My journey to Bangkok, Thailand, for the World Hindu Congress 2023 (WHC) was an exhilarating experience that unfolded a rich tapestry of insights into the diverse facets of Hindu culture, values, and global collaborations.
Heading to Bangkok from Delhi airport, I felt a bit anxious about how I would handle my responsibilities covering such an event and conducting interviews. The prospect of competing with hundreds of journalists for exclusive reports added to the apprehension.
Upon arriving at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, anxiety crept in as it marked my first international trip without my parents. Concerns about navigating the unknown heightened due to my non-functionality of phone and the absence of Thai currency. To ensure a smooth transition from the airport to the hotel, I stuck close to my seniors. The following day, despite having Wi-Fi at the hotel and conference venue, I acquired a Thai mobile number to stay connected with my teammates.
As I stepped into the vibrant venue, the air was filled with a sense of anticipation and Hindu unity. My assignment to cover the WHC 2023 promised not only professional growth but it was also a journey of self-discovery. The sprawling venue echoed with the resonating ‘Sankhnad’, symbolising the awakening of a collective spirit that transcended geographical boundaries.
The first day proved to be exceptionally busy, requiring a swift rush to the venue to set up our magazine stall. Amid attending inquiries about Organiser and Panchjanya, I collaborated with my seniors to organise the stall efficiently. Subsequently, I delved into interviews and event coverage. Notably, visitors at the stall expressed a deep connection to Bharat through Organiser, citing it as their primary source for news about Bharat and Hindu culture.
Gathering the courage for my first interview took three hours and four encouraging nudges from my seniors. Once I started, confidence grew, leading to five interviews on the first day. Later, at the venue’s dinner, we were offered both Thai and Indian cuisines, my intention to explore Thai dishes faded upon encountering a strong fish oil odour. Consequently, I stuck to Indian food throughout the trip, finding the Thai chefs’ preparation excellent.
During a stroll through the streets of Thailand, after covering a few miles, a striking sight caught my eye—a lighting statue of Bhagwan Indra on his Airavata at a crossing. The presence of Indra on foreign soil, where the majority are not Hindus, was surprising. This experience echoed the difficulty of finding statues of Bhagwan Indra even in Indian temples today, highlighting Thailand’s significant preservation of our culture and heritage.
Another thing which impressed me a lot was the replica of Samudra Manthan at Bangkok International Airport, depicting Vishnu Kurmavatara and the churning of the Milk Ocean—a portrayal that beautifully reflects Hindu culture.
This connection between Hindu culture and Gods with Buddhism was also revealed itself during visits to temples and markets in Thailand.
Day two brought a sense of relaxation as I became accustomed to the event’s flow. With a clear understanding of my tasks, I confidently conducted six more interviews by the end of the day.
While exploring different stalls on Day two, I was particularly impressed by the Hindu University of America’s commitment to provide students with a unique academic environment rooted in Vedic thoughts, philosophies and traditions. Additionally, the stall of Vedic Cosmos, with its authentic exploration of timeless wisdom from scriptures, stood out, especially due to the attractive wooden book-style design captivated attendees of all ages.
As a young journalist, it was a privilege to cover this monumental event that brought together delegates from 61 countries, creating a platform for discussions on Hindu resurgence. Throughout the journey, I gained insights into the global dimensions of Hinduism, the challenges faced by Hindu communities worldwide, and the collective efforts to preserve and promote Hindu culture.
The experience wasn’t just about reporting; it was like sailing into the heart of a cultural revival that could shape global conversations. The Hindu Conferences also added depth to my understanding, each unveiling a unique facet of the global Hindu resurgence. From the Hindu Media Conference, I gleaned insights into the influential role of media in shaping narratives and dispelling biases.
The Hindu Organisations Conference brought my attention to the need for preserving Hindu heritage, mirroring the call for unity among diverse organisations at the main Congress. The adoption of ‘Hindutva’ over ‘Hinduism’ became a symbolic gesture of breaking free from limiting narratives. It taught me the power of language in shaping perceptions and the importance of embracing a term that encompasses the vastness of Hindu identity.
On day three in the closing session, Mata Amritanandamayi’s words resonated deeply. The call for a world rooted in love, selfless service, and ethical laws left me contemplating the role of these principles not only in society but in my own life. After the culmination of the event, I had the opportunity to personally meet Amma. Her embrace and blessings bestowed upon me left an indelible impact. It was a special feeling from within, a newfound sensation that I had never before encountered.
While engaging with people from the USA, Australia, UK, and Canada, a common thread emerged that they embraced Sanatan Dharma because it teaches us tolerance and brings tranquillity to our lives
During my journey, what deeply resonated with me was the global embrace of Hindutva, with individuals worldwide adopting the Sanatan way of life. While engaging with people from the USA, Australia, UK, and Canada, a common thread emerged that they embraced Sanatan Dharma because it teaches us tolerance and brings tranquillity to our lives.
During this journey, I ventured into vlogging for the first time, aiming to capture the significant and cherished moments. In the vlog, my Editor, Shri Prafulla Ketkar, accompanied me, providing insights into every new experience, be it Thai culture, the Hindu-Buddhism connection, or diverse cuisines. He dispelled the myth surrounding Thai massages, explaining the origins of the traditional Thai Nuad massage by Jivaka, emphasising its focus on blood circulation and medicinal properties. Joining me on this memorable vlog were Panchjanya Editor Shri Hitesh Shankar, along with my seniors, Tripti Srivastva, Nishant Kumar Azad and Ashwani Mishra whose insights helped me in learning new things.
The WHC 2023 was not just an event; it was a pilgrimage of self-discovery that left an indelible imprint on my professional and personal outlook. The lessons learnt will continue to guide my reporting and contribute to a broader understanding of the global Hindu community. As a media reporter covering the event, I gained valuable lessons that transcended the boundaries of my professional role.