11/29/2011 10:57 am ET Updated Jan 29, 2012

Thanksgiving and Seva

The benefits of these challenging times is that we see more clearly the gifts we have been given. What would our life be like without the caring love of our friends and families, the opportunity to have learned from and be loved by those who are no longer with us, the support of our friends and co-workers, the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of others and the beauty of nature.

We, at Hindu American Seva, are grateful that our focus on nation building resulted in a historic White House conference, "Energizing Dharmic Seva: Impacting Change in America and Abroad." The Hindu community made its White House Debut on the national stage not only as an equal participant, but a veritable host to them. The community's collective hard work brought the Hindu voice and values to the forefront and showed we are successfully weaving our traditions and culture in the pluralistic tapestry of America. As New Americans we are showing our willingness to take responsibility in rebuilding our country, and are gratified Asim Mishra, Deputy Chief of Staff, National Corporation and Community Services, highlighted our Hindu pride and values in our services on his reflections on Service at Diwali event at the White House.

"I am proud to serve an administration that espouses these same Hindu values and demonstrates them every day -- whether by helping to improve schools or connecting our veterans and military families to meaningful jobs -- through the support of all Americans... On July 29, I joined nearly 200 Hindu-Americans and members of the Dharmic community at the White House to talk about how they can leverage this community's greatest asset -- the tradition of seva to solve pressing community challenges.

At the CNCS, we believe seva can achieve scalable solutions that address our nation's most pressing problems. Organizations like the Hindu American Seva Charities have the power to help young people succeed in the lowest performing schools, expand health access, build a greener future, and foster economic opportunity. For us, success is not measured only by how many serve, but how many lives have been changed... The Dharmic community is leading great work that will -- in the words of President Obama -- win the future by out-educating, out-building, and out-innovating on a universal scale."

We are grateful for UtsavSeva, which invokes the spiritual values of the festivals with community service, augmented community building such as the historic event to light 3,000 candles to celebrate Diwali and offer selfless service to honor those impacted by 9/11 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks; impacted poverty by feeding the homeless across the nation.

Yoga, an intrinsic part of Vedantic Hindu traditions, has become a universal language of spiritual exercise in the United States, crossing many lines of religions and cultures. We are grateful, serving as a partner with the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition we were able to promote it nationally to all, including low income communities to impact childhood obesity, bullying and education.

We are grateful to have worked to heal interfaith gaps in Alabama, in Kentucky and other states, through our values of ahmisa (nonviolence) and pluralistic acceptance embodied in the ancient Vedic scriptures.

We are grateful for working with youth on campus in strengthening Hindu sacred spaces allowing them the freedom to practice their own religion, in augmenting development of seva centers to serve the needs of our own community and the community at large.

And we are very thankful to our volunteers, our AmeriCorps Vistas, and our Board for their hard work and creativity which allowed us to accomplish our historic journey, with a miniscule budget. With gratitude for what we have and where we have reached, we turn to the divine to bless and sustain our collective effort and keep the lamp of seva lit.

We are confident the national debut will grow into a sustainable national movement.