6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Led by Rev. Kent Matthies, Chaplin Pratima Dharm and Andrea Durham
6pm Diwali vegetarian feast
7pm Diwali program
Bharatanatyam Dance Performance by Usiloquy Dance Designs
Sitar Performance by Thomas Flanagan & Raj Malik
Diwali Diya lighting and Rangoli making
This celebration is FREE and open to the public
This year speaker will be Reverend Pratima Dharm (Retired, US Army Chaplain.)
Originally from northern India, Reverend Pratima Dharm was commissioned as a Captain in the United States Army Chaplain Corps (active duty) in September 2006. She was offered Preliminary Fellowship as a Unitarian Universalist (UU) Minister in September, 2016. In the past, she has been ordained as a Pentecostal Minister in 2005 and a Hindu Chaplain in 2011. She led 10 Humanitarian Aid Missions for the Kurdish people including the Yezidis in the northern part of Iraq while deployed to Iraq from 2007-2008. Upon, her return from Iraq, while in training for Clinical Pastoral Education, she began to wrestle with the limited Calvinistic Christian theology that does not include ‘all’ in God’s grace.
In trying to resolve this theological conflict, she returned to her Hindu roots and became the first Hindu Chaplain in the Department of Defense in 2011. Her religious journey brought her family and her to Unitarian Universalism, especially after the death of her mother in 2013, when she found out that her maternal grandfather who fought the British alongside Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by the Hindu wing of Unitarian Universalism: The Brahmo Samaj. It is within UU, that she is able to integrate her pluralistic Hindu culture and her affinity for social justice and reform. She and her husband are members of Cedar Lane UU Church and their two daughters attend Religious Education Classes there.
Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Overseas Service Ribbon. She is also the first female Chaplain of Indian descent to have served in the United States Army, introducing President Obama at the White House Diwali in 2011 and receiving the Special Achievement India Abroad Award in New York City the same year. She addressed a crowd of nearly 10,000 people at the annual Diwali Nagar Celebrations in 2013 as their chief guest in Trinidad. She is married to Dharmendran Rajendran who works as a Program Manager in the United States Navy and they have two daughters aged 14 and 9. She is also a certified 200 RYT trained Yoga teacher and a trained level I Yoga Nidra instructor.
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