In a groundbreaking move, the Sutter County Board of Supervisors in California will begin their session with Hindu invocations, marking a significant departure from tradition that has lasted 174 years. Esteemed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will lead the invocation, drawing from ancient Sanskrit scriptures—a language revered in Hinduism as sacred and the precursor to many modern tongues.

President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, will recite verses from the Rig-Veda, the world’s oldest scripture still in use, along with passages from the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. Beginning and ending with the potent syllable “Om,” symbolizing the universe in Hindu philosophy, Zed’s prayers will echo through the chambers of the boardroom.

Among the verses he will recite is a poignant plea from the Brahadaranyakopanishad: “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”—interpreted as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” From the Bhagavad-Gita, he will exhort supervisors and attendees alike to prioritize the welfare of others.

Rajan Zed, recognized as a global Hindu and interfaith leader, boasts accolades such as the World Interfaith Leader Award and a seat on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project. His contributions to religious discourse include participation in “On Faith,” a renowned platform by The Washington Post, and the weekly “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication spanning over 13 years.

With Hinduism representing the world’s oldest and third-largest religion, counting approximately 1.2 billion followers globally and three million adherents in the USA alone, this invocation signals a broader recognition of religious diversity within the community. Sutter County, nestled along the banks of the Sacramento River, was established in 1850, but today marks a new chapter in its history as it embraces the rich tapestry of faiths that shape its society.