Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 12:
Hindu leader Rajan Zed on Wednesday said Brandeis University (BU) in Waltham (Massachusetts, USA) must respond to the requirements of its Hindu students and provide designated a prayer-meditation hall for rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise, which would help in their personal growth.
In a statement issued in Nevada (USA) today, Zed, who is President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said he was disappointed on learning about the reported cancellation of the “Murthi Sthapana (idol installation) ceremony to establish the Hindu altar on the campus”, which was scheduled for February 6. Instead the ceremony got reportedly replaced by a discussion about faith and space when concerns were raised regarding space sharing.
“The purpose of the ceremony is to awaken the mind of the participants, through the power of rituals, to the presence of divinity within the sacred,” Zed said in the statement. All were invited to witness the ceremony in the announcement which was posted on campus blogs, Facebook and Events Calendar and showed the image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh.
BU already has three chapels — the Harlan Chapel (Protestant), the Bethlehem Chapel (Catholic) and the Berlin Chapel (Jewish) — which can hold wedding and other ceremonies; besides a Muslim prayer room and resource centre.
Zed pointed out that establishment of a permanent Hindu prayer room would be a “step in the right direction” in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at BU, as it was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students. Some other universities/colleges in USA now offered Hindu prayer rooms.
Zed urged all USA and Canadian universities, both public and private, to respond to the needs of their considerable Hindu student bodies and offer prayer facility. BU needed to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism, he added.
Founded in 1948 and spread over 235 acres with over 5,800 students, Brandeis is one of the most selective private research universities and is ranked in the top tier in the nation. It counts among its alumni a Nobel laureate, former Iceland Prime Minister, three Pulitzer Prize winners, and several Emmy Award-winning actors-broadcasters-producers. Annual tuition-room-board cost in the university is over $57,000. Perry M. Traquina and Frederick M. Lawrence are Trustees Chair and President respectively.
Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.