Dr. Siva Subramaniam becomes the first Hindu-American recognized by Interfaith Council

Dr. Siva Subramanian receives the ‘Interfaith Leadership Award’ from the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington’, at its 40th anniversary interfaith conference at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Nov. 14. From left, Kalyani Subramanian, Subramanian, Dean Stephen Ray Mitchell of Georgetown University School of Medicine, Sri Raghavan past chair of Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, emcee Amber Khan, and Rabbi Gerry Serotta, executive director of Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dr. Siva Subramanian, 74, chief of the Department of Neonatology, senior ethicist, and professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Hospital, on Nov. 14, became the first Hindu-American to be honored with the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington’s ‘Interfaith Leadership Award’ at its 40th anniversary interfaith conference at the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

The IFC said it was recognizing Subramanian “for his inspiring leadership,” and noted that he “has been an outstanding and compassionate leader of the Hindu community, the medical community, and the broader interfaith community in our area for over 45 years. During a year when we continue seeing increases in hate crimes, divisions, and prejudice in our country, publicly celebrating a man who is a healer and a bridge builder among us will bring our community hope,” it said.

This year’s concert also commemorated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi and according to IFC, provided “an opportunity to recognize the powerful presence of the United Hindu Jain Temples (UHJT) among the faith groups in our nation’s capital.” IFC said Subramanian “played a key role in founding the UHJT Association in this region in 1990 in order to join the Interfaith Council as a united community.”

He has also co-founded Sri Siva Vishnu Temple (1976), Council of Hindu Temples of Northern America (1984), and the Hindu American Community Service Incorporation (2009).

The IFC was formed by the three Abrahamic faiths led by the Christian along with the Jewish and Islamic leaders in 1978 and then went on to incorporate  Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and other faith leaders to support IFC’s efforts to unite the region under the banner recognizing that “we are ‘all faiths, one family,’” on Nov. 14, as has been the tradition, also included artistic performances of music and dance from several area religious faith communities. 

Amber Khan, who emceed the program, read the citation and along with Mitchell, Raghavan and Rabbi Gerry Serotta, executive director of IFC, gave the award to Subramanian with his wife Kalyani by his side.

In an interview with India Abroad, the Chennai-born Subramanian, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1971, said receiving the IFC award was “both humbling and fulfilling” and said that it was also “meaningful because it is said in Bhagavad Gita that it is your duty to do service without expecting any reward.

“It is important that we help in every way possible in serving others before you is the correct dharma as said by Swami Vivekananda and this award is an outward recognition of one’s service but one should not have that an expectation.”

As a longtime Indian-American community leader in the Washington, D.C. area, he said the community’s priorities should be carefully re-examined in such an environment, particularly since “Our South Asian community particularly are vulnerable in this environment.”

Thus, Subramanian said, “Each one of us should come together and support each other regardless of our religion or ethnicity and nation that one comes from. Otherwise, those who harbor hate and prejudice will divide and conquer. We should intensify our dialogues and our actions should be that we all come together and be unified, whether it is in community service or reaching out to government representatives in local, state and federal areas on issues that are critical and important to us.”

 As to what he would like to be remembered for and what he would want his legacy to be, Subramanian said, “What I would like to be remembered for is as a family man of faith and humility, who was compassionate to his fellow human beings and always tried his best to seize each and every opportunity to help others, both in the medical field and outside in community service as well, while always maintaining the integrity of my profession.”

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