Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference

I know I was supposed to update this blog yesterday, but I’m so ill. If anyone has been following my twitter to the right of this post, you would know that I was away to attend Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference.

This was my first chance to pitch for Hindu Chaplaincy to the Hindu Mandir (temple) leadership in all of North America. There were about 250+ people in attendance, while others tuned in to the live stream of the conference.

It was a great place for networking as well meeting some very cool and influential people. I had the opportunity to briefly meet with the Pujya Swamiji from Parmarth Niketan Ashram as well got to have great conversations with the Swamijis from Kauai Hindu Monastery.  Talking to them reiterated the fact as to how these Swamijis are adapting to the changing times of the world we live in. They are all eco-friendly, scientific as well as avid tech users.

When I took the stage to speak about my work as a volunteer Hindu Chaplain, I had the opportunity to explain how the mandirs can help educate and finance the position of a Hindu Chaplain in their respective local communities – in their hospitals, universities etc.

The response I received was really good. People did reach out to me to know more about chaplaincy. To me, this is a good start. The key would be to keep this momentum going and spread the word, raise finances from the Hindu community itself.

Another highlight was the meeting with the Spiritual Care Department of The Scarborough Hospital. It was an insight into how the department serves the multi-faith, multi-ethnic community of Scarborough. This could very well be a model that hospitals in the United States could follow.

I would have liked more time to interact with the youth, people my age but there was so much going on in parallel sessions that it was just difficult.

This past weekend was important for me personally as it allowed the Hindu temple leadership to see that I was doing chaplaincy work and am committed to making everyone see that Hindu Chaplaincy is important and there is a dire need for Hindu Chaplains.

The seeds have been sown.

Until next time,

Namaste

Miracles Happen!

These were the words that crossed my mind when I walked out from my very first Clinical Pastoral Education training class.

Cliched much? I know. But still a fact. Chaplaincy is a miracle in my life. Background story time. And this is one story I love telling over n’ over again.

Okay here’s what happened.

It was last summer – Summer of 2012. I was going through a really rough time personally and professionally. I had lost my job in May 2012 and I had been unable to find another one. I figured apart from applying for any possible positions, I started looking at volunteer positions within major hospitals in the area.

One of the first people to get back to me was the Director of Spiritual Support and offered to train me as a volunteer Executive Secretary. Finishing up the requirements for being eligible to work in a hospital, I showed up on my first day. After a couple of days of background work, I was asked whether I would be willing to visit patients on the floors as we were short of volunteers. I immediately took the chance even though I knew I had no previous experience of visiting patients in hospital rooms. That day was an eye-opener. More on that in a different post.

So after the day was over, my director approached me and asked me if I would be willing to take up a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and train to be a chaplain. She must have quickly read the confusion on my face because she quickly added, “Trust me, Shama. You have the heart of a chaplain.” I was honored to hear her say that. Silly me, my response to that was: I don’t mean to be rude, but what’s a chaplain? She explained to me in detail and emailed me the application forms. The only thing I could say at that point was to get back to her later.

I came home that evening and spoke to my dad in detail regarding what had happened. He said, “Apply. What better way to be a Hindu?” I did not think too much of that but went ahead and submitted the application. By the way, the application to CPE requires a few short essays regarding your personal life story and personal faith. That was a Friday.

My training started the following Monday. When I walked into the class, I felt like a child on the first day of kindergarten. What transpired in the room during that class has enlivened my days from that time on.

A whole year has passed since then. I am now at a stage in Hindu chaplaincy that we are driving an initiative in North America to educate the community, especially the Hindus, about the rising need for Hindu Chaplains as well as reserving a spot for Hindus in the inter-faith community.

This is just the beginning of the miracle that continues to unfold in my life.

I intend to post every Monday. If there are some events happening that I would want to share, I shall update the blog more than once a week.

Until next time,

Namaste.