June 1, 2008, Omaha, NE, USA - In a historic religious event that occurred on Saturday, May 31, 2008, eight Americans were formally welcomed into the ancient tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) in a sacred initiation (diksha) ceremony at the Hindu Temple of Nebraska.
The ceremony was overseen by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D.), the Resident Acharya (Spiritual Preceptor) of the temple, and Professor Alekha Dash, who conducted the traditional fire ceremony (yagya) central to any authentic Hindu initiation rite.
Though Hinduism is not a religion that overtly seeks converts, many Americans and Europeans have nonetheless enthusiastically embraced the tradition in the past. This represents the first time in history, however, that such a large number of Americans have been welcomed into the tradition at one time.
In accepting Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya as their guru (spiritual teacher), these newly committed American Hindus vowed to devote themselves to living a Dharma lifestyle, to meditate upon God each day, and to express compassion toward all they encounter.
Included among the new initiates were: two professors, a practicing psychiatrist, a retired lawyer, and a nurse, among others.
First Non-Indian Women Awarded with Brahmana Thread
In a related historical development, Ms. Heather "Tulasi" Mortensen was awarded brahmana initiation during the same ceremony, and awarded with a sacred thread. Though traditionally Hindu women were known to have been given sacred threads during Vedic times, this practice came to a stop at some point in the history of Hinduism. Thus, this thread-giving ceremony (known as upavita-samskara in Sanskrit) represents the very first time in world history that a non-Indian woman has been awarded such a sacred thread. Sri Acharyaji stated to the large audience observing this event that "I know that this historic precedent is only the beginning of the reclamation of an ancient and important Vedic tradition. My hope is that this represents only the first of many thousands of women who I will see awarded the sacred thread in my lifetime."
The two hour event was followed by a celebration dinner in the temple's auditorium.
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