Announcements and Events

SAMFSN - 2016 - Listed below are completed and upcoming Events. Please write to support@samfsn.org if you wish to participate in any upcoming event.

SAMFSN CFC ( Combined Federal Campaign)  ID is 86806. Please consider making a CFC contributon in 2016 for SAMFSN.

Dec 15th - SAMFSN will take part in the Annual "Wreath of America" event in Baltimore Cemetery. We welcome families, kids and volunteers for this solemn, emotional and fulfilling event. We place wreaths and flowers on as many grave stones that we possibly can. 

Nov 30 - SAMFSN has been invited to participate in a Charity Fair  at the DoD- Joint Staff on November 30th  in Washington, DC at Fort McNair .  

Dec 6th - SAMFSN has been invited to participate in the National Forum for AAPI Military Members and Veterans organized by the White House AAPI forum. The event is at Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery, VA

November, 2016 - All through November SAMFSN will be taking part in Veterans Day celebrations in multiple locations in MD, VA to honor our veterans and first responders. This is a annual recurring event for SAMFSN. 

Nov 9th, 2016 - SAMFSN was invited and participated in the CFC charity fair at the NAVY Yard, Washington DC

Nov 3rd, 2016 - SAMFSN sponsored and organized the FIRST ever AAPI Cultural Diversity Event "Festival Of Lights" -DIWALI at the NAVY Yard, Washington D.C. Please see our events section for more details and pictures of the event.

Nov 2nd, 2016 - SAMFSN will be organizing the annual DIWALI celebration at the Pentagon, DC

Sept 29, 2016 - SAMFSN was invited and participated in the CFC Charity Fair at Missile Defense Agency (MDA) at Fort Belvoir, VA

June 1, 2016 - Dr. Russel S. Lowe joins SAMFSN as an advisor. Dr. Lowe has 35 years of military service. He has completed a doctoral dissertation focused on the challenges faced by military veterans, returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they transition into civil society

May 5, 2016 - SAMFSN participated in AAPI event at Washington Navy Yard, D.C

April 17, 2016 - SAMFSN conducted event to Honor Veterans and First Responders at Greater Baltimore Temple (GBT), Finksburg, MD

April 15, 2016 - SAMFSN got approved for CFCNCA ( Combined Federal Campaign National Capital Area) for FY 2016. SAMFSN CFC ID is 86806.

Jan 1, 2016 - New Board team for FY16 takes over. New board members consist of Dr R.K. Bhat, Rev Justin Oseterman, Mr. B. Dave and TYPUSA ( Youth organization represented on the board)

2015 - Completed Events - Refer to Events section for more details

December 12 , 2015 - Wreaths for America - SAMFSN participated in this event at the Baltimore National Cemetery

November 2015: Veterans Day Celebrations


November 19, 2015: DIWALI celebration at the Pentagon


November 15, 2015: First DIWALI, Cedar Lane UU Church, Bethesda, MD


November 12, 2015: First DIWALI at Fort Meade, MD


July 22, 2015: SAMFSN Online Forum - Resume Coaching


April 12, 2015: SAMFSN Online Forum - Basic Facts About Hinduism

Click here to view the SAMFSN CFC Flyer

SAMFSN team members have organized/participated in numerous programs, cultural and inter faith events. A brief listing of our events are given below

All the events, programs were organized, conducted with sponsor donations and dedicated volunteer effort. Our sincere thanks to all our volunteers, artists, performers who have given their time and effort to make our programs successful.

SAMFSN Facebook Group -- Please visit and join our facebook group. We post news, articles, requests that are of interest to service members, veterans and military families.

November 3, 2016 - SAMFSN celebrates AAPI Festival of Lights at Washington NAVY Yard

SAMFSN organized and conducted the first ever AAPI "Festival of Lights" cultural event for all personnel at the NAVY Yard. The event was a big success with participation from personnel from all major commands ( NAVFAC, NAVSEA and CNIC) from the NAVY Yard. CAPT Kathyrn Donovan, Chief of Staff of NAVFAC was the honorary guest of honor who spoke about the need for cultural diversity and to create awareness for AAPI heritages and cultures. The event comprised of a brief on how the "Festival of Lights" is celebrated in various AAPI cultures across the world, followed by cultural performances from AAPI groups. The event also promoted CFC Awareness. CFC representatives from several commands were present to answer questions and receive CFC pledges. Raj Rajendran from SAMFSN was the lead organizer for the event.

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May 5, 2016 - AAPI Event at Washington Navy Yard (WNYD) - "Walk Together, Embrace Differences , Build Legacies"

SAMFSN particiapted in conducting the AAPI ( Asian American and Pacific Islander ) event at the Washington NAVY Yard in D.C. Raj Rajendran took the lead in coordinating with the AAPI volunteers at the WNYD. The event was attended by about 300 people from all units at the NAVY yard.  The guiding theme for this event was "Walk Together, Embrace Differences , Build Legacies". The AAPI event was a opportunity to show case diveristy in ethnic cultures and practices.  Lakshmi Swaminathan and her student Nisha Ramamurthy from Natanjali School of Dance represented SAMFSN. Nisha Ramamurthy performed a superb Bharat Natyam dance for the audience. SAMFSN also provided Indian snacks to add to the collection of asian food sampling at the event. The event was attended by senior leaders from all branches of  the NAVY who work at the yard.

WNYD AAPI Program Details

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April 17, 2016: Honoring Veterans and First Responders - SAMFSN in partnership with Greater Baltimore Temple

SAMFSN teamed up with GBT ( Greater Baltimore Temple) to conduct an event to honor our veterans and first reponders on April 17, 2016. The event was held at Greater Baltimore Hindu-Jain Temple, Finksburg, MD. LT Col Varun Puri, LT Col Aarti Puri, SSGT Seanna N Hawley were some of the veterans who participated. First responders from the local Finksburg police and fire department also participated in the event. Dr. Ram Bhat from SAMFSN took the lead and planned logistics for the event with help from the adult Bala Vihar volunteers from GBT.  There were numerous questions from the assembled children to the active duty and first responders about the day to day life and responsibilties. LT COL Varun Puri conducted an excellent short show and tell session with the children with the aid of demonstraton equipment and airplane models. A few pictures from the event are below. SAMFSN gave out certificates for the active duty, first responders and volunteers for the event.

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December 12, 2015: Wreaths of America

SAMFSN team members participated in the Wreaths of America event at the Baltimore National Cemetery. This was the first time we participated at Baltimore rather than Arlington cemetery. Team members placed Wreaths and Roses on the tomb stones of our fallen soldiers. Next year we plan to get many more volunteer families and student involved. Since wreaths are always in shortage, many tomb stones do not get wreaths. This year SAMFSN donated Roses to place on tomb stones. Our goal for 2016 is to donate Roses for at least 1000 tomb stones in 2016

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Wreaths of America at Baltimore National Cemetery

November 2015: Veterans Day Celebrations

SAMFSN Team members organized prayer service to honor our veterans in multiple DC area locations and continued this annual tradition and recurring event in 2015 also. Dr Ram Bhat was the lead organizer for this event. Mr Hitul Thaker, LT COL Varun Puri and several others also helped to conduct these events.  In a few locations the local first responders (Fire Brigade and Police) were also invited to participate. This year the Veterans day prayers were conducted at Chinmaya Misssion, Chantilly, VA, Rajdhani Mandir, Chantilly, VA , Durga Temple, VA locations and Baltimore temple.

November 19, 2015: DIWALI celebration at the Pentagon

SAMFSN team members, Hitul Thaker, Dr Ram Bhat, LT COL Ravi Chaudhary (Retd) helped to celebrate DIWALI at the Pentagon for the 4th year in sucession. Hitul Thaker was the program lead. LT COL Ravi Chaudhary (Retd) gave an inspiring speech on the need for cultural diversity and tolerance within the U.S Armed Forces. Mr Ramani Venkatraman from HACSI was the invited chief guest. A recording of the full program is below. This event was telecast LIVE all across the DOD network. There were several invited active duty Hindu soldiers present for this event from far off base locations. This event was sponsored by the Pentagon chaplain command.

Watch Pentagan DIWALI video- https://www.dvidshub.net/video/437853/hindu-diwali-celebration-pentagon#.Vk6prs4o7qB

November 15, 2015: SAMFSN DIWALI celebration at Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, Bethesda, Maryland

SAMFSN team members worked with the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church to organize and celebrate the FIRST DIWALI at this UU congregation. Rev Abhi Jananmanchi the senior minister of the church gave a brief overview of the mission goals of SAMFSN and requested an offering from the audience to support our efforts. The audience resonated with support for SAMFSN. Maryland delegate Kumar Barve was the invited chief guest.

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Cedar Lane DIWALI - Delegate Kumar Barve speaks to the UU audience
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Cedar Lane DIWALI - Chaplain Dharm offers the Prayer
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Cedar Lane DIWALI - Rev Abhi Janamanchi ( On Left ) offering closing prayers

 November 12, 2015: FIRST DIWALI celebration at Fort Meade, Maryland

SAMFSN team members worked with the Chaplain command at Fort Meade to organize a historical FIRST DIWALI celebration at Fort Meade, Maryland. SAMFSN also received a citation from MD Congressman Chris Van Hollen for our efforts to advance cultural diversity within in the armed forces community. The event was jointly organized by SAMFSN and Chinmaya Mission West (CMW). Acharya Vilasini Ji was the invited chief guest for the event.

Please refer to the link below for the U.S Army news article on this event.

http://www.ftmeadesoundoff.com/news/13032/meade-celebrates-hindu-festival-lights/

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Fort Meade - Acharya Vilasini Ji , CMW conveys the significance of Diwali
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Fort Meade Diwali - Citation received from Congressman Van Hollen for SAMFSN efforts to advance cultural diversity within the U.S Armed Forces

July 22, 2015: SAMFSN Online Forum - Resume Coaching 

SAMFSN conducted its first civilian transition program to help veterans. The purpose of  this online event was to reach out to a larger audience and enable them to attend the session from the convenience of their home. The details of the program that was conducted is given below. An international toll free call # was provided to enable participants to call in from various locations.

Agenda for OnlineForum – July 22 ( Wednesday ) @ 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm:

1) USA Jobs Website – Useful tips to apply for Federal Jobs – Anirudh Garud – 15 minutes
2) Resume Writing Tips by Resume Coach - Ellen Law – 30 + 5 minutes ( Q/A )
3) Any personal support requests from deployed service members and veterans - 5 minutes.

We were fortunate to get help from a very talented and skilled Resume Coach, Ms Ellen Law for this session. Ellen is an active volunteer at AAGEN. ( Asian American Government Executive Network). Ellen has conducted numerous resume coaching sessions at SES ( Senior Executive Service ) level for AAGEN. SAMFSN plans to host more such online events for veterans to transition to civilian careers. The topics will be based on the feedback received from our members.

April 12, 2015: Online Forum - April 12th, Sunday 3 pm -  4 pm

SAMFSN conducted its first online forum to reach out to our deployed soldiers serving in remote base locations. The agenda for the online forum is given below. The purpose was to establish contact with remote base locations. A international toll free call # was provided along with screen sharing webex capability. Dr DC Rao and Anirudh Garud volunteered to conduct the topics for this session.

1.     Brief introductions of SAMFSN team, online participants

2.     Basic Facts About Hinduism - Dr D.C Rao - 20 minutes

3.     USAJobs Website  Introduction to website; Useful Tips for applying to federal jobs - 10 minutes - Anirudh Garud

4.     Q/A - Any requests for care packages; Personal or community support requests; 

Dec 13, 2014: "Wreaths Across America"

Washington D.C - SAMFSN team members participated in the Wreath Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, December 13, 2014. We joined volunteers around the country in laying wreaths on the graves of our fallen heroes, honoring and remembering the efforts of American soldiers past and present. Wreaths Across America is an annual event, and the SAMFSN looks forward to participating in the event again in the future. This event was approved by MCPS ( Montgomery County  Public Schools) for SSL hours. Several students from MCPS joined the SAMFSN team to participate in this event.

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November 2014: Veterans Day Celebrations

SAMFSN team members celebrated Veterans Day all through November in multiple locations in the NCR ( National Capital Region). Dr Ram Bhat took the lead and organized the events in about 10 locations in the DC area. Veterans were invited to worship places and prayers were offered to honor all veterans. In several locations the local police and fire chiefs were also invited and participated in the event. Volunteer veterans went to classrooms and answered questions that children had about the work done by soldiers, life in the U.S Army and career paths in the U.S Army. Some of the locations which celebrated  Veterans day were Chinmaya Mission ( Silver Spring, Virginia and Frederick Chapters), Durga Temple, VA, BAPS Temple, Baltimore Temple. A few pictures from the celebrations are below. The key organizers for this event were Dr Ram Bhat who was the lead and was helped by Hitul Thakker, Chaplain Pratima Dharm and other dedicated volunteers.

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4th October, 2014: SAMFSN Fundraiser To Support Military Families and Veterans

The SAMFSN team conducted its first fundraiser after obtaining its IRS approval for 501 3c status. The event was held at Veterans Place in Silver Spring, MD. Invited guests were MD Congresman Chris Van Hollen, Majority Leader Kumar Barve, MD Veterans Secy Edward Chow and LT Col Ravi Chaudhary. Chaplain CPT Pratima Dharm was the MC. The program consisted of inter faith cultural events and prayer services. The event was supported by dedicated volunteers and sponsors. Mr Devang Shah presented a citation to SAMFSN from the Maryland Governor in recognition for SAMFSN's efforts to help Veterans and Military Families. 

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2014 Diwali Celebrations at Pentagon and Walter Reed Naval Hospital:

We celebrated Diwali at the Pentagon on October 22nd at the Pentagon. Acharya Vilasini Ji from CMWRC was the keynote speaker along with other distinguished guests. Hitul Thaker was the lead organizer for this event at the Pentagon.

We celebrated Diwali at the Walter Reed Naval Hospital on October 17. LT Col Ravi Chaudhary was the keynote speaker at this event. Nitin Shinde and Piragash Swargaloganathan were the lead organizers for this event. 

 

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June 1, 2014: ”Hinduism – Know your facts and Educate Others”

With blessings of Swami Dheerananda and help from CMWRC leadership SAMFSN team members organized a session on “Hinduism – Know your facts and Educate Others”. Dr D.C Rao was very gracious to help us conduct this class. We sincerely thank Dr Rao for his dedicated efforts to these initiatives.

The session was very informative for parents and students who attended. There was a very interactive Q/A session for about 40 minutes in which many questions and concerns were discussed. Chaplain Dharm moderated the Q/A session. Session handouts are available in this website in the “Resources for Hinduism” page. Follow up actions were discussed and are being implemented. We are planning to conduct similar sessions for parents at additional Virginia and Maryland locations

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May 29, 2014: AAPI celebration at DHS/TSA HQ in Alexandria, VA

SAMFSN team members Raj Rajendran and Chaplain Pratima Dharm teamed up to celebrate AAPI ( Asian American and Pacific Islanders ) cultural heritage month at the TSA HQ in Alexandria, VA. The keynote speaker for the event was Mr Stephen Yim from the White House AAPI initiative. Mr Yim gave a good speech on his early childhood experiences and the importance of the AAPI initiative. The SAMFSN team organized several dance performances show casing Indian culture and heritage. All the dance performances were given by Indian American kids from local dance schools in Virgina. We sincerely thank the dance teachers and the kids for their volunteer support for this AAPI event.

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May 28, 2014: Hindu Mandir Executives Conference (HMEC), Virginia

SAMFSN Board member Sant Gupta organized the HMEC 2014 conference at Durga Temple , VA on May 28 & 29. The conference was attended by temple priests from across the country. The main purpose of conference was to discuss the current and evolving future role of temple priests. It was also an opportunity for priests, temple management, community members to network, share thoughts and ideas to help serve the community better.

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March 28, 2014: Holi celebrations at WRNMMC, Bethesda , MD

The SAMFSN team organized the 2014 celebrated Holi at WRNMMC ( Walter Reed National Military Medical Center ) for military service members on March 28, 2014.

WRNMMC Hindu congregation leaders Piragash Swargaloganathan and Nitin Shinde took the lead and conducted the event. The chaplains office at WRNMMC sponsored and supported the event. Colonel Powers from the chaplains office was the chief guest and gave out certificates to all the performers.

Jan 24, 2014: International Night at William Farquar Middle School (WFMS), Silver Spring, MD

SAMFSN team members ( Chaplain Pratima Dharm) helped to plan and organize the International Night event at WFMS. This was the first time that such an event was celebrated in the history of WFMS. About 10 countries ( India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Eucador, Bolivia, Columbia, Egypt,Nigeria, El Salvador ) participated in the event. WFMS school authorities were thrilled with the success of the concept and the event and are now planning to make it into an annual event on a larger scale from next year. Each country show cased their primary religions, heritage, culture, popular food items at the event. There were traditional dances from several countries. It was a very educational event for parents, students and teachers. The event promoted understanding and healthy exchanges for students across different cultures.

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20140124 182632 Dr Shuba Maruvada with students from her class who gave a performance of traditional kuchipudi indian dance at the event.

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Jan 19, 2014: Renewing The Dream, An Interfaith, Multicultural Celebration of Dr. King’s Birthday

SAMFSN team members organized/participated in the MLK celebrations at Cedar Lane Unitarian church, Bethesda, MD. The program was an inter faith event organized by the Cedar Lane church with participation from religious leaders from multiple faiths. The event celebrated the lives of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. The program was well attended by a diverse, multicultural audience. The audience was more than 250. The full program details, pictures and details of the event are below

Program Flyer : MLK Interfaith Service – Jan 19

Abhi-Janamanchi Rev Abhi Janamanchi seen in picture is the Senior Minister of Cedar Lane Unitarian Church and was the lead organizer of the MLK celebration event.

MLK-Audience Audience at the MLK event at Cedar Lane Unitarian church

20140119 17121120140119 171935 SAMFSN team membes who attended and participated in the event.

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20140119 171820 Interfaith Religious leaders who attended the event.

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Dec 14, 2013: Wreaths Across America:

SAMFSN team members Mr Hitul Thaker and Dr Ram Bhat participated in the “Wreaths Across America” event at the Arlington cemetery, D.C. This event is organized by Columbia Falls-based nonprofit Wreaths Across America which ships about 500,000 wreaths to be placed on veterans graves all across America. The President of Worcester Wreath Company, based in Harrington, Maine, started this annual event in 1992 to honor our nation’s fallen heroes. We request and encourage our south-asian community ( adult and youth) members to participate in this annual event. Details and pictures of this event are below.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/14/wreaths-arlington-national-cemetery/4025217/

http://dc.about.com/od/christmasevents/a/WreathsAcrossAm.htm

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Dr Ram Bhat participated in the “Wreaths Across America” program

Nov 15, 2013: Diwali at Bethesda Naval Hospital: The SAMFSN team worked with the Hindu congregation at the Walter Reed Naval Hospital at Bethesda to celebrate Diwali. The celebration was a big success. The team received several compliments for the organization and quality of the program. Please refer to the press article and pictures for details and coverage of the event.

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News articles on Diwali celebrations at Bethesda

http://www.dcmilitary.com/article/20131212/NEWS11/131219982/wrnmmc-celebrates-diwali-festival-of-lights

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Bethesda Diwali: Raj Rajendran, Hitul Thaker, Shilpa Thaker, Piragash Swargalogathan, Chaplain Pratima Dharm, Tulsi Pandey, Nitin Shinde, Sunil Sudigula.

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Piragash Swargaloganathna conducting the Bethesda Diwali celebration

Nov 9, 10 , 17 2013: Veterans Day: SAMFSN honored veterans at multiple venues and locations in the National Capital Region. Veterans day was observed at Chinmaya Mission local chapters and local DC area temples. The veterans day efforts were led by Chaplain Dharm, Dr Ram Bhat, Mr Hitul Thaker and several active duty volunteers. Veterans and active duty soldiers were invited to the temples and honored for their service. About 17 D.C area temples participated in this event. Mr Sant Gupta helped coordinate the effort in the D.C area temples. Dr Ram Bhat coordinated the logistics across the various D.C area temples. Children at Chinmaya mission centers were educated on the purpose of Veterans day. We are very thankful to Chinmaya mission and the DC area temples for helping us organize these events. The invited active duty soldiers answered many questions that the children asked them about serving in the U.S Army. A few of the event pictures are below.

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Bethesda core team volunteers at a temple ceremony for Veterans Day 2013

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Veterans Day 2013 – Lt Col Swaminathan Iyer, Hitul Thaker , Shilpa Thaker at Rajdhani Mandir

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Veterans Day 2013 – Bethesda Volunteers Sunil Sudigula, Piragash Swargaloganathan, Tulsi Pandey

Veterans-Day-CMRC2 Swami Dheerananda and Chaplain Pratima Dharm conducting veterans day prayers at CMWRC, Silver Spring, MDVets-Day-CMRC4

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Lt Col Amar Kosaraju, Piragash Swargaloganathan conducting veterans day prayers at CMWRC, Virginia chapter with Balavihar students

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Guda (Former Military), Capt Rajpurohit, Piragash, Swami Dheeranandji, Mr. Golla the director of Chinmaya Somanath during the veterans day prayers at CMWRC, Virginia chapter

Oct 24, 2013: Diwali 2013 at Pentagon: The SAMFSN team celebrated Diwali at the Pentagon for the second consecutive year in the history of the Pentagon. Mr Hitul Thaker , Shilpa Thaker and Dr Ram Bhat led the effort to conduct the event successfully. Please review the news articles below for pictures and video of the celebration.

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Press articles on the pentagon 2013 Diwali event

http://www.army.mil/article/114500/Diwali_celebration_shines_light_on_oneness_and_unity/

Video coverage of the pentagon 2013 Diwali event http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtBsv4nBwBs

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Oct 23, 2013 – Diwali celebrations at Trinidad, Tobago:

US Army Captain Pratima Dharm was invited by Swami Prakashananda, Head of Chinmaya Mission Trinidad & Tobago to participate in the 2013 Diwali celebrations

News articles and pictures of the celebrations are provided below.

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US Army Captain Pratima Dharm seen here with .Swami Prakashananda of Chinmaya Mission, Trinidad & Tobago.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,185611.html

http://www.hinduismtoday.com/blogs-news/hindu-press-international/nine-day-diwali-event-in-trinidad—tobago/13225.html

Oct 20 – Local Community Efforts on World Peace: SAMFSN team members participated in an inter faith event on World Peace. Many faiths expressed their struggle to achieve world peace and outlined efforts they were taking at the local community level to reach out and create inter faith understanding and dialogue. The program was at Bait-ur-Rehman Mosque, Silver Spring, MD. Mr Sant Gupta and Mr Raj Rajendran participated in the event. Mr Gupta was an invited panel speaker who spoke on behalf of Hinduism. The program was organized by the Ahmadiya muslim community and the moderator was Mr Daniel Koroma, Community outreach manager from Montgomery county. Panel speakers were from from the Unitarian Church, Latter Day Saints, Mormon community, Ahmadiya muslim community, Hinduism, Buddhism and Interfaith groups.

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Sept 29, 2013 - Navy Yard Memorial Service: SAMFSN team helped to organize and conduct an interfaith service at the SSVT auditorium in honor of the fallen heroes from the NAVY yard shooting. Interfaith clergy leaders from several faiths ( Hinduism, Islam, Latter Day Saints, Bahai, Buddhist, Zoroastrianism, ISKON, Sikhism ) participated in the service. Family friends of Late Mr Vishnu Pandit ( one of the shooting victims ) also attended the service. Chaplain Pratima Dharm, Lt Col Ravi Chaudhary were invited speakers for the service. Team members Chaplain Pratima Dharm , Mythili Bachu, Sant Gupta, Dr Rahul Jindal , Raj Rajendran, Prof B.N. Hebbar helped to organize and conduct the service. The team worked closely with several organizations to plan and conduct this event within a very short lead time. Program details for Inter-faith event: Flyer Inter-faith Service 29Sept2013