By: Devina Persaud
Sunday, September 10, 2017 marked another successful Shri Surya Narayan Mandir (SSNM) Walkathon, where devotees of the mandir and members of the community joined us for an intense, gratifying 5-mile walk.
The walk began in the courtyard of our mandir at 172nd street, where all the walkers gathered to sing the national anthems of India, Guyana, and America – honoring our long, rich, and diverse history as members of the Indo-Guyanese community. After a few words from our spiritual leader, Guruji Pandit Ram Hardowar, and a few words from officers of the 103rd precinct, who secured our walk, we set off on our journey.
The walk was 5 miles total in distance, we ventured down 172nd st. then along Hillside Ave., until finally turning onto Francis Lewis Blvd and completing our walk back to mandir on Jamaica Ave. With only one short water break, our group successfully completed the 5 miles in just 1 hour and 34 minutes. Our walk comprised of participants of all ages, ranging from 6 years old to 80 years old, who were all very proud to have accomplished such a task successfully and in high spirits.
The opportunity to walk has been a privilege and joy for many members of Shri Surya Narayan Mandir for many years now. As Guruji reminded us at the beginning of our walk, not only are we walking to remember our ancestors and the great sacrifices they made for us as well as the sacrifices of all those following the terrorist attack of 9/11, but also to remember those who were affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
SSNM & SN SOS Give Back to Hurricane Victims and Local Community
In light of the tragedies suffered by those in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, etc. by the recent hurricanes and natural disasters, the devotees and executives of SSNM and SN SOS came together with one goal – to help those who are suffering. Spearheaded by Guruji Pt. Ram Hardowar (Spiritual Acharya of SSNM & Founding Director of SN SOS) and SN SOS, otherwise known as the Seva team, they were able to coordinate efforts to collect monetary donations towards the victims. SN SOS, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, coordinates such efforts and donates 100% of its proceeds directly to those in such dire situations or organizations that would do so.
The mission statement of the Surya Narayan Seva Outreach Sang (SN SOS) is as follows:
“As a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization headquartered in Jamaica, New York. Members of SN SOS come from diverse backgrounds and consist of professionals, pandits and other select members of the community. Our humanitarian effort is seen as a way of extending the boundaries of the Mandir beyond its physical constraints and opening up its door to many more people in a time of need. Our mission is to provide medical care with a focus on prevention and a healthy lifestyle, social, economic and educational assistance to people in need around the world especially in Guyana, New York and India. Service will be provided to the underserved through love and compassion in our actions. The values and morals thought to us by our religion Sanatan Dharma will be our guiding light as we move forward to help the needy and less fortunate.”
A donation of $3,500 was made to the Lions Club International, which is the largest service club organization with 46,000 clubs and 1.4 million members worldwide. With notable leaders like Bhai Naidoo Veerapen from our very own Indo-Caribbean community, as well as our very own Vishal Hardowar being part of the organization, we are confident that our donation, through this organization, will be put to good use. It should be noted (in case you are looking to donate), that not all organizations donate the entirety of funds to the cause they claim to support; however, Lions Club International is unique in that 100% of proceeds go towards the cause they support.
However, SSNM and SN SOS did not stop here. They also donated an amount of $500.00 to the NYPD Explorer’s Program of the 103rd Precinct. The Explorer’s program is a program in NYC that allows teenagers and young adults to learn about law enforcement and careers. The program is open to people between the ages of 14 and 20, and encourages ideas in career, service, leadership, social aspects, fitness, and the outdoors.
As Sergeant Faizon explained, there is a fee for the youths to sign up and participate fully in this program. However, often, some interested youths are unable to pay their fees and are therefore unable to fully participate in the program. Therefore, the donation by SSNM and SN SOS would help to defer that cost for the youths in need, and allow them to pursue their interests.
Just in case you have been keeping up, the Saraswati Vidya Niketan (SVN) of Guyana, which is run by Swami Aksharananda, also sent 3 of their top graduates to study at York College, in order to complete their undergraduate education and return to Guyana to educate the youths of SVN. In order to help defray the cost of living, the SN SOS provided to them a generous donation of $1,000.00. Coincidentally these three graduates are past recipients of the Pt. Ram Hardowar Scholarship Fund.
Still seeing the need to do more for our community, SSNM and SN SOS decided to take on a project of a different nature. For this upcoming Diwali, the devotees of the Mandir will visit Jamaica Hospital and will donate gifts to the children and seniors of the medical center. There is so much knowledge and love within all our Hindu Mandirs that we as a community must share it with our fellow neighbors. Sanatan Dharma teaches all of us that we must help those in need, and the devotees of Surya Mandir is simply putting such teaching into action. Congratulations to Pt. Ram Hardowar, Pt. Manoj Prashad, Pt Anand Hardowar, Dr Sanjay Ramkissoon, Dr Parmeshwar Mahabir, Rohan Bisram, the rest of the executives and most importantly the members of Surya Mandir for being such trailblazers within our community.