Hindu priest at White House Prayer Day event for first time

The priest called for world peace at an event where President Trump also announced a program offering faith-based equal access to federal funding


A Correspondent


Narayanachar Digalakote, a senior priest from the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Maryland, on Thursday became the first Hindu priest to chant sacred Vedic mantras and offer prayers at the White House celebration of the National Prayer Day.

Speaking at an event also addressed by President Donald Trump, Digalakote started his prayer in the Rose Garden saying, “Namaste! My salutations to all of you.” Wearing a bright red shawl and sporting a traditional tikka on his forehead, the senior Hindu priest from the temple in a suburb of Washington DC invoked Ganesha in his prayers and called for world peace and well-being for all mankind.

“All of us are divine. I bow to the divinity in all of you. Om Shri Ganesai namah,” Digalakote said as part of a prayer before a select gathering of religious leaders from various faiths.

A Vaishnava pancharatra aagama priest, he is from Digalakote, Karnataka, a disciple of Shri Savyasachi Swamigal, Vaishnava Acharya. Comfortable in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Sanskrit and English, Digalakote was also the first priest to offer prayers at the White House Deepavali celebration initiated in 2009 by then US President Barack Obama.

In his remarks, Trump recognized the Hindu priest along with others: “Priest Narayanachar, Sister Bingham, Chaplain Agbere, Rabbi Shemtov, Cardinal Wuerl, and the Hope Christian Church Choir.”

“The prayers of religious believers helped gain our independence, and the prayers of religious leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King – great man – helped win the long struggle for civil rights,” Trump said in his address. “Faith has shaped our families, and it’s shaped our communities. It’s inspired our commitment to charity and our defense of liberty. And faith has forged the identity and the destiny of this great nation that we all love.”

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