BRIGHAM CITY — Rajan Zed approached the Brigham City Council several weeks ago with an offer to open their virtual meetings with Hindu prayers.
Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism and a religious cleric who has spent his life leading various government bodies in Hindu prayers and protesting for rights to do so, has led the United States Senate and several federal and local bodies, but this is a first for Brigham City, though the city has begun every meeting with a prayer for several mayoral tenures now.
“I think everyone ought to be able to pray if that’s what they’d like to do so we just do that before every city council meeting,” said Tyler Vincent, Brigham City mayor. “(Zed) approached on this Hindu prayer when we visited with him; he wanted to come and do that and we were willing to allow that.”
The Brigham City and Orem virtual meeting began with Hindu prayer at their May 21 meeting, and the Box Elder County and Iron County Commissions along with the cities of South Ogden, West Haven, West Point, Ivins, Price, Mantua were led in their May 20 meetings.
South Ogden Mayor Russell Porter saw the prayers as a “nice change,” as the city does not normally begin with prayers, which Porter said is because the city tried to bring in religious members to lead prayers, but those who volunteered would often forget to show up.
The city usually begins with a moment of silence and Porter said the move goes well with the city’s push toward inclusion.
“I thought it was cool and something different,” he said.
Zed first delivered the mantras in Sanskrit, sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages, then read the English interpretations.
The mantras will read “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”; which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge councilmembers and county commissioners and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind,” according to a written statement from Zed.
Zed is based in Nevada and addition to opening the United States Senate and other federal bodies, he has opened meetings for Rajan Zed had opened Utah State Senate, Utah House of Representatives; county commission meetings of Juab, Salt Lake, Utah, Wasatch, Washington, Weber counties; city council meetings of Alpine, Bluffdale, Centerville, Charleston, Draper, Heber City, Herriman, Layton, Oakley, Payson, Perry, Provo, Salem, Sandy, St. George, South Jordan, Syracuse, Taylorsville, Vineyard, West Bountiful, West Valley City, Willard and Woods Cross.