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Cathy Cox Says Country ‘Blessed’ By Community’s Presence

December 2005
Cathy Cox Says Country ‘Blessed’ By Community’s Presence

A senior official of Georgia has praised the contribution of the Indian community to the country's social, economic and cultural fabric. Georgia's Secretary of State, Cathy Cox, who was the chief guest at the first Diwali Dinner organized by the United States Hindu Alliance (USHA), said, "The rich cultural mosaic in Georgia has been enhanced with your [Indian community's] beautiful culture, your rich family values and intellectual capital. Thank you for your friendship and support. You have enriched us and we are blessed by your presence in the U.S. and in Georgia."

Cox was accompanied by her husband, Mark Dehler, at the dinner held on Nov. 2 at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta. Also present were Shi Shailendra, a member of Georgia Regional Transportation Authority; Gokul Kunnath, national convener of USHA; C. K. Patel, director of Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA); Shyam Reddy, an attorney; and several members of the Indian community.

Cox and her husband were welcomed at the event by the temple's president, Dr. Aruna Prasad Kancherla, Dr. Sujatha Reddy, treasurer and Hymavathy Mikkilineni, secretary. The guests, who received a traditional Indian welcome with a garland, were escorted into the temple, where they were blessed by priests and given the sacred offering (Prasad).

The dinner was held in the auditorium, where Amitabh Sharma, former president of the Vedic Temple of Atlanta, invited Cox and Reddy to light the traditional lamps (diyas) as Sujya Dikshit recited the prayer to Lord Ganesha. This was followed by a minute's silence in the memory of the victims of the recent bombings in New Delhi and other natural disasters around the world.

Sujatha Reddy said, "The true spirit of Diwali is to light the lamp of hope and cheer in the hearts of the needy and downtrodden and to illuminate the dark recesses of our inner selves."

Kunnath said USHA will strive to empower Hindu Americans through education, advocacy and activism. He said the organization would soon release an agenda of its concerns and problems and deliver it to the state representatives.

Shailendra called on the Indian community to play a more prominent role in politics. He also lauded Cox, a candidate in the next election for Georgia's governor. He called Cox a "great friend" of the community.

Cox, in her speech, reassured the Hindu community. She said, "This country was founded on the basic principles of religious freedom and religious tolerance and a? separation between our state and our faith. Unfortunately, some people have selective memories and forget about these basic principles."

- Mahadev Desai

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