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Cadets observe Hindu religious holiday
Cadet 2nd Class Ian Sweeney (center) participates in a Sri Ganesh Chaturthi at the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel Sept. 21, 2012. Sweeney is assigned to Cadet Squadron 18. Also pictured are Mythili Bachu (left), chairperson of the Council of Hindu Temples of North America and president of the United Hindu Jain Temples of Washington, D.C., and Srinivasacharya Gudimella (right), a priest with the Sri Venkateswara Temple of Colorado in Castle Rock, Colo. The ceremony is held to honor the birthday of Ganesha, one of the major gods of the Hindu pantheon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)
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Cadets observe Hindu religious holiday

Posted 9/26/2012   Updated 9/26/2012 Email story   Print story


by Don Branum
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

9/26/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A group of 10 cadets and 20 other guests attended a Hindu service in the Cadet Chapel's multipurpose room Sept. 21 to honor one of the major gods of the Hindu pantheon, marking the first Hindu service in the Cadet Chapel in recent memory.

The Academy chaplain's office provided support for the event, which was led by Hindu priests with the Sri Venkateswara Temple of Colorado.

Cadet 3rd Class Anish Bachu of Cadet Squadron 09 called the event historic and thanked the chaplains, particularly Chaplain (Col.) Robert Bruno and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Brantingham, for their support.

"My mother approached Brantingham a few weeks ago regarding having a service for the Hindu cadets, and he immediately agreed," Bachu said. "The chaplains were very excited for the Hindu cadets, and my chain of command was very open and encouraging as well."

The Sri Ganesha Chaturthi held to observe the birthday of the Hindu god Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, according to Hindu lore. He is depicted as a man with four arms and an elephant's head. Hindus typically pray to Ganesha before starting projects, so the chance to observe his birthday early in the academic year was special, Bachu said.

"While the service was short, it was a good beginning for us Hindus, something we can relate to," he said. "We hope to see this as an annual event."

Bachu's mother, Mythili Bachu, is the chairperson of the Council of Hindu Temples of North America and president of the United Hindu Jain Temples of Washington, D.C. She worked with the Academy's chaplains to set up the observance.

"I felt very satisfied with the whole program and very much grateful to the leadership for providing an opportunity for Hindu cadets to pray to our gods," she said. "I am happy to see that we can have an annual service for all the Hindu cadets at the Academy. This is a great start for Hindus in the United States."

She also thanked Chief Diversity Officer Adis Vila, Chaplain (Maj.) Joshua Narrowe and Chaplain (Capt.) Heather Bodwell for their support.

Hinduism is one of the world's largest religions, with between 900 million and 1 billion followers. It is also one of the world's oldest religions, with evidence of its existence going back more than 4,500 years.

10/10/2012 9:23:20 AM ET
This is a very good start in United States DoD especially at the USAF Academy the pinnacle of Power.Many Hindu's are serving in Military and now celebrating our culture festivals with all in US Military makes us more proud to the country we defend the USofA.
Hitul Thaker, Pentagon VA-DC
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