Challenges to overseas Hindu temples
Twelfth Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference (HMEC) – 2017
The 12th HMEC was held in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Waterfront Hotel from September 15 to 17, 2017 on the theme “Hindu Temples and Institutions -Challenges of 21st Century” The Hindu temples and institutions are facing challenges around the globe as technology and social changes affect traditional beliefs and practices. The conference enabled Hindu leaders to look at these trends and rise to the challenges presented by the digital age in the areas of temple management, religious programs, youth engagement, serving seniors and society.
In the inaugural session Swamini Svatmavidyananda Saraswati of Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam painted a vision for the HMEC. Dr. Vijay Reddy warmly welcomed the conference attendees to Indianapolis on behalf of the host team. Next, Dr. Raman Khanna from Hindu American Foundation presented a perspective on Hindu Activism highlighting the theme of ‘Who Controls the Past, Controls the Future.’ In his inaugural address, Swami Pratyagbodhananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam inspired all with a call to face the ‘Challenges of the 21 st Century.’
Since its inception, HMEC has undertaken many worthwhile projects and initiatives. A summary was presented to share progress with the audience. Major among them are HMPC (Hindu Mandir Priests’ Conference), WHC (World Hindu Congress), HAVAN (Hindu American Vanaprasthi Network), Publication of Sanskar books, Gita Distribution and HMEC Alignment with National Services.
The session ended with an update from Sanjay Mehta, General Secretary of VHP of America, highlighting the achievements of HMEC thus far and encouraging all to continue on this journey.
There were three workshop sessions for the Youth and Young Adults, designed and conducted by the Young Adults: Hinduism, Social Challenges and Other Questions of Today, Shastras/Spiritual Content Distribution for Millennials and Digital Guide for Mandirs. As an output of this workshop series, the youth and young adult workshop leads intend to release a Digital Guide for Mandirs in the next couple of months.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson praised the efforts of HMEC to bring Hindu Institutions onto one platform. Mayor Joe Hogsett shared his appreciation for the Hindu community and commended the Indianapolis Host Team for being the driving force behind this successful conference. Sanatan Dharma scholarships were handed out to the winners, followed by an appreciation for the five HMEC Interns.
The Hindu Activism panel called for a united effort by all institutions followed by an Indic Faith panel discussion promoting solidarity of all faiths. The parallel tracks and workshops were summarized by the young HMEC interns, who also candidly shared their conference experiences.
In the past 11 years, averages of 100+ temples have participated across North America and the Caribbean in HMEC. The conference sessions were well received by delegates from USA, Canada, Caribbean, and India.
This year, there were over 30 grand hosts and co-hosts of the conference, mainly from USA and Canada. Some 200 adult and youth delegates were drawn from over 70 organizations and four countries participated in the conference.