Hindu prayer to open first ’21 Washougal council meeting

Prominent religious leader Rajan Zed will read from ancient Sanskrit scriptures

A prominent religious leader will recite a Hindu prayer at the beginning of the city of Washougal’s virtual council meeting on Monday, Jan 11.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will read an invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures, urging council members and others to “always keep the welfare of others in mind,” according to a news release.

“The invocation is a routine part of our council meetings,” said Washougal city manager David Scott. “A resolution that the council passed several years ago indicates that anyone who would like to present an invocation at the start of a council meeting can contact us and be scheduled to do that. They may be faith-based or not. We have a gentleman who has indicated that he will be delivering a Hindu invocation. The virtual context probably expands the dynamic of who can deliver an invocation. Certainly, this will be the first Hindu invocation during my tenure (as city manager).”

Zed, a Reno, Nevada resident, will recite lines from “Rig-Veda,” an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, and Hindu scriptures “Upanishads” and “Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord).” He will start and end the prayer with “Om,” a sacred sound and spiritual symbol of Indian religions.

He is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, a Reno, Nevada-based organization that purports to promote Hindu identity, enhance the understanding of Hinduism and foster interreligious dialogue. He also serves as a spiritual advisor to the National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families, a Nevada-based organization that helps families and couples in “mixed” relationships to accept and understand their differences and similarities.

Zed is “a distinguished religious statesman who has taken up Hindu, interfaith, religion, environment, Roma and other causes all over the world,” according to his website.

He has appeared as a panelist for “On Faith,” an interactive religious conversation produced by Newsweek and WashingtonPost.com, and produces a weekly religion discussion for Gannett, the United States’ largest newspaper publishing company.

He has recited Hindu prayers at many city council, senate and house-of-representative meetings across the United States. He delivered the first Hindu invocation in the history of the United States Senate in 2007.

Hinduism is the oldest and third-largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents, including 3 million in the United States.