A digital billboard placed on a main highway in Chicago flashes a message about the World Hindu Congress (WHC) every 40 seconds and has been seen, at last count, by 1.5 million drivers, according to a press release from the organizers.
The windy city will play host to the WHC and welcome icons, thought influencers, prominent leaders and members of the Hindu community from September 7th – 9th. They will gather to connect, discuss, energize and push awareness about critical issues facing Hindus worldwide and figure ways on how the community can be globally significant and impactful, said the press release sent to Desi Talk by Manu Shah of the WHC PR/Media Committee. The event is being hosted at Hotel Westin in Lombard, Illinois.
Registration has been closed two months prior to the event due to the tremendous response, Amitabh Mittal, the registration coordinator said in the press release. A few spots for co-sponsors are all that’s left and some spots have been reserved, on a case by case basis, for delegates from countries.
More than 2,000 Hindus from across the globe and 250 thought leaders are expected to fly in to attend the gathering, organizers estimate. They include heads of countries with a sizable Hindu population, top tier corporate heads from both India and the U.S., Hindu leaders and media personalities. Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh Chief Mohan Bhagwat is one of the key speakers. Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Chinmaya Mission Head, Swami Swaroopananda, Swami Brahmavihari Das , Head of International Relations from BAPS, Swami Purnatmananda from Bharat Sevashram Sangh and Pranav Pandya from Gayatri Parivar will also be present at the event that has been dubbed as “the biggest Hindu gathering of leaders to date,” the press release said.
The conference is being organized by the World Hindu Foundation headed by Swami Vigyananand, an alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. It will commemorate 125 years of Swami Vivekananda’s historic Chicago address on September 11, 1893. This is the second such conference, the first was held in New Delhi in 2014.
The theme of WHC 2018 is “Sumantrite Suvikrante” — think collectively, achieve valiantly. With more than 3.23 million Hindus in the U.S. and a little over one billion worldwide, making Hindus count globally is a key issue, organizers say.
In the press release, senior leaders of the organization elaborated on the significance of the conference. According to WHC founder Swami Vigyananand, wealth creation, quality education, a robust Hindu presence in mass media, Hindu leadership, unique strengths of Hindu women and Hindu organizations must be encouraged to “graduate to collective success.” This, he said, “is the only way to increase our sphere of influence and have a positive societal impact.”
Convener Dr. Abhaya Asthana highlighted the importance of “boosting the profile of Hindus” on the world stage. Hindus, he is quoted emphasizing, “need to come together collectively and establish their presence, and only then can they wield their clout to make a positive difference.”
The goal of WHC, Chair S.P. Kothari said, is to “make the world understand the Hindu way and view of life not just at the spiritual and social level but also at the economic and educational level.” The WHC Vice Chair Raju Reddy said that “Hindus are viewed as great doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs, as positive role models but they need to become change makers. This requires them to be organized.”