Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has suggested that diverse religious leaders should read the opening prayer in New Zealand House of Representatives on a rotation basis.
Currently, per Standing Order 62, “at the commencement of each sitting, the Speaker reads a prayer to the House”. Sometimes, the Speaker delegates another House Member to say it.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism and who has read invocations in both United States Senate and US House of Representatives, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that like US Senate and US House, diverse religious leaders should be invited to read a short opening prayer from their respective traditions in New Zealand Parliament.
Rajan Zed indicated that politicians should leave the prayers to religious leaders as prayer was a solemn address to God, a devout/earnest/reverent petition to God, a spiritual communion with God, an attempt to create rapport with God, etc. It should be taken seriously and involve devotion/emotion/intensity and should not be rushed-though just as another bureaucratic drill to fulfil a requirement.
Moreover, opening prayers at the Parliament should be reflective of the multi-cultural society the New Zealand has become. Hearing their prayers being read in the Parliament would be heartwarming for the adherents of diverse faith groups who would thus feel included in the larger New Zealand family, Zed stated.
Rajan Zed urged New Zealand Governor General Patsy Reddy, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, House Speaker Trevor Mallard, House Leader Chris Hipkins, House Opposition Leader Judith Collins, House ACT Party leader David Seymour, House Green Party leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson, and House Māori Party to seriously look into the structure of House opening prayer to make it more meaningful.