Hundreds of Indian-Americans paid tribute to the innocent lives that were lost during the Mumbai terror attacks on Sunday November 30th, 2008 at over 64 BAPS Mandirs across North America. The special prayer assembly was held to pray for peace, strength and stability for the victims and their families. An overwhelming presence by various communities and their leaders demonstrated a spirit of unity and peace.
A special message of prayer and condolence from Pramukh Swami Maharaj was passed on to the attendees. His words brought faith and comfort to many individuals across the country. Senator Charles Schumer of New York expressed his gratitude for the assembly held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Flushing, NY. “It is imperative for us to unite and comfort each other at a time like this. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir has filled that void for the community here in New York.” Among the other leaders present at the assembly in New York included, Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Steve Israel and Councilmembers John Liu and James Genarro.
Governor Jon Corzine, Congressman Frank Pallone, State Senator Barbara Buono and Assemblymen Upendra Chivukula and Patrick J. Diegnan showed their support by participating in the prayer assembly in Edison, New Jersey.
Governor Jon Corzine conveyed his cndolences. “It is important for all to be firm and pray for peace. As Pramukh Swami Maharaj has requested we need to have a non-violent response. Those who bring evil to this world will not win so do not let fear win you.” said Governor Corzine.
Consul General of India Ashok Attri conveyed his condolences at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago while the assembly in Houston was attended by Congressman Al Green, Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella and Consul General of India, Sanjiv Arora.
Many community leaders showed their support and remorse at the prayer assembly held in Toronto, including, Canadian MP Hon. Tony Clement, Canadian MP Hon. George Smitherman, Canadian MP Hon. Bob Rae, Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, and John Tory, Leader of the Ontario PC Party.
The Consul General of Great Britain to Atlanta Martin Rickerd, the Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States, Reda Mansour, and Honorary Consul General of India to the United States in Georgia, Kenneth Cutshaw paid their respects to the innocent victims at the assembly held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta.
Also present at the prayer assemblies around North America were Pennsylvania State Representative Gene DiGiralamo, the Mayor of San Jose Chuck Reed, the Mayor of Milpitas Jose Esteves, the Mayor of Clifton James Anzaldi and the former Mayor of Lansdale Mike Denazio.
The prayer assemblies concluded with an ancient vedic prayer for peace. The prayer asked for peace in the world, in the skies, the earth and the water. It asked for peace in the animals, in nature and among humans. It asked for peace in the hearts and minds of all living beings! Rita Sharma, a participant at the prayers at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, Georgia put it – “The ancient hymns touched my heart like never before. I could feel the voice of our community unite and reach out in prayer. God had to be listening!”