The Johnson City Commission will start its meeting on March 18 with Hindu prayers containing hymns from the world’s oldest extant scripture.

According to a press release, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures remotely before members of the commission next month.

This, the release said, is reportedly the first time since the city’s incorporation in 1869 that the city has started a commission meeting with Hindu prayers.

After the Sanskrit delivery, Zed will then read the English interpretation of the prayers. According to the press release, Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, will recite from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, beside lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures.

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.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya,” which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.”

Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge commissioners and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

Zed, a global Hindu and interfaith leader, has been bestowed with the World Interfaith Leader Award. Zed is senior fellow and religious adviser to the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and on the advisory board of The Interfaith Peace Project.

He has served as a panelist for “On Faith,” an interactive conversation on religion produced by the Washington Post and has produced a weekly multi-faith panel, “Faith Forum,” in a Gannett publication for over 10 years.

Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal, the press release said. There are about 3 million Hindus in the U.S.