Lawmakers and Community Leaders Unite at National Hindu Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

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Washington, DC – Lawmakers, Hindu students, researchers, and community leaders gathered in a packed room for the 3rd National Hindu Advocacy Day on the Hill. The event, organized by the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), focused on the myriad issues facing Hindus in the United States. Approximately 25 lawmakers were represented, including congressional representatives and staffers from both the Democratic and Republican parties, who attended the event to address concerns ranging from stereotypical colonial frameworks and verbal slurs to the vandalization of multiple temples.

Over 100 delegates, including a significant number of Hindu youth from 15 states, united in a powerful display of strength and resilience. More than 40 core CoHNA volunteers visited over 115 congressional offices to advocate for support of H.Res.1131. This resolution condemns Hinduphobia and attacks on temples while celebrating the contributions of the Hindu-American community.

“From students to retired community members of diverse backgrounds, CoHNA’s Advocacy Day has grown steadily to become an important mechanism through which our community engages with lawmakers on the Hill,” remarked CoHNA President Nikunj Trivedi. “We are also glad to see other organizations and non-Hindu allies join us to support the causes that matter to our community and especially our youth.”

A highlight of the event was the diverse voices of students. A powerful panel of Hindu students from Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the University of Georgia shared heartfelt testimonies about the challenges they face on campus. Rutvij Holay spoke about being mocked for having a small space for Hindu worship in his dorm room and consoling a Kashmiri friend traumatized by campus displays sanitizing the ethnic cleansing his community faced. Aryan Sawant discussed the isolation of being an openly proud Hindu on campus and dealing with misinformation from professors denying anti-Hindu hate. Anvita Yerramsetty shared how awareness of anti-Hindu hate in high school strengthened her resolve to stay proud of her roots, influencing her college application decisions.

Surya Naga, the Youth Director for Hindu on Campus, presented data from student testimonials nationwide, highlighting the impact of Hinduphobia on students’ psyches. Experiences included students being told to wipe off bindis, attempts to rip off sacred threads, and being made fun of for worshiping Hindu deities, among other incidents.

American Hindus have faced a turbulent year, with a noticeable rise in hate crimes against Hindus. Data shows an increase in academic Hinduphobia and attacks on sacred spaces, with six Hindu temples attacked in California between November 2023 and January 2024. Despite this, little action or lasting outrage followed.

Congressional Support

The event began with Congressman Max Miller (R-OH), who emphasized the importance of religious freedom and his support for H.Res.1131. He expressed empathy for the Hindu community’s issues and assured his continued stance against hate and bigotry. Congressman Shri Thanedar (D-MI), the force behind H.Res.1131, stressed his intolerance for Hinduphobia and other forms of hate. He shared his immigration story, illustrating the American dream and the ability to overcome challenges.

Congressman Rich McCormick (R-GA) welcomed the growing engagement of the Hindu American and Indian American communities in policymaking, supporting H.Res.1131 and urging the community to pursue the American dream while honoring their traditions. Other lawmakers, such as Congressman Glen Grothman (R-WI) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), also expressed solidarity with the community and congratulated CoHNA for their advocacy efforts.

Several lawmakers addressed the importance of tackling immigration issues, particularly the Green Card backlog, which significantly impacts the Hindu-American immigrant community.

Community leaders and representatives from various organizations, including HinduACTion, Howard County Jewish Advocacy Group (HoCoJAG), ISKCON, and others, also attended the event.

Data and Research

Aaron Gross, a Research Fellow at Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), highlighted the alarming rise of Hinduphobia in North America. He pointed to the involvement of Khalistan movement supporters in promoting anti-Hindu sentiment online, driven by bot networks amplifying violence-inciting posts. Gross emphasized the need for law enforcement to address online hate before it escalates into further violence.

Rana Reddy, CoHNA’s Policy Fellow, discussed a report from Carnegie Mellon University, showing how geopolitical players use Hinduism to target India, resulting in global Hinduphobia. He called for counter-strategies and robust cybersecurity measures to combat digital threats and sophisticated disinformation tactics targeting Hindus globally.

The 3rd National Hindu Advocacy Day on the Hill was a significant event, bringing together various stakeholders to address pressing issues facing the Hindu community in the United States and advocating for a safer, more inclusive society.

Rohit Sharma
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Rohit Sharma is a Senior Journalist who has lived in Washington DC since 2007. He currently is a contributor to Dainik Bhaskar, the world's third largest newspaper by readership. His opinion pieces feature on News 9 and The Quint. He has been invited as guest on the BBC, NDTV, India Today, AajTak, Times Now, Republic, Zee news and others. His work has featured in six Indian Languages.

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