Iowa State Legislature Opens with Hindu Prayer

March 25, 2006

Source: The Des Moines Register

On March 25, 2006 The Des Moines Register reported, "Although it didn't receive a lot of fanfare, something historic happened this month at the capitol. For the first time, a Hindu priest offered the opening prayer at the legislative session in the Iowa House and Senate. Pandit Krishna Pandey prayed in Sanskrit and English for brotherhood and peace in the universe. That Pandey was invited and welcomed is a tribute to lawmakers' recognition of Iowa's growing religious diversity. That it didn't cause a stir is an important signal that minority religions are respected and accepted in this predominantly Christian state. The invitation extended to Pandey and Suren Gupta, chairman of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center, came from Sen. Herman Quirmbach and Rep. Lisa Heddens, Ames Democrats. Quirmbach, Heddens and Rep. Swati Dandekar, a Democrat from Marion who is of Indian descent and Hindu, attended the June 2005 dedication of the Hindu temple outside Madrid... The temple membership hovers around 500, with at least that many celebrating the Hindu Festival of Colors on March 18. Gupta estimates 1,200 Hindus live in the area and about 4,000 reside elsewhere in the state."