Supporting our Veterans


BRANCHBURG — Rotary club of Branchburg teamed-up again to support veterans by donating $70.000 to seven different Veterans organizations.
It’s become our tradition, for the past several years, Rotary club of Branchburg have collaborated with various Veterans organizations in support of the nation’s veterans. It’s our way to say “thank you” to our vets for providing the freedom we enjoy.
With surviving veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, it continues, along with thousands more who served in the Middle East and in other conflicts, there are literally thousands of veterans in the United States, too many of whom have fallen on hard times since their return to civilian life.

Branchburg Rotary Donates$70,000  to Veterans organizations during their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Service of Gratitude.


“There are many challenges facing our veterans when they return from active duty,” notes Joe Horner, Veterans Program chair.

Branchburg Cub Scout troop 135


“Examples are readjusting to civilian life and returning to the workforce. Sadly, many of the jobs they held before leaving to serve their country are no longer available, which makes the prospects of finding meaningful work more difficult than ever,” he points out.
“To help in this time of need, Rotary club of Branchburg, our community, and many other Veterans Service organizations wanted to make a positive difference in their lives as one small way to show our gratitude for the sacrifices these heroes have made on behalf of all Americans.”
For out-of-work veterans, food, shelter and clothing are often quite difficult to come by, particularly when it comes to seasonal items, such as winter coats and jackets. That was the motivation that launched the initial collection drive several years ago.


“Support for this worthy cause has grown each year,” says Joe. “Many people came together with timely donations to show how much we care about our veterans.”


The Rotary club of Branchburg was founded in 1988, has been doing many community service project. Rotary just celebrated its 30th anniversary. This year Rotary club of Branchburg raised more than $100,000 to help local veterans and the club distributed more than $71,000 dollars to seven different veterans organizations who helps veterans directly during their 17th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Service of Gratitude. The Veterans organizations are Operation ChillOut, Operation Sisterhood, Frontline Arts, Operation Jersey Care, Welcome Home Vets, NJ Veterans Network and Horses for Forces.


Rotary International is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and works to build peace and goodwill in the world.
Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 34,200 clubs across the globe.

Representative from the Horses for Forces. 

MHA PUJA (Self Worshiping) A Newari tradition.

As part of a unique old tradition, ethnic Newar community in New Jersey celebrated Mha Puja or the self worshiping on Saturday, November 10th.
Mha puja, (Body worship) the worship of the inner self, is a unique tradition of the Newari community of Nepal. Newa people believe that one needs to understand and respect oneself before he/she can understand others. Mha puja (is purification, strengthening, empowering the soul and understanding of oneself). Mha puja exposes the relationship of a person with the surrounding nature and the cosmos. Mha Puja, which is marked annually during the Kathmandu’s second biggest festival Tihar. The day is celebrated as a part of celebrations of their New Year called Nepal Sambat as per the lunar calendar.

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During the festival, family members gather and sit on the floor and worship their bodies with a belief that it will purify the body, mind and soul for enlightenment. They use the elements like flowers, fruits, oil lamps, nuts and sweets to worship after creating a colorful Mandala, circle of life.


Manda (Mandala) is an essential part of Mha puja celebration. First the floor is purified by sprinkling holy water. Next Mandalas are created on the floor in front of the row of seats for each family member. The total number of Mandalas exceeds the number of people in the household by three. One at the top of the line, which is usually smaller in size and separate from the rest, is for the House-God. This is followed by one for each and every member of the household and two additional ones at the end that are at right angles to the main row. The last two Mandalas are for the ever-watching Yamaraj and Jamaraj, the ambassadors of Death who are always ready to take sinners to hell.

 


Oil marks last longer just as Itah (oiled strand of strings) burns longer. Circles signify completeness. On the top of the oil rings a beautiful and artistic geometrical shape which constitutes the core of the Mandala, is created. The markings are done in yellow Potaye (yellow mustard powder). On the outside is a large ring enclosing a smaller one within which two squares are overlapped to form eight triangular shapes. Abhir (vermilion powder) is spread along the various Potaye lines. A handful of paddy and rice mixture is placed on each of the four triangles along the north-south and east-west lines with respect to the worshiper (worshiped) and one at the center of the Mandala.

 


Next comes the very important offer of light. Two Itaa (hand-woven cotton strands soaked in oil) about two and a half feet long, are lighted at each end and offered to the worshiped who accepts by chanting in Sanskrit – “Swah prakashah mahatejo sarbapatti bidapaham. Sabhayabhyamtaram jyoti deepoyam pratigrihyatam.” Newars use Sanskrit words during the worship. The light is accepted to enhance one’s inner supreme brightness and to drive away any possible problems. The blessing is for the person to be able to keep shining bright like the burning Itaa for a long, long time. The four lighted ends occupy the locations of the four outer paddy/rice lumps in the Mandala. Soaking of Itaa with mustard oil makes it last longer. The lights are kept on through the completion of the whole Mha puja process. Light, which is considered as one of the five elements used to create the universe (the other four are air, water, earth, and sky), has a special meaning in worships. The offer of light spiritually brightens the inner self, makes it more powerful and keeps anything evil at bay.

 

Sagun is another very important part of Mha Puja. Offering of Swaga (Sagun) to a person is usually made to to a person for their extraordinary and meaningful achievement. Dhau Swaga on the forehead unveils the shining and cheerful face enjoying a great celebration. Next comes the all important Khen (egg) Sagan. Khen Sagan constitutes the offering of Nyata (the five elements of egg, fish, Rakshi, bada and meat).. Nyata (five) signifies the five elements of water, fire, earth, air and space.

 


The final purification of the soul and the blessings come from the Naki (female head of the community) with a pouring of a mixture of paddy, flowers, pieces of fruits, abhir (vermilion powder), aakhen (hand-milled rice) and taye in a Patthi (bronze container about a gallon size). All during the puja, the light keep burning, the incense keeps spreading fragrance and the colorful Mandalas keep cheering the mood. Completion of Mha puja is achieved after the Naki drags tuphi (broom) from House-God’s Mandala all the way down to Jamaraj’s Mandala.

Shilpy Malla, a Hillsborough resident attended the event with her husband and young son. “This is my first time to experience such unique celebration with FONNJ family. I feel lucky to celebrate this special Mha Puja with my family,” Malla said.


The participants also enjoyed homemade special dishes like Sanya Khuna, PauuKwa, MeeKwa, Sisa pusha, special sweets, Pukula and Thou (special brewed liquor, popular among Newar community). Young kids prepared Masala pow (dreid fruits and sweets) and helped to prepare Mandala – circle of life.

“The main purpose of this event was to teach our young generation about our culture and tradition”, said, FONNJ Vice President Roshan Karmacharya.
Surendra Man Singh, said, “We are very rich in culture and tradition thus the participation of young generation in such rituals strengthen the ties between community and culture of birth. It is an integral part of culture preservation.”

Group Picture. 

Empowering Women in Nepal through MicroCredit.

Our past programs have proven that one small loan can change a family.  Several loans can strengthen a community and Thousands of small loans can transform an entire Village.

 
With the Rotary International’s $95,000 matching grant, Rotary club of Branchburg and Rotary club of Mahabouddha in Nepal, is changing many peoples lives in Nepal.  With a small $500 loan can buy a new tool, a machine, or a shop in the marketplace—millions of the world’s poor and low-income people have taken advantage of small loans to improve their lives. Over the past three decades, people have used these loans, known as Micro Credit, to launch new enterprises, create jobs and help economies to flourish. Poor people have proved time and again that they are able to repay these loans on time.

 
What is it? 
The Asha Project’s Micro Credit program is founded on a novel idea that education and financial support, not charity, provides the surest way out of poverty for poor families, Rotary Districts 7510 USA and 3292 Nepal in collaboration with the Friends of Nepal- NJ established the
“Legacy of Hope Micro Credit Project” to provide Nepal earthquake victims with $100,000 worth of micro credit loans. As a result, these people will gain knowledge and a source of income for themselves and their families.
 
The micro credit project has been empowering and providing hope for hundreds of people in Nepal to take control of their lives, improve their family’s standard of living and provide what every family wants for their children — hope for a brighter future through better nutrition, health care and most importantly education.
Our Rotary clubs are working on various ways to alleviate local poverty, one of which is to provide loans for disadvantaged people. Micro loans are powerful instruments for reducing poverty by enabling people to increase income and reduce their vulnerability to economic stress. Micro loans are also a powerful catalyst for empowering women.
 
For the past ten years our project  has helped to provide loans to more than 500 families.  The Branchburg Rotary is providing real hope and opportunity for a better future for the people of Nepal.  If you like to learn more about the project, please contact Past District Governor Dr. Tulsi Maharjan at trmaharjan@gmail.com