Rajan Zed, whose historic first Hindu prayer in the American Senate early this month faced protests from the visitors' gallery, was honoured in Nevada.
Various religious and community leaders came together on Wednesday and honoured Zed for his "selfless service" in bringing different communities together.
For the first time in US history, Zed opened the country's Senate July 12 session with the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra from the Rig-Veda, the oldest Hindu scripture composed around 1,500 BC. But three Christian protesters who protested loudly against the prayer disrupted the event.
Zed, who is the director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, Nevada, was garlanded by Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., president of Nevada Clergy Association. He was presented with a plaque by Rabbi Myra on behalf of the interfaith community of northern Nevada, which said, "The interfaith clergy and leaders of northern Nevada proudly recognise and honour this unprecedented achievement."
"With this gesture, we want to send the word of love and mutual respect from Nevada. We are proud of Rajan for his message of peace, brotherhood, selflessness and unity, which he delivered in the US Senate. He created a national milestone by reciting the first Hindu prayer in US Senate on July 12 since its formation in 1789," Reverend Savoy Jr. said on the occasion.
Zed said: "More inclusive understanding of religion is needed. The Bhagavad Gita says - whatever form (of the divine) any devotee with faith wishes to worship, I make that faith of his steady. The challenge is for us all to learn to live together with our philosophical differences, not only in peace but in some sort of trust and mutual loyalty. Existence of different faiths is positively willed by God, as a sign of God's bountifulness. We were all looking for the truth."
Shanti Shanti, the only Sanskrit rock band in the world, delivered a Sanskrit number on the occasion in his honour, a press note said.
Nicholas F. Frey, a leader of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, remarked about Zed, "Thank you for enlarging this spirit of respect and appreciation for differences which unites us."
Zed is also public relations officer of the India Association of northern Nevada, affiliated with World Congress of Faiths, London. He lives in Reno with wife Shilpa Zed, a community volunteer; son Navgeet Zed, recipient of Nevada Peacemaker of the Year award; and daughter Palkin Zed, an author of two published books.