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Saturday, December 10, 2016

XVIII Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night

11/20/16
XVIII Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night
Sunday, November 20, 2016 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Program outline
MC: Rabia Ali Baig
  1. Seating & Socializing
  2. Pledge of Allegiance – Dr. Har Swarup Singh
  3. National Anthem
  4. Diya lighting – Swati Choksi
  5. Greetings & Welcome – Mike
  6. Symbolic Turkey Carving –
  7. Expressions of Gratitude –Mike
  8. Experiencing other Religions – Volunteer
  9. Dinner (Vegetarian food available) – Every one
  10. Acknowledging Interfaith & Interracial couples
  11. Awards & Recognitions (list on page 5)
  12. Center for Pluralism – Mike
  13. Peace Pledge – Rabbi Chuck Fienberg
  14. Post event interviews
Pledge of Allegiance
Dr. Har Swarup Singh to lead the pledge
National Anthem
Rabia Ali Baig – to sing the National Anthem
Diya lighting
Although it is a Hindu tradition, this has universal appeal in it. Lighting the Diya or candle signifies end of darkness. Martin Luther King had said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  So help us cheer after the lighting.

Mike and Swati Choksi to start the program with symbolic lighting of the candle.   
Greetings & Welcome
Since I am new to the DMV area, I have not had the chance to reach out to every American.
In the last twenty years, in our (Center for Pluralism) events, we take pride on inviting Americans from different traditions such as Atheism, Baha’i, Buddhism, Christendom, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native Americans, Paganism, Scientology, Sikhism, Wiccan and Zoroastrianism and every one in between including the LGBTQ community.
Let’s assume we have every representation of America here.
When you go to a neighborhood which is all white, Black or Brown, you may feel apprehensive walking down the street…. Sometimes you may even want to run, but imagine or you may have experienced having a sense of safety, if someone say Hi to you.
When God created humans, he had projected what each year would be like, and he had the full report on 2016. So he called his advisory angels, and showed them a film called 2016 – it is what you see here, people worried, concerned, feeling insecure…  not knowing what will happen to the Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Hispanic, women and…..others.
Then God asks them to find solutions. He said, I don’t want any one of my creation to be afraid of the each other…    how do we break the ice? How do we free each other from tensions?
They came up with a formula
  1. Acknowledging the strangers – remember that Hi how it brought relief?
  2. Tell them you wish them peace and blessings
  3. Let them know you could be friends
Then God put them in all his religions and no-religions, after all we are all his creation.
Dharmic Greetings
Abrahimic Greetings
– American Indians – Aho Piva
–  Atheist secular – Hi!
–  Bahai
–  Buddhist
–  Christian
–  Hindu
–  Jain
–  Jewish
–  Muslim
–  Sikh
–  Wicca
–  Zoroastrian
Center for Pluralism is all about inclusion – God created each one of us, so we are one nation, one people – Hindu scriptures talk about Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum and Abrahamic scriptures talk about we are one big family originated from Adam and Eve.
Symbolic Turkey Carving
Cynthia Roseberry

Expressions of Gratitude
The gratitude narration – Appaiah story by Mike
Experiencing other Religions- Voluntary
Rabia and Mike will invite 24 individuals to the open space for experiencing other religions or traditions such as Atheism, Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Jewish, Scientology, Sikh, Zoroastrian.
Mike to tell Dallas Story-
Experiencing other religions: 24 individuals will be called on the floor to be in the team of 2, that is 10 teams.  Each team will be given a random verse from different faith, and we ask them to read and explain to the public. It was one of the most successful events we have had in the last several years. People love this and understand that all religions are beautiful in bringing peace and tranquility to its followers.
  1. ATHEISM
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. (-Humanist Manifesto)
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. (-Humanist Manifesto)
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” – John Lennon
  1. BAHAI

  1. BUDDHISM“Radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.” – The Buddha

  1. CHRISTIANITY”Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?”  Malachi 2:10

  1. HINDUISMThe one who loves all intensely begins perceiving in all living beings a part of himself.
    He becomes a lover of all, a part and parcel of the Universal Joy. He flows with the stream of happiness, and is enriched by each soul.
    (Yajur Veda)

  1. ISLAM“O, Mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another.  Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who has piety.” (49:13)

  1. JAINThe most sacred mantras
Namo Arihantanam
Namo Siddhanam
Namo Ayiryananm
Namo Uvajjaysnam
Namo  Savva Sahuman
I bow to five most revered entities..  arihantas,siddhas,acharyas
upadhyayas,sadhus

“SAMYAK DARSHAN GYAN CHARITRA NI ..MOKSHA MARGAH”.

Summary of ENTIRE  jain way….RIGHT faith,knowledge and conduct are way to Salvation.  “Tatvarth Sutra

  1. JEWISH
Love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai.” (Leviticus 19:17–18)  “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt:    I Adonai am your God.” (Leviticus 19:33–34)

  1. SCIENTOLOGY”The hardest task one can have is to continue to love his fellows despite all reasons he should not. And the true sign of sanity and greatness is to so continue….” L. Ron Hubbard


  1. SIKHISMNanak Says: May I Be Blessed With Vision To Realize Your Blessings And Your Order. And Thus Be a Thankful Offering to You. That Your NAME, O Timeless Infinite Being, May Rise For Ever, And In Thy Will, May There Be Well-Being Of All Humankind.

  1. ZOROASTRIANS

  1. NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITION

Dinner (Vegetarian food available)  
30 Minutes into the dinner… after all of them have seated and had some meal….
Acknowledging Interfaith & Interracial couples
Mike will acknowledge the couples
Despite their religious, racial or cultural differences, they are setting the new standards of civility by showing the world how to live in harmony. We have to cherish and honor the couples who embrace genuine humanity by accepting each other’s uniquenesses.
When people are showing extreme intolerance towards each other, the interfaith and interracial couples are showing the way to live in harmony and are contributing to the idea of one nation. They are indeed exemplary patriotic Americans.
You are who you are and I am who I am, and let’s acknowledge that and live in peace. As long as we don’t mess with each other’s space, sustenance and nurturance, and respect each other’s uniqueness, we all will do well.  If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
As a society, the least we can do is acknowledge them for their contributions towards the idea of one nation that is America.
God bless them!
Awards & Recognitions (list on page 5)
Mike – It is our duty to “honor and cherish individuals “who have
dedicated their lives to building bridges among Americans. Their pioneering spirit in facilitating communities to know and to
respect each other is appreciated by fellow Americans.
Rabia – On this day, we appreciate and celebrate their contributions
towards building a cohesive America, where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other.
This year we are appreciating five individuals who have made a difference in our communities. They have spread their wings beyond their own nest and have reached out to many others.  Over the years we have admired 50 such individuals who are listed on the website.

Robert J. Marro
Adams Center, for building relationships with the civic and faith based organizations in the DMV area.
Presented by:  John Foust
Rabia to read the Bio

Mike’s Comment
: Bob has become a spokesperson for the Muslim community and has built great relations with the county and state officials along with the interfaith community. I laud his open mindedness.
Picture:
Cristina Frey
New Americans Expo, for bringing diverse ethnic communities of DMV area together.
Presented by: David Frey
Rabia to read the Bio
Mike’s Comment: I watched Cristina in the expo she held in October, she virtually had invited every race, faith and tradition to be part of the event, that is the kind of thing we need to be doing, and I encourage her to keep it up.
Charles Stevens
Geotrees for being an integral part of diverse communities in the DMV area
Presented by: Dr. Aquilur Rahman
Rabia to read the Bio
 
Mike’s Comment: There is not a week gone without receiving at least two or three pieces of information about certain happenings somewhere with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or others.  Why should one do that?  It’s nothing but passion to serve fellow beings.
Andrea Barron
for promoting Jewish-Muslim understanding in the Washington, DC area
Presented by: Judith Lelchook
Rabia to read the Bio

Mike’s Comment
: 
Andrea’s enthusiasm is infectious; she really believes in the Jewish responsibility of fixing the world and has gone out of the way to build bridges.  I am sure each one of you knows that, when you do things like that, there will be always criticism from a few from her tribe, and suspect from the other. She bulldozes all that and does what needs to be done – building cohesive societies.

Rev. Sue Taylor,
Church of Scientology, National Affairs Office for reaching out and standing with persecuted communities around the world.
Presented by: Beth Akiyama
Rabia to read the Bio
 
Mike’s Comment: People are so wrapped up in defending their own, that they cannot see beyond, and I have been watching Rev. Sue Taylor with admiration for defending the rights of others, regardless of who they are. If you don’t stand up for others, why should anyone stand up for you?
Center for PluralismWhat is the Center for Pluralism?
Peace Pledge – Rabbi Chuck FienbergPlease rise and join the pledge with Rabbi Chuck Fienbert
 
Dr. Mike Ghouse is Founder and President of Center for Pluralism.    He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. All about the center at www.CenterforPluralism.com and about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net

Sunday, May 1, 2016

XVIII Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night

 You are invited to the 18th Annual
Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night
Sunday, November 20, 2016

May 1, 2016, Washington, DC -- The purpose of celebrating this event is to thank the creator for helping us learn;

  • to give thanks for the blessed life we all enjoy in these United States of America; 
  • celebrate the diversity of creation,
  • to enjoy the cultural heritage of each ethnic group that makes America;
  • to appreciate and recognize outstanding volunteers in each community;
  • to gather together as Immigrant Americans with born Americans;
  • to bring the new immigrants into our fold and,
  • to accept, respect and appreciate each other’s uniqueness.

In the last 17 years, the spiritual groups including the Native Americans, Apache, Atheists, Baha'i, Buddhist, Cherokee, Choctaw, Christian, Hindu, Hopi, Jain, Jewish, Maya, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Tao, Wicca, Oloriya, Zoroastrian and communities from different races and ethnicities have come together to celebrate this event.

This year we intend to reach out to every possible tradition that we can trace and together we can celebrate this American Holiday of gratitude. 

A presentation of the Center for Pluralism & The World Muslim Congress.
We are looking to present five cultural dances presented as a part of the evening;

1. Native American
2. Latin American
3. African American
4. Greek American
5. Indian - American

Over the last several events we have done most of the dances and it is time for the above. New ideas are always welcome.

The event is an expression of the Center for Pluralism, aka Foundation for Pluralism, Center for Studies in Religious pluralism and Secular Societies.

The uniqueness of the program is highlighted with the Turkey Carving ceremony, followed by Dinner. In previous years several dignitaries have performed the symbolic Turkey Carving. This year another dignitary will be honoring us with his/her presence.

Traditionally the evening has been dedicated to the Native Americans who have preserved the mother earth for all of us, it is their belief in nature and their caring for the land that we have come to cherish.

A few years ago, we honored Martin Luther King Jr., who awakened the conscience of this nation and prompted changes in the Civil Laws that have paved the way for most immigrants to make America their new home. All the South Asians and I are here today because of Reverend Martin Luther King’s reformation of our collective conscience.

The Jewish community has been a catalyst in creating a solid foundation for religious freedom in America. The Jewish community was honored for working to preserve the religious freedom in this country, they were hugely instrumental in making America for what it is today; God’s land, where all God’s creation can worship the creator every which way they want.

Mike Ghouse expresses his gratitude, " We salute the Native Americans for nurturing survival and we salute Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jewish Community for their outstanding contributions in making us all proud of the United States of America. We admire the Muslim and Sikh communities for withstanding all the difficulties and humiliation that was unleashed on them after 911, and their courage to continue to remain steadfast in their loyalty and patriotism in contributing towards the growth of this great nation. A senior representative from each community will bless the ceremony.

The multi-cultural extravaganza will follow with an hour full of mystical and folk dances from all the 7 continents. A live band will entertain us all.

As a society it is our duty to recognize and appreciate the people who have made a difference in the communities we live in, and it is our pleasure to honor and encourage these individuals and organizations. 

Sponsorships are invited to defray the cost of the event

For more information contact Mike Ghouse at (214) 325-1916 or thanksgivingcelebrations@gmail.com

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse, President
(214) 325-1916 | Washington, DC
Center for Pluralism aka America Together Foundation
Pluralism studies in religion, politics, society and culture

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslampoliticsterrorismhuman rightsIndiaIsrael-Palestine,  motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. All  his writings are at: www.TheGhousediary.com 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dallas Thanksgiving Celebrations and Awards Night, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson graces the occassion

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas presided over the proceedings of the 16th annual thanksgiving celebrations and awards night on Saturday, November 22, 2014. It is a bridge building event between communities.
22 Media outlets have published the event, and is being published at more places, All the links are at appended below. Pictures in slide show,  

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157649172175749/Show

We ought to be thankful to Native Americans, who did not put the electric fence around Americas to keep the illegal aliens like Columbus and other Europeans from entering America without a visa.  Today, we are a nation of immigrants, other than the natives; almost all of us are immigrants from one to several generations.
The event was organized by America Together Foundation, World Muslim Congress. And the Foundation for Pluralism, all committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in tension, discomfort, apprehension or fear of the other.

The purpose of celebrating this event was to thank God for guiding us to learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us.  And more importantly it is to familiarize the new immigrants with the festivities.  You’ll be surprised to find that many of them have not even seen the thanksgiving meal and its fixings. It was not a part of their study for citizenship and apparently no one has done this as a public event. 
“Congresswoman Johnson represents the aspiration of fellow Americans; justice and liberty for every American in his or her pursuit of happiness, and she fights for that relentlessly – Is that the kind of congressperson we want?, well here she is.” Mike Ghouse welcomed her amidst a thunderous applause. 

To paraphrase Congresswoman Johnson, “we have made sacrifices to respect the human rights, civil liberties and freedom for our new generations and now they have those rights.   On the map of the world, ours is still the best country.  The immigrant community has always played an important role in the development of US." 
It was a delight to watch the Congresswoman carve the symbolic turkey, and sharing what thanksgiving means to her; to count your blessings.  For many a immigrants it is an introduction to the American way of life and who else can do a better job than the Congresswoman? Through her efforts and against all impediments, she has realized her American dream. 

Chef Ali of Spicy Cuisine in Irving prepared delicious vegetarian and non-veg meals with a fixing of thanksgiving delicacies. 

Congresswoman Johnson presented the awards to four community leaders and delivered a beautiful keynote address on gratitude,while highlighting the need for events like this to bring people together regardless of their political, religious, racial or and social affiliation to build a safe, secure and a cohesive America.


 
Mike Ghouse, president of the foundation shared the real life stories that exemplify thanksgiving; stories about Appaiah and the hospitality in Saudi Arabia. How each one of us can restore the spiritual balance within and live a productive, meaningful and a purposeful life. The Appaiah story was published in 
Huffington Post Link , and the Saudi story, all pictures, and notes will be atwww.ThanksgivingCelebrations.org


The attendees were represented by people of different faiths, races, political orientations and other uniqueness’s. They cheered on when Mike Ghouse, chair of the event asked. Whether you are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Gay, Lesbian, Black, White, Native, Immigrant, Republican or Democrat, how many of you like to see your Congress person represent you with equal care and consideration? How many of you would like to see your congress person treat you with dignity and respect regardless of who you are?  Well here she is, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.”She delivered a beautiful key note speech about Gratitude. 



The following individuals were recognized for their outstanding contributions to building bridges in the communities we live – the title conferred upon all of them was “Pluralist” – meaning someone who respects the otherness of others.Every society has heroes – that is men and women who have gone beyond their normal self to serve the communities at large, and it is our responsibility as a society to acknowledge, cherish and honor them.

Here is a brief introduction of the recipients; detail profiles will be available at www.thanksgivingcelebrations.org
Raja Zahid A. Khanzada – a Journalist for his “Commitment to truth in Journalism.” He reports for the top news media conglomerates in Pakistan and has been a catalyst in a process of “forgiveness” of the robbers – where they surrendered their guns in return for acceptance in the society to live and breathe a normal life, and be the contributors of the nation. It is sort of what President Obama is doing with the undocumented aliens, a noble thing to do.  Raja is a relentless pursuer of education with three Master’s degrees and a degree in Homeopathic medical sciences and holds certification from American Alternative Medicine Practitioner Board in practice of alternative medicine.  He amazed everyone when he asked his mother to receive the plaque.


 

Amina Rab – a community activist and leader for “Building Bridges.” Amina is deeply committed to building bridges between the Muslim community and other communities.  It is not her job, but a passion to build bridges. She 
is the President of the Council on American Islamic Relations- DFW chapter and is the first woman to serve on the North Texas Islamic Council, and is a founding Board member of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation.   She is a Scientist in the healthcare industry for 20 years.  Amina is an entrepreneur with a home based business, a mother, a grandmother and a community Activist with a passion to promote peace and justice in the world.  
 
Anne Marie Weiss – a community leader for “Bringing the DFW communities together.”  Anne Marie single handedly started the DFW international in early nineties – she had the vision for making the Dallas/ Fort worth an international Metroplex, even before it was declared as such.  Today, DFW International has become an exemplary institution in America. There is nothing like it.  Where can you find connections to every cultural, religious, social and ethnic group in one place? None in America! She has put Dallas Fort Worth on the world Map. If you see the demographic statistics of nationalities and ethnicities in Dallas, it was her effort.  It is her selfless devotion to the belief that DFW should genuinely reflect its diversity.

Sante Santhanam Chary –is a national figure in “Connecting the World Leaders.” Sante is one of the very few Americans, perhaps the only immigrant who has met, shook hands and shared a message with 7 American Presidents and 8 Indian Presidents/Prime Ministers. 
Sante is continuously forging political and business ties between the United States and India and in September this year, he got the US Senate to pass a resolution creating “2014 U.S.-India Partnership Day” to honor Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US.

He has set a new world record by collecting over 55 contemporary signatures in solidarity on a USPS issued First Day Envelope with Mahatma Gandhi’s stamp on it. Sante is a healthcare entrepreneur with a focus on physician staffing services to small towns in the US.  He is a graduate of The Harvard Business School and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.



We are one nation.

Collectively, we are one nation under God represented by every race, religion, political orientation, nationality, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation and culture. Everything that God has created in the universe, we have it here in America. Indeed, we are God’s own country.

As Americans together, we see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. Our organization, America together Foundation is committed to preserve this pluralistic heritage of America.

Most of the problems we have in our nation can be traced to one thing – not knowing and being judgmental about others. Whether it is Ferguson, Homophobia, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Misogyny or whatever evils creep on us, they gain ground because we don’t know each other.

How do we come out of these and create a cohesive nation where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other? At America Together foundation we have plans to bring about this change. 

A full report with speeches and pictures will be published in a week.

Mike Ghouse, President of America Together Foundation
Mike Ghouse 
(214) 325-1916 text/talk

POST EVENT INFORMATION


16th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night


Pictures

The event has appeared in many papers, and will place them all in the upcoming report, thanks to Raja and Dallas Morning News, who have published before and after the event.
More Papers will be publishing it.
  1. http://thanksgivingcelebrations.blogspot.com/2014/11/dallas-thanksgiving-celebrations-and.html
  2. www.foundationforpluralism.com
  3. www.worldMuslimCongress.com
  4. The News International - http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-166848-Immigrants-played-key-role-in-US-development:-Congresswoman-Eddie-Bernice-
  5. Geo News - http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-166848-Immigrants-played-key-role-in-US-development:-Congresswoman-Eddie-Bernice-
  6. Dallas Morning News http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/deborah-fleck/20141126-interfaith-thanksgiving-celebrates-volunteers.ece
  7. Indian Panorama - http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/deborah-fleck/20141126-interfaith-thanksgiving-celebrates-volunteers.ece 
  8. Daily Jung (urdu) http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-166848-Immigrants-played-key-role-in-US-development:-Congresswoman-Eddie-Bernice-
  9. Jang http://beta.jang.com.pk/JangDetail.aspx?ID=167038
  10. JANG Rawalpindi - http://beta.jang.com.pk/JangDetail.aspx?ID=167038
  11. Jang Multan - http://beta.jang.com.pk/JangDetail.aspx?ID=167038
  12. Other Publications  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4836045795024.1073742011.1713098878&type=1&l=f8574f87d5
  13. http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-166848-Immigrants-played-key-role-in-US-development:-Congresswoman-Eddie-Bernice-
  14. http://www.geo.tv/article-166848-Immigrants-played-key-role-in-US-development-Congresswoman-Eddie-Bernice-
  15. http://irvingblog.dallasnews.com/2014/11/irving-morning-roundup-nov-21-2014.html/
  16. http://www.geo.tv/article-166383-Congresswoman-Edie-Bernice-to-attend-Dallas-Annual-Thanksgiving-celebrations-
  17. http://beta.jang.com.pk/JangDetail.aspx?ID=166339
  18. http://theindianpanorama.com/vol2-21.pdf
  19. http://jang.com.pk/jang/nov2014-daily/20-11-2014/u33994.htm
  20. http://www.geo.tv/article-166383-Congresswoman-Edie-Bernice-to-attend-Dallas-Annual-Thanksgiving-celebrations-
  21. http://www.texasguardian.com/index.php/sid/227849285
  22. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/northwest-dallas-county/headlines/20141121-interfaith-dinner-to-benefit-nonprofit-group-in-irving.ece

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major newspapers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at 
www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.