Swami Vivekananda Essay Contest

Sponsored by the Vedanta Society of Southern California in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth

Official Contest Rules

The Vedanta Society is pleased to announce an essay contest to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. He was the founder of the Ramakrishna Order of India and the spokesperson for Hinduism at the first Parliament of Religions in Chicago, IL in 1893. His addresses at the Parliament were enthusiastically received. Over the next 9 years his speeches brought attention to the spiritual heritage of India throughout the world. His impact on the spirituality of both the East and the West has been tremendous.

The essay contest is open to residents of the USA and has four age categories. Your age on March 31st, 2012 determines the age category for which you are qualified. The essay must be your own work. Other people may not help you in the writing of the essay. Essays will be judged anonymously. Do not include your name on the essay. The email to which the entry is attached will identify you. The contents must not include information that would reveal your identity to the judges. For example, you could not say something like “My mother Doris was inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s Karma Yoga.” Or “I feel especially drawn to Swami Vivekananda because I was born on July 4th.”

With the exception of the Elementary age category, entries must be submitted electronically to Swami Atmavidyananda at atmavidya@vedanta.org by midnight, March 31st, 2012 PDT. They must be in either Rich Text Format or a Microsoft word document format. (Elementary age contestants have the option of mailing in a hand written essay. These must be postmarked no later than March 31st.) In the e-mail to which you attach your entry, state your name, address, e-mail address, age, birthdate, and a phone number where you may be reached. Do not put this information on the essay itself. In the subject line put “Vivekananda Essay Contest”. (For the hand written elementary age entries, this information should be on a separate cover sheet.) The allowable lengths of the essays in each age category are listed above, along with the topics and cash prize amounts. Document format must be for 8.5″ x 11″ paper. (portrait orientation)

Each age category has two possible topics. A contestant may submit an essay on either topic. Alternatively, contestant may submit a separate essay on each topic. You may not submit an essay that combines the two topics. You may not submit two essays on the same topic. You may not use a topic in another age category. The topic you choose must be clearly identified at the top of the essay. Each essay will be judged on its merits. The judges will not know whether or not a contestant has written an essay on each topic.

Entrants will be assigned an entry number. The essays will be reproduced without the contestant’s name or other identifying information. Only the contestant’s number and age category will be on the document. Two or more judges will read each entry and assign points in various categories. The average score for each contestant will determine the winner. Criteria for scoring will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Development of the topic
  • Organization of ideas
  • Writing style and audience appeal
  • Grammar and spelling

One winner in each age category will be selected. The winners will receive a cash prize and will read their essays at the Annual Ramakrishna Public Dinner in the afternoon on May 6, 2012 at the Hollywood Temple of the Vedanta Society, 1946 Vedanta Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90068. Transportation costs to Los Angeles will not be furnished.

At the judges’ discretion, contestants may be disqualified for not following the rules. All contestants with qualifying entries will receive a certificate of participation. It will be the prerogative of the judges to add additional awards should the number and quality of the entries justify it. The decision of the judges will be final.

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