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Eye On Boise

Hindu prayer opens Senate; seven senators stay outside chamber

Rajan Zed delivers a Hindu prayer in the Idaho Senate on Tuesday morning, as the opening invocation (Betsy Russell)
Rajan Zed delivers a Hindu prayer in the Idaho Senate on Tuesday morning, as the opening invocation (Betsy Russell)

Seven senators remained outside the Senate chamber this morning as guest chaplain Rajan Zed delivered today’s opening invocation, a Hindu prayer, then took their seats immediately after it was done. The seven: Sens. Vick, Nonini, Nuxoll, Den Hartog; and Rice, Patrick and Siddoway (who all three later said they weren't boycotting the prayer and were just running late). Vick had previously announced his plans to walk out, saying he objected to the Hindu prayer being delivered. Nonini said, "I was just late getting up there - I didn't want to walk in in the middle of it." But, he said, "I was disappointed that we didn't also have a Christian prayer."

Clad in a flowing orange robe, Zed said afterward, “We don’t mind. Hinduism is more embracing,” he said. “We are very inclusive in Hinduism. … I think that is fine.” He said, “Most of them welcomed me. They came out and shook my hand – some of them hugged me. It was good. There are multiple viewpoints. … That is what makes the country great, you know? Different viewpoints.”

In his prayer, Zed told the Senate, first in Sanskrit and then in English, “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of other always in mind.” He said afterward, “It’s all from Hindu scriptures, very ancient. I didn’t write it.”



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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