrocity crimes globally.  Only with their contribution, we can strive towards a world free from atrocity crimes. Therefore, dear Sadhvi, please count on my full support, and that of my office.”

Speaking at the event, Sadhvi Bhagawatiji shared how the power of faith had transformed her life: “Having grown up in Hollywood with all the opportunity and all the privilege, what I didn’t have was faith or a connection to God.  Through the powerful, totally unexpected experience of Oneness with the divine that I had on the banks of the Ganga River, I realized that I am part of the sacred perfection of the universe, that I am One with all. That awareness and connection to faith transformed my life and healed me from all the ways I’d suffered. Now, I’ve been so blessed to be able to share the power of faith with so many others and to use it for so much good, ranging from women’s empowerment and equality to environmental protection to water preservation.”

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