COEUR d'ALENE - In what may be the first time in Idaho's history, Senate business will open Tuesday with an invocation that includes ancient Hindu mantras.
Idaho Senate Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, confirmed Wednesday that Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver a prayer from Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate.
"He contacted us and volunteered to do it," Hill said. "He has done this in many other states and the U.S. Congress."
Hill said there is no intent to make a political statement by allowing the prayer.
"We are always open to prayer from other faiths," Hill said. "This is not a statement, but it demonstrates our tolerance for other religions."
Zed has sent Hill a copy of his prayer, and the senator said Zed understands this invocation is not about him or his religion.
Zed sent a press release on Tuesday announcing the invocation as possibly the first time Hindu mantras have ever been delivered in Idaho's Capitol Building.
"He asked me if this was the first time it has happened in Idaho's history, and I told him I thought it was," Hill said. "But I didn't go out and take the time to research that."
In his release, Zed said he intends to deliver the prayer in Sanskrit, and follow the prayer with the English translation.
He plans to start and end the prayer with "Om," the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.