Forum of Hindu Organizations, Temples and Associations holds reunion after 2-year hiatus

The Forum of Hindu Organizations, Temples and Associations (HOTA) organized a meeting of over 20 leaders and representatives of organizations on Sunday 25e September 2022 after being postponed due to Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021. An invitation only meeting, it was held at the Shree Swaminarayan Temple Complex (ISSO) in Papatoetoe, Auckland and was organized by the Hindu Council of New Zealand.

HOTA Forum brings together leaders, executives, and volunteers from multiple Dharma-based organizations to have an in-depth discussion of the successes, challenges, and big issues facing the community. It provides a unique opportunity to have open and frank deliberations about the current and future state of the community.

The HOTA Forum was launched at the 3rd Hindu National Conference of New Zealand held in May 2010. The Forum acts as a platform to bring together several Hindu organisations, temples and associations across New Zealand. Since its inception, a Hindu organization, temple or association voluntarily takes the initiative to host the HOTA forum for one year. The host clings to the Ekta Shankh (a symbol of unity) as the baton symbolizing their advancement of programs for the year. Over 55 organizations have been active members of HOTA since its inception and interest in working together has grown.

The HOTA Forum organizes two main events per year.

  1. Raksha Bandhan Festival: The Raksha Bandhan festival celebrates the infallible bond of universal brotherhood and is an occasion to venerate femininity. Hindus and other Dharma-based communities have realized from time immemorial that the true strength of social structures lies in the connections and bonds between its members which affirm true brotherhood among themselves. They also recognized the undeniable role that women play in maintaining and strengthening the universal bond of brotherhood.
  1. HOTA-Forum: This is an annual meeting of all Member Organizations who come together to discuss, deliberate and chart a way forward from the issues and opportunities that exist for the Hindu community in New Zealand. The event that took place on Sunday 25eSeptember.

This year, the focus was on youth leadership as well as the usual discussions that take place during the Forum.

“The focus on youth empowers our next generation to actively participate in shaping Aotearoa’s inclusive future. We need the next generation to start visualizing and working towards building a pluralistic society in New Zealand,” said Nitika Sharma, Chief Secretary of the Hindu Council of New Zealand.

The day featured several discussions which were grouped into high-level themes by the host with action plans in place to implement and complete the discussions. At a high level, social cohesion, belonging, inclusion, Hindu phobia, misinformation, support for government agencies, engagement with politicians and government agencies emerged as key themes. The successes of the Hindu community as contributing citizens of New Zealand also formed a large part of the discussions. A united Hindu footprint helps highlight the incredible work that multiple organizations are doing.

The day ended with politicians, government agencies and public officials present to hear about the day’s discussions, deliberations and outcomes. Religious Diversity Center President Jocelyn Armstrong attended the public session commenting: “Everyone I spoke to said it was a good day of discussions and diving into issues important to the community. . A full report will be compiled and distributed.

Membership of the HOTA Forum is open to all Hindu organisations, temples and associations in New Zealand. Contact Nitika Sharma at [email protected] for more details. The HOTA forum is coordinated by the Hindu Council of New Zealand Incorporated.