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Ancient Hindu mantra opens Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Multi-faith Service
Various religions came together in community-wide 'Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Multi-faith Service' at University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) to honor civil rights icon Cesar Estrada Chavez on his birthday March 31.

Organized by “Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Committee” in collaboration with Universal Society of Hinduism and UNR Interfaith Students Club, this Service included Roman Catholic, Protestant Christian, Mormon, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish prayers.

Zed, religious statesman and Chairperson of “Nevada Cesar Chavez Day Committee”, speaking on the occasion, urged Nevada should declare March 31 as state holiday like some other states and one major street in all major towns of Nevada and UNR and University of Nevada-Las Vegas campuses should be renamed as Avenida Cesar Chavez.One of the purposes of this Service was to reflect on Chavez’s non-violent movement for social change and efforts at bringing equality-dignity-justice for all Americans, Zed states.

Nevada Governor Brian E. Sandoval issued a proclamation proclaiming March 31, 2013 as a day in honor of Chavez. It mentioned Chavez’s securing historic labor and civil rights concessions for exploited and impoverished farm workers, his march from Delano to Sacramento in California, grape boycott, his belief in social justice through non-violence, three historic fasts, etc.

Both Washoe County Commission and City of Reno also proclaimed March 31, 2013 as Cesar Chavez Day, mentioning “…Cesar Chavez adhered to the principles of non-violence practiced by M.K. Gandhi...”

Opening with recitation of Gayatri Mantra, considered most sacred mantra of Hinduism, by Zed; faith leaders who spoke at the Service included Pastor of Reno First Congregational Church Reverend Rich Smith, Deacon at Saint Therese Church of the Little Flower Rigoberto Ruano Mireles, Northern Nevada Muslim Community President Dr. Sherif A. Elfass, Assistant Priest of Reno Buddhist Center Matthew Fisher and Jewish scholar Dr. John N. Louie.

Service, hosted by UNR Interfaith Club, also included Danza Azteca Aztlan performance directed by Anastacio Duran, Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite bhajan “Vaishnav jan to…” by Thakur Chakrapani Singh with Pete Fairley and Tanya Singh, Latter-day Saints Students Choir headed by Jessica Patchin, Spanish song by Miss Washoe County Chelsea Ann Mihaylo and Spanish poem by Professor Jeannette M. Nagel.

Others who addressed the gathering included UNR Vice Provost Dr. Fred B. Holman; Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez; Nevada Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce; Cesar Chavez’s nephew Ramon A. Chavez; and Zona Allgire-Avila, who was arrested in Cesar Chavez protest movement. Committee treasurer Victoria A. Sanderson read various proclamations and messages of US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Governor, Nevada Secretary of State, Nevada Attorney General, Nevada senators and assembly-members, Washoe County and City of Reno. Committee secretary Daniel R. Sanchez presented a multi-media display about Chavez.

Committee also gave community service awards to Mihaylo and Damonte Ranch High School student Priscilla Vidales on the occasion.

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