Hindus have applauded U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) for celebrating Ganesh-Chaturthi at its Colorado Springs (Colorado) campus.
Commending the Academy for this historic milestone, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, called it a “step in the right direction”. Thus opening-up the cadets to major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them effective global leaders of tomorrow, Zed added.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged other US Military Service Academies like United States Military Academy (West Point), United States Naval Academy, United States Cost Guard Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) also to organize such Hindu religious services and all the five academies to celebrate Diwali festival each year.
According to USAFA website, cadets and 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”. Besides worship service, it also reportedly included setting-up of an altar with Lord Ganesh image, lamps lighting, incense burning and traditional Indian dance performance.
Popular festival of Ganesh-Chaturthi is celebrated on fourth day of the bright lunar fortnight of Bhadrapada, which may last for up to ten days. One of most widely worshipped deities in Hinduism, elephant headed (with a broken tusk) and human bodied Lord Ganesh is regarded as god of wisdom and good luck, patron of learning and remover of obstacles, and invoked at the commencement of all undertakings. Business people and students present their books to Lord Ganesh to ensure good fortune.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Vision of the Academy, US Air Force’s premier institution established in 1954, includes “producing leaders of character”. Its Cadet Chapel, “all-faith house of worship designed to meet the spiritual needs of cadets”, hosts between 500,000 and one million visitors annually. Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, Brig. Gen. Gregory J. Lengyel, Brig. Gen. Dana H. Born and Susan C. Schwab are Superintendent, Commandant of Cadets, Dean of the Faculty, and Board of Visitors Chair respectively of the Academy.