The 12th January 2020 marked the celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s Birthday. It also saw the first of many meetings of concerned Hindus in Umhlanga that saw the coming together of more than 150 individuals and organisations to listen to the presentations on the challenges faced by Hindus in South Africa. Another meeting was held in Sandton on the 2nd of February which was attended by over 80 people representing organisations in Gauteng. The meeting was a response to the virtual inaction by the South African Hindu leadership against several issues including the high rate of religious conversion, media attacks against Hindus and Hindu Organisation in India, attacks against Hindus who chose to challenge the arrogance of people from other faiths towards the Hindu population in South Africa.  Many indigent and vulnerable Hindus who were given assistance in various forms by Muslim and Christian organizations with the sole purpose of religious conversion.    The Motto of Hindasa is Dharma Rakshati, Rakshitah which means those that protect dharma, dharma will protect them. In this regard, Hindasa was formed with the blessings of our Saints and Sages.
It was around the concept of “Hindu Vision 2020” with the Focus on Hindu Unity that the first meeting took place in Umhlanga and in Sandton.  While there was recognition that having a meeting in upmarket Umhlanga might distract from our responsibilities towards the poorer Hindus in the Phoenix and Chatsworth townships, among other poorer areas and people, a commitment was made to ensure that our intents and actions do not leave them out.  There was an acknowledgement that the meeting was in fact called for the purposes of this segment of Hindu society, thereby allaying fears that the gathering was no more than a middle class talk shop.  The workshop included presentations by learned Professors who had a deep love and an in-depth historical knowledge of the plight of Hindus. During the open debate period, delegates were astounded by the massive decrease in the number of Hindus from 90% to 41%. There was determination among all that more needs to be taken to encourage and empower Hindus who are vulnerable to conversion because of poverty.  
An ad hoc committee was formed thereafter, until a more substantive executive was nominated on the basis of our understanding that each one had something to contribute. This Executive met regularly to chart the way forward in terms of the issues affecting Hindus. The onset of Covid 19 brought with its own challenges that placed constraints in many aspects.
By March 2020 the concept of “Hindu Vision – Hindu Voice” was carefully discussed and the name: “Hindu Dharma Association of South Africa” (Hindasa) came about.  Against tremendous odds imposed by the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus, HINDASA was able to begin engaging in community work in carefully measured ways. Our presence was not well received by Hindu organizations that felt there was no need for the formation of another Hindu body.  However, we felt the need to contribute and to make a difference by complimenting rather than competing, by not criticizing but by being caring for the Hindu Cause. Many existing organisations failed to defend Hindus against constant attacks, conversions and media ranting.  The pages that follow provide some insight into the work that was covered in the first year of HINDASA’s existence.                

It is with both pride and solemnity that I share this Report with you.  The formation of HINDASA is a proud achievement of several people relatively unknown to each other prior to its beginning, coming together out of common concern for Hindus in South Africa.  Our common issues of concern are about maintaining Hindu values and pride across the spectrum of linguistic groups that constitute our segment of South African society.  Prior to the formation of HINDASA we were a disparate group with similar concerns but without a base for voicing our common concerns on the need for collective action.  We do not wish to take away the sterling work that numerous organisations such as the Sarva Dharma Ashram, Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, Divine Life Society, Chinmaya Mission and ISKCON, the SAI organization, and the numerous temples, are doing to cater for the indigent in this country, especially during Covid 19.  The wonder that sticks as a hallmark to each of these organisations is that they are not selective to helping Hindus only.  This is the basis upon which Sanathan Dharma proudly prevails.  But our long term aim here is to create a platform upon which all such organisations, including temples, can come together to serve Hindu interests at grassroots [1c] levels without compromising their individual statuses or time in their service to humanity.  
Starting an organization amidst an environment that fundamentally challenges the integrity of Hindu unity and Hindu beliefs is no mean task.  The severity of the challenges is exacerbated by the questionable basis upon which organisations that are supposed to defend Hindus continue to thrive upon rhetoric only, instead of providing evidence about how they are serving us through substantive action.  It is for this reason that HINDASA would like to demonstrate to the poor and downtrodden that Hindus across the board do care and are willing to assist in whatever ways we can.  Upliftment, in more ways than one, is fundamental to infusing confidence and appreciation for what Hindu civilization represents and which must be carried forward by all who see themselves as proud descendants of people who risked their all to settle in South Africa. 
Unemployment and hunger are the crucial contributing factors which must be addressed by all who are concerned about the poor and the needy.  Such victims of circumstances are often vulnerable to the predatory intentions by people of other faiths who want to boast popularity through numbers of conversions.  Religion cannot be given to hungry stomachs, but people with hungry stomachs become easy prey to the more fortunate who want to use food as a basis to convert.  It is for this reason that we have facilitated an experimental project that we hope will become a catalyst for future sustainable projects among Hindus and the indigent among other faiths who wish to become part of this effort.  It is our “Pickle Project” at the Sarva Dharma Ashram – one that is intended to make people think inwardly, and test their skills in cooperation, entrepreneurship and collaboration.  It started off as the “Mango Pickle Project”, and has extended itself to Mixed Vegetable pickles as well. Our aim is to get the Welbedacht community to set an example to other indigent people as self-help role models.  
HINDASA will need more ideas, more resources and more assistance to extend these projects into 2021.  Our aim must be to infuse confidence and ability among the needy to realize their potential and to ensure that they do not fall victim to the ‘religious conversion gangs.  Our motto must remain: “Atmano Mokshar Tha,Jagat Hithaya Cha: For one’s own salvation, and the welfare of the entire world.” Swami Vivekananda

SEVA AND FUNCTIONS by Sri PL Ramlall - Secretary General

Our activities gravitated towards the experience we gained over the years in Spiritual, Religious and community-based organizations.  Foremost among some of our interests was providing groceries and cooked food to the neediest in the Greater Durban Area.  In keeping with our preferred choice to work with people of repute so as not to reinvent the wheel, we collaborated with numerous individuals and institutions.  As the demands rose, our responses to such people and institutions were almost instantaneous, as the list below reveals: 
•Prior to the lockdown in March 2020 an appeal was made by a former member of HINDASA to donate towards 108 pots of Breyani for the week of Ram Naumi. However, the President’s announcement of a lockdown led to the collection of R50 000.00 by HINDASA being diverted to other uses through the Sri Jagannath Puri (Phoenix Hare Krishna) Temple.
•Covid-19 donations to Sarva Dharma Ashram: Various individuals from HINDASA contributed in cash and kind, such as in dried food like rice, beans and pulses – as part of a drive to prepare meals for up to 3000 people per day.  Our efforts were a willing response to the inspirational work and leadership provided by Swami Ramakripananda.
•Covid Donations to the Aryan Benevolent Home, Chatsworth, Durban: especially for the benefit of the aged and frail, and homeless children.  Once again, our fund-raising efforts were responsive to the able leadership of Mr Naren Pattundeen and his dedicated team at the ABH.
•Distribution of Cloth Masks to various organisations and Ashrams.
•Covid Donation to Ashrams in India: In the hour of need, donations were made to the Sri Santi Ashram as well for relatives residing in Andhra Pradesh.  
•Covid Donation to PM Care Funds for the poor and vulnerable of friends and relatives residing in India.  This effort is considered integral to our initiative to work with organisations in India and learn from their much bigger and extensive projects than we have in South Africa.
•Donations of old clothing were collected by members of HINDASA for use by the very poor and were distributed in the winter months through recognized institutions and individuals.
•Several hundred people were fed in Phoenix and Welbedacht to mark the anointing of the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, India. 
•HINDASA’s Nari Shakti (Women’s) group has engaged in several projects since our inception: Ram Janmabhoomi Celebrations, Women’s Day Feeding in Phoenix, Palmview, Northcroft, Foresthaven. Food prepared by Sri Satya Sai Sudha Foundation Trust; Grocery and food distribution in Phoenix for Pitar Paksh; Public function on the 26th of October in Phoenix at the Sri Shiv Shakti Dharma Sabha for Navaratri - Vijaya Dasmi Puja and Hamper Distribution; Nari Shakti Diwali Hamper Distribution in Phoenix and Chatsworth
•Heritage Day function in Phoenix together with the World Hindu Foundation. Sustainable living with the Go Green Project and food distribution. Food was prepared by Sri Satya Sai Sudha Foundation Trust.
•Two tonnes of mangoes, supplied to the Sarva Dharma Ashram part of HINDASA’s women empowerment project.  This project has brought together women from both the African and Indian communities and is having a positive effect on race relations between the two groups.
•It is HINDASA’s position that the Ram Janmabhoomi celebrations in Ayodhya, India, The 5th of August 2020 was reflective of the historical struggle of Hindus to regain their rightful place in the plethora of nations of the world and the Indian Diaspora populations spread all over them.  The struggles of Hindus in India are akin to the political struggles of the Indians in South Africa and other former British colonies.  Getting back the site by the BJP government was a long and arduous process, especially since it followed the constitutional guidelines on having that site returned to its rightful owners.  On this day the Prime Minister of India held a Ram Pujan in Ayodhya to celebrate the victory of the return of the temple to Hindus. This holy birthplace of Bhagwan Sri Ram was a victory for all Hindus throughout the World. In South Africa Ram Janmabhoomi Celebrations were held in Durban’s Luxmi Narayan Temple and Mount Edgecombe Temple. Video clips, courtesy of HINDASA Secretary General, with special messages, were posted on social media. Grocery and Food Hampers were distributed in Phoenix and Chatsworth. This was complimented with a Rs 100 000 (Indian rupees) donation to the recently initiated Ram Mandir Trust.  A special appeal was made by the Ram Mandir Trust for water from 75 countries.  HINDASA responded positively to this call by sending water to India for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.


•An Islamic TV program hosted by Attorney Yusuf Ismail attacked the formation of Hindasa at the beginning of 2020 arising from its Hindu Dharma 2020 Vision mission statement. Various questionable allegations were raised inter alia Hindasa was an offshoot of the RSS, Hindasa was anti Pakistan in the Kashmir land dispute and that Non-Resident Indians were importing India politics amongst South African Indians etc.  ITV recorded this program and this video was posted on YouTube. Upon being legally challenged to face the Equality Court ITV later withdrew this clip. The matter is still being pursued legally and we are awaiting a written apology from ITV.
•Hindasa reached out and morally, religiously and legally supported Chandra Ellaurie with regards to the Islamic call to prayer namely the Azaan. This specifically related to the High Court Appeal challenge. Hindasa championed the rights of all South African Hindus in that we all have the unfettered Constitutional   right to pray in peace and quietness especially in the practice of Meditation.
•Legal Action was and is being taken against Pastor Chetty and Rev Lewellyn at the Chatsworth Equality Court for making denigrating remarks in social media namely Facebook and YouTube regarding Hinduism with regards to the worship of the Goddess Kali and the practice of the Kavady prayer. These matters are being fought after a widespread Hindu call for action and condemnation were voiced. The prospects of legal success are good and it has created a sense of pride amongst Hindus.
•Legal action was taken against certain Christan individuals who demolished an old Port Shepstone Temple. The matter is being pursued legally on numerous grounds
•The Hindu farming community at Emona in Tongaat are facing land invasions. A meeting was held with its crisis committee and both networking and legal ideas are being shared. Strategic and historical ideas were drawn from both the 1949 riots and the 1984 Inanda riots
•Hindasa recently participated in an interfaith Peace Prayer against Terror Attacks relating to Mumbai, Mozambique, France etc. This event was endorsed by all religious groups and leaders as it promoted love and peace which is common to all faiths.
•Legal Support and Compliance advice and ideas were imparted to a few Hindu stalwart organization who are ardently engaged in helping the poor through Seva thereby preventing conversions to Islam and Christianity. A legally and commercially sustainable Seva enterprise model has been proposed, adopted and implemented. The Hindasa Hindu Dharma Seva and Relief Agency model has and is designed to financially empower unemployed or needy Hindu families who are in need of self-employment, food, clothing, shelter and medicines through job creation via Home Industries and Temples. Numerous viable projects have been identified and are being rolled out through this Hindu empowerment or upliftment model.

MEDIA REPORT Prof Anand Singh
A major challenge facing Hindus in South Africa is the power of the media.  Since the onset of social media Hindus have been facing a barrage of attacks from people of other faiths, especially from Christians and Muslims.  The generally complacent attitudes among Hindus appears to have encouraged many from these religious denominations to abuse and attack Hindus.  However, the problem is not restricted to South Africa alone.  Christianity and Islam are touted against each other on a global platform and other faiths are becoming casualties to their respective attempts to dominate the world.  The attacks against Hindus for either appreciating or supporting organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad were vociferous, public, and intended to cause damage to our beliefs and practices.  They diffuse their messages through the print media, social media as well as on national and international television.  We were being constantly dragged through insidious attacks since the end of 2019.  Had it not been for HINDASA’s stand against such chauvinism, emboldened by generously funded war rooms that have made its presence known globally, Hindus in South Africa would have been overly burdened with this immature religious fanaticism.  The irony however, is that those who label us as “right wing Hindu fundamentalists”, are guilty of precisely this attitude.  This has resonance on a global front, which is why such attitudes are being confronted head-on in almost every country. 
The very first attack against HINDASA occurred on 11th January 2020 when Prof. Anand Singh received a phone call from a Yusuf Ismail accusing us of planning a meeting to support the “Racist BJP government and its anti-muslim CAA law”. It certainly irked people who learned that an invited group of Hindus were to meet on 12th January 2020 (birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda) to discuss issues that are of relevance to our community.  But for the way the message appeared to have disseminated, Islamists in Durban were of the belief that we were going to set up an office for the BJP and RSS.  Subsequent attacks continued in the media, forcing HINDASA Executive to respond to them.  
Apart from a now pending court case against Yusuf Ismail, as well as two other cases against individuals from two other Christian churches, HINDASA has successfully challenged Muslim fanatics who are constantly trying to bait Hindus into public spats with them.  But our factual counter-charges against them have somewhat placed a lid against their immature and senseless charges against Hindus – especially for supporting India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the RSS.  Our responses to numerous letters about India’s alleged maltreatment of Muslims could not be challenged when they were asked to comment for instance on the Jihadist ethnic cleansing of Hindu Brahmins from Kashmir, or when they were challenged for misrepresenting HINDUTVA leaders like Veer Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar for the ways in which they viewed the national reconstruction of Bharat (India).  A real absurdity among these Hindu-haters and anti-Modi bandwagons is seen in how they tried to develop a narrative about Muslims allegedly being lynched since the BJP rose to power in 2014, but changed their tune in 2019 after the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) was enacted to wanting Muslims to be given a place to stay in India.  The flow of Propaganda by mushroom organisations necessitated the hosting of webinars with eminent experts in the field of CAA and Kashmir Black Day. We were fortunate to have Dr Subramaniam Swamy speak on the issues affecting Hindus in South Africa and he provided clarification on the CAA and persecuted minorities living in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan. Lt Gen (Ret) Syed Ata Hasnain who is an expert on Kashmir matters spoke on the Black Day of Kashmir and the atrocities inflicted on the people after Independence. Hindasa participated in many webinars on issues affecting Diaspora Communities and Covid 19. 
Hence, remaining alert to the media is fundamental to ensuring that Hindus be treated with dignity.  It is also important that every Hindu familiarize herself/himself with the literature on Hindutva and its progenitors such as Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Savarkar.  It is in these writings that the alternative to the exploitative tendencies in capitalism and socialism lie.  And it is for these reasons that the world’s most powerful capitalists and socialists are actually against them.  It is therefore important for you to read and empower yourselves with what these writers are saying and what HINDUTVA stands for.  It has the power to appeal to the world because it does not have agendas for religious conversion, and is very capable of being adopted as the newest form of social and economic democracy globally.