Throughout history, people have migrated from their homelands to different parts of the world in search of better living conditions or seek higher education. While trying to fit into the new culture, these immigrants also tried to maintain cultural and religious roots. They did this by practicing their religion at home and by congregating with families with similar cultural heritage. Similarly, few immigrants from Karnataka came to the United States prior to 1950. However, only after many more joined them in the fifties and the sixties did the strength reach to sufficient levels for organizations to nucleate.
These immigrants realized that in their homeland practice of faith was part of their daily life. Traditions were practiced without giving much importance to reasons underlying those practices and rituals. In the adopted land, people felt the lack of spiritual guides and communication with the learned religious leaders.Therefore, Veerashaiva immigrants and their children felt a greater need to understand the practice of their spiritual roots. This increased awareness and desire to impart their spiritual heritage to the next generation have resulted in religious and cultural organizations. In the late sixties and seventies, several Veerashaiva families in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC metropolitan area used to gather and celebrate Basava Jayanti, Shivaratri and other religious festivals.
In 1978 Washington DC metropolitan area Veerashaiva families founded Basava Samithi. History recorded another event in the very same year. Veerashaiva families from several other states along with those from Washington DC and Virginia met and decided to formalize an organization and thus Veerashaiva Samaja of North America was born. Basava Samithi was its first chapter . Our chapter had the honor of hosting first annual national conference in November of 1978. The mission of our chapter is to preserve and foster Veerashaivism in Washington DC & Virginia to foster a feeling of community and support.
We try to achieve this goal by having 5-6 programs year where we celebrate Shivaratri, Ugadi, Basava Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dasara and Deepavali. During the meeting we start and with Linga pooja and involve young children. We also discuss Vachanas the application of their teaching in our daily lives. The office bearers of the chapter along with members are active in developing programs.
The United States of America is truly a great melting pot. People lose their native accent within a generation. It is "in fact", very easy to lose ones identity. However, the true greatness of USA is in its acceptance of diversity to which we will always remain humbly grateful. Because of the propensity of this society to assimilate quickly, it is even more important to have active organizations like VSNA to provide a way for Veerashaivas to pass-on the cultural and religious values that makes them unique and to provide the next generation an identity in this country.