LETTER FROM EUROPE
presented in December a groundbreaking memorandum to European Parliament (EP)
President Hans-Gert Pottering asking Hinduism to be recognized fully and
officially in all the 27 member states of EP.
Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman, who met with Pottering in his Brussels office
on an historic invitation to discuss Hindu issues and promote interfaith
dialogue, listed fifteen more European Hindu issues besides recognition.
who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, also asked for announcement
of Diwali as major festival of European Union (EU), consulting Hindus at
national levels on religious and related issues as equal partners, adequate
Hindu representation in various EU bodies, fair treatment of all major
religions instead of patronizing only one kind of religion or denomination,
complete freedom of practice of chosen religion by the citizens, availability
of suitable and adequate facilities for Hindu funerals, and promotion of
Zed said that acquiring permits for building new Hindu temples was a difficult
and cumbersome process and many times ended in delay or denial. He asked for
introduction of comparative religion as a subject in high schools, including
all the major religions of the world, and added that states should work for
more assimilation and inclusiveness of all major religions.
told Pottering that EU should ensure better labeling of foods clarifying that
whether the contents included any non-vegetarian (meat, seafood, eggs, etc.)
matter or the contents were purely vegetarian.
Zed further noted that there were reports that in a EU country, schools
refused to mention "Hindu" in the "religion" column of
student records and asked students/parents to bring certificates to prove that
they were Hindu. This practice should be stopped immediately and whatever
religion the student (in case he/she was adult) or his/her parents (in case
he/she was minor) mention, should be included in the records, Zed stressed,
pointed out that in a EU country, municipalities reportedly avoided writing
"Hindu" in the "religion" column on birth certificates and
instead wrote "no religion" or left blank. Municipalities in EU area
should be clearly directed to write whatever religion parents of the child
(whose birth certificate they were issuing) told them to write, without asking
also mentioned that there were allegations of glass ceiling for top jobs and
was the first major formal visit of a Hindu leader to EP during the current
European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID). Various other world religious
leaders who visited EP as part of EYID include Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew,
Dalai Lama, Grand Mufti of Syria and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
Zed stated in the memo that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion
of the world with a rich philosophical thought. EP and EU should be more
attentive to the needs of Hinduism and Hindus. Number of Hindus had been
growing in Europe and now every country of Europe had considerable Hinduism
presence, with total numbers reaching around two million.
recited Gayatri Mantra from Rig-Veda (composed around 1, 500 BCE) in
the presence of Pottering and others at the beginning of the meeting and
presented Pottering a copy of Bhagavad-Gita (ancient Hindu scripture).
Deputy Head of President's Cabinet, Ciril Stokelj, was also present in the
Zed read the groundbreaking first Hindu opening prayer in United States Senate
in Washington DC during its 218 years history and various state legislatures
of USA. He is one of the panelists for "On Faith", a prestigious
interactive conversation on religion produced jointly by Newsweek and
washingtonpost.com. He is Spiritual Advisor to the National Association of
Interchurch and Interfaith Families, Director of Interfaith Relations of
Nevada Clergy Association, and has been recognized by various organizations
for his efforts in interfaith dialogue.
EP consists of 785 elected members from 27 countries representing 492 million
people. The EP and European Council established EYID in view of increasingly
important role of intercultural dialogue in fostering European identity and
© Globalom Media 2001-2009