On May 7, 2020, the White House National Day of Prayer Service was held in the Rose Garden, and included a Hindu priest among the several religions representing the mosaic of America.
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump delivered remarks at the ceremony. Also present were Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, and Pastor Paula White, advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.
Pujari Harish Brahmbhatt, of the B.A.P.S. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey was recognized at the meeting and shared a Hindu prayer of peace from the Vedas, BAPS said in a press release.
“In these troubled times of COVID-19, social distancing and the lockdown, it’s not unusual for people to feel anxious or not at peace,” Brahmbhatt said, adding, “The Shanti Path or the peace prayer, is a prayer that does not seek worldly riches, success, fame, nor is it a prayer for any desire for heaven. It is a beautiful Hindu prayer for peace, shanti. It is a Vedic prayer derived from the Yajur Veda.”
Priest Brahmbhatt was joined by representatives of other faiths, including Pastor Brittany Akinsola, nurse, Samaritan’s Purse; Mario Salerno, landlord and auto shop owner; Sister Eneyda Martinez, Poor Sisters of St. Joseph; Bishop Dwight Green, Board of Bishops, Church of God in Christ (COGIC); Chaplain Ibraheem A. Raheem, U.S. Army Chaplain, Walter Reed; Sister Debbie Marriott Harrison, Washington, DC Public Affairs Advisory Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, executive director, Agudath Israel of America Mid-Atlantic Region; as well as members of the Spirit of Faith Christian Center Choir.