Insights and Inspiration for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful You


Insights and Inspiration

For a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful You

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Celebrating One Year of the Lotus Blooming

In one year since it went live in November 2022, has made tremendous strides. The quality of content has improved progressively to rival any in a similar niche. The number of regular readers and page views has been growing from month to month.

In furthering our mission of serving our readers as a guide to wellness and spirituality, we have made some notable advances. To further the reach of the Lotus web magazine, we have contracted an agency in Chicago to handle our Social Media and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so we come up high in Google searches. Starting in June, a biweekly newsletter is being emailed to our subscribers and potential readers.

We also had an opportunity to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in August 2023, and have carried many reports from there.  In September, we organized a discourse and meditation on Kashmir Shaivism with Virendra Qazi, an expert on the subject.

All this activity and growth could take place with the generous support of our benefactors. In 2024, Lotus is poised for a bigger round of expansion and looks forward to support from new donors and charitable organizations, as well as corporations and government agencies.   

Lotus webmag holds event on Kashmir Shaivism with Virendra Qazi organized its first public event on September 10 where Shri Virendra Qazi expounded on Kashmir Shaivism. About 70 prominent people from Long Island were edified at the session held at the Arya Samaj of Long Island in Hicksville, NY arranged by Parveen Chopra, founder editor of the Lotus webmag.

Qazi ji is a top expert and practitioner of Kashmir Shaivism, which has been garnering attention even from global spiritual gurus. He said its central teaching is, ‘I am Shiva’. “So, know that God resides in all of you and you can realize the Divine in this very life.”

He defined Kashmir Shaivism as a universal spiritual philosophy that accepts all elements of life in totality and teaches a path of realization through divine grace. The grace or shaktipat is in us all to a lesser or greater degree. He advised people to make humility, love, and compassion their second nature. “That will give you tremendous blessings.” He concluded with a brief meditation to give a taste of the follow-up experience sessions he conducts over two days.

In his introduction, Dr Nirmal Mattoo said Qazi ji has  been explaining Kashmir Shaivism to laypeople for three decades and had served in leadership roles in the Steel Authority of India. Dr Mattoo, the force behind the Center for India Studies at Stony Brook University, and co-founder of Atlantic Dialysis Management Services, also gave an erudite introduction to Kashmir Shaivism.

Mohan Wanchoo,  Chairman & CEO at EC Infosystems and philanthropist, thanked Qazi ji for “enlightening us about Kashmir Shaivism and I am sure all in the audience here benefitted as we were almost like drinking from a firehose of his pearls of wisdom.”

Qazi’s discourse was preceded by Mrs Hema Qazi rendering devotional songs in Kashmiri and Hindi. She was greeted by Kavita Wanchoo. Prof Indrajit Singh Saluja, editor-publisher of The Indian Panorama, introduced Parveen Chopra as an editor whose passion for spiritual journalism inspired him to start Lotus magazine.

Parveen Chopra reported that, launched in January, has been growing its audience at a fast clip. He added that Lotus was at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in August to cover it.   

Based in New Delhi, Qazi ji has been holding similar events in many cities in the USA and Canada during his current tour.  Ashok Vyas, program director for ITV Gold, produced the video recording of the event for his Heramba Studio.

Here is the link to watch the video on the YouTube channel of Lotus:

United Colors of Faith & Bonhomie at the Parliament of the World's Religions

Parveen Chopra

Photos by Parveen Chopra in Chicago

Parliament of the World’s Religions 2023 in Chicago is spotlighting inclusivity and diversity. It is also issuing a call to action on climate change and social justice. Lotus is there to exclusively cover the mega interfaith event. Here are some moments to savor.

Yoga Day 2023 witnessed greater awareness of the practice worldwide

by Team@Lotus

The 9th International Yoga Day on June 21 served as a global platform to raise awareness about the holistic benefits of practicing yoga. This year the theme has been, ‘Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (for the welfare of all). Indeed, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the Yoga Day celebration at the UN headquarters in New York reiterated that yoga is India’s gift to the world, sans copyrights or patents. He had spearheaded the campaign to get United Nations to declare Yoga Day in 2015.

Growing awareness of yoga was witnessed at the UN session which created a Guinness world record by gathering people of 135 nationalities together at a session. Another Guinness record was set in Surat, in the Indian state of Gujarat, where over 1.5 lakh people gathered to practice yoga on a 12 km-long stretch.  Events and mass yoga sessions were reported from Times Square to the glacial ranges of the Himalayas.    

Photos courtesy Xinhua & Twitter

The first Hindu temple in the Western world gives a universal message

by Parveen Chopra

Opened in 1905 by the Vedanta Society, founded by Swami Vivekananda, the architecture of the temple purposely embraced Western and Eastern, Hindu and Muslim influences. Called the Old Temple, it is still in service with a message that all paths to God are valid.

Looking to do some sightseeing in San Francisco, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this city with a thousand tech startups is also home to the first Hindu temple in the Western world. Learning its history and paying a visit to the temple not far from downtown revealed more of its fascinating facets. It is currently called the Old Temple by the Vedanta Society of Northern California which built it in 1905. 

After an overhaul in 2017, which included a new foundation and earthquake-proof features, it looks new enough. However, the Vedanta Society built their New Temple nearby in 1959 for their growing activities. The Old Temple building is now a monastery and holds Friday night lectures and Sunday school classes. None other than Swami Vivekananda founded various  Continued On Wisdom Page…

Discovering Japan: Seeking wellness and spirituality

Text and Pix by Shiv Chopra
Japan is a country steeped in tradition, where ancient customs and modern conveniences coexist in perfect harmony. From its bustling cities to its serene countryside, Japan is a land of contrasts that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler. During my recent trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, I had the opportunity to explore some of the country’s most iconic destinations, each offering a unique perspective on Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Tokyo’s Gardens: A Haven of Tranquility
Tokyo is known for its fast-paced lifestyle and modern architecture, but the capital city also boasts some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Stepping into the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which spotlights traditional Japanese landscaping, I was transported to a world of peace and tranquility.Traveling with my four friends we had chosen the dates of our trip to coincide with the famed cherry blossom season there.
Lasting just two weeks, cherry blossoms are a symbol of renewal and the ephemeral nature of life.Strolling beneath the sakura trees gently shedding vibrant pink cherry blossoms was a magical experience and I was reminded of this haiku by Sobaku:
Cherry blossoms/
So many / I’m bent over

Kyoto’s Shrines: A Glimpse into Japan’s Spiritual Heritage
Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, has history and tradition written all over it. The city is home to over 1,600 temples and shrines, each with its own unique charm and significance. For the Japanese, they are pilgrimage places. Walking through the hundreds of vermilion torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha was a surreal experience. In the Buddhist temple, Kiyomizu-dera, I entered a pitch-black tunnel and walked anxiously for a few minutes until I saw the light.
The tunnel symbolizes entering the womb and being reborn.

Fujikawaguchiko’s Onsen: A Journey of Self-Care
The Japanese have a long-standing tradition of hot spring bathing, known as onsen. I visited an onsen in Fujikawaguchiko, a picturesque town at the foot of Mount Fuji — which like cherry blossoms is a subject for Japanese haiku, like this one: O snail / Climb Mount Fuji / But slowly, slowly!). The onsen I visited had many steaming baths bordered by rocks and surrounded by lush greenery. It was exhilarating to relax and soak in the therapeutic waters of the hot spring.Japan is unlike any place you have visited. You should put it on your bucket list.
For more Japan photographs, go to Moving Picture page
Shiv Chopra is a computer engineering graduate from Georgia Tech, now working in a startup in San Francisco.

A Lotus In The Mud formally launched in New York

 The new wellness and spirituality web magazine founded by seasoned media person Parveen Chopra was launched on January 21 at the Indian Consulate in New York. Consul General Randhir Jaiswal did the honors.
At the well-attended launch event in the Consulate ballroom, Chopra explained the unique mojo of the website: “We source content  from both the ancient spiritual and religious traditions as well as the latest medical and scientific research. But the litmus test for every posted article is that it should have something that readers can use in their lives to be healthier, happier and peaceful.”
A video screened at the event introduced the webzine as well as Chopra’s rich experience in body-mind-spirit journalism.
Guest speakers at the Lotus launch included Nitin Ajmera, Chairman of the Parliament of the World’s Religions (via a video message); Reverend Tom Goodhue, Executive Director Emeritus of Long Island Council of Churches; Arvind Vora, founder of Shanti Fund that promotes Gandhi’s ideals among school children on Long Island; and Dr Bhaswati Bhattacharya, a licensed physician affiliated with Cornell Medical College and  author of ‘Everyday Ayurveda’ published by Penguin Random House.
Kyle Singh, PhD Physics student at Princeton, was the emcee. Renu Chopra and Lauren Colwell assisted Parveen at the event.
Supporters in attendance included Anil Bansal, entrepreneur, community leader and philanthropist;
Kamlesh Mehta, Chairman of The South Asian Times; Mohan Wanchoo, technocrat and philanthropist; Indrajit Saluja, Editor-Publisher of The Indian Panorama; real estate tycoon Darshan Singh Bagga; John Di Leonardo, founder of Humane Long Island; and Julian Lines, President of Matagiri Sri Aurobindo Center in upstate New York.

KASHI- Where Life meets Death

Lying on the banks of River Ganges, Varanasi (ancient name: Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is built along a series of riverfront steps known as ‘ghats’. Hindus believe dying in Varanasi ends the endless rebirth cycle, giving them salvation. Manikarnika ghat is where you can see bodies being cremated all the time.

The representatives of the deceased then visit local barbers to receive a ritual head shaving.
Varanasi may be known as a place to die, but during a recent visit, I found it full of life, steeped in devotion.Since ancient times, the city has been an important center of not only pilgrimage, but also learning and the arts.

Tulsidas wrote his Ramayan here. Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, is just 10 km away. Ravi Shankar, the sitar maestro, and Ustad Bismillah Khan, the famous shehnai player, were sons of the blessed city or made home here.

Photo Essay by Komal Bedi Sohal

Working in ad agencies across India, Singapore, and Dubai, Komal has won multiple awards including Cannes Lions, where she also served as jury. As a photographer she likes telling stories of people she meets during her travels. She captures feelings, nuances, and time. Her shots are spontaneous: the moments, stolen. Instagram: @kobeso