Hindu Organisations, Temples and Associations (HOTA) Forum hosted a meeting of over 20 organisation executives and representatives on Sunday 25th September 2022 after being postponed due to Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021. An invitation only meeting, it was held at the Shree Swaminarayan (ISSO) Temple Complex in Papatoetoe, Auckland and was hosted by Hindu Council of New Zealand.
HOTA Forum brings together leaders, executives, and volunteers of multiple Dharma-based organisations to have a, in-depth discussion about the success, challenges, and big issues facing the community. It provides a unique opportunity to have open, candid deliberations on the current and future state of the community.
The HOTA Forum was launched at the 3rd New Zealand National Hindu conference held in May 2010. The Forum acts as a platform to bring together multiple Hindu organisations, temples, and associations throughout New Zealand. Since its start, a Hindu organisation, temple or association voluntarily takes lead in hosting the HOTA forum for a year. The host holds on to the Ekta Shankh (a symbol of unity) as the baton symbolising their lead of the programmes for the year. Over 55 organisations have been active members of HOTA since its inception and the interest to work together have been growing.
The HOTA Forum conducts two main events in a year.
- Raksha Bandhan festival: The Raksha Bandhan festival celebrates the infallible bond of universal fellowship and is an occasion to venerate womanhood. Hindus and other Dharma-based communities realised since time immemorial that the true strength of social structures are the connections and bonds between its members that affirm true fellowship between them. They also recognised the indisputable role women play in nurturing and enhancing the universal bond of fellowship.
- HOTA Forum: This is an annual meeting of all member organisations that meet to discuss, deliberate, and chart a path forward from issues and opportunities that exist for the Hindu community in New Zealand. The event that was held on Sunday 25th, September.
The focus this year was youth leadership along with the standard discussions that occur during the Forum.
“Strong focus on youth enables our next generation to actively participate in shaping the inclusive future of Aotearoa. We need the next generation to start visualising and working towards to building a pluralistic society in New Zealand,” said Nitika Sharma, General Secretary, Hindu Council of New Zealand.
The day resulted in several discussions that have been grouped into high level themes by the host with action plans in place to implement and bring to fruition the discussions. At a high level, social cohesion, belonging, inclusion, Hindu phobia, misinformation, support from government agencies, engagement with politicians and government agencies stood out as key themes. The successes of the Hindu community as contributing citizens of New Zealand also formed a large part of the discussions. A united Hindu footprint helps bring to the forefront the amazing work that multiple organisations do.
The day concluded with politicians, government agencies and public representatives attending the day to hear about the discussions, deliberations, and outcomes of the day. The chairperson of the Religious Diversity Centre, Jocelyn Armstrong attended the open session commenting, “Everyone I have spoken to told me that it was a good day of discussions and diving into important issues for the community.” A full report will be compiled and circulated.
Membership to HOTA Forum is open to all Hindu organisations, temples, and associations in New Zealand. Contact Nitika Sharma on [email protected] for details. HOTA Forum is coordinated by Hindu Council of New Zealand Incorporated.