Ivy League Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, which consistently ranks among the world’s greatest academic institutions, reportedly has a “Hindu Temple” which holds daily and weekly Friday pujas (prayers). This “Hindu Temple” carries a statue of Saraswati; Hindu goddess of knowledge/learning, music, art, language/speech, and poetry. Dartmouth has an official Hindu student organization called Shanti for those “interested in practicing, learning about, and representing the Hindu faith” and to “cater for the religious needs of the growing Hindu community at the college”. Besides pujas, it also organises special events, reports suggest.
Applauding Dartmouth for provision of “Hindu Temple”, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, described it as a step in the positive direction. Zed commended Dartmouth for recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged all USA universities, colleges and residential schools; both public and private; to respond to the spiritual needs of diverse student body and provide permanent and dedicated Hindu prayer/meditation room for rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise. It would help in the personal growth of Hindu students who were present in substantial numbers on various campuses. It was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students, Zed added.
Rajan Zed suggested that these Hindu prayer rooms should have an altar containing murtis (statues) of popular Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Durga, Venkateshwara, Ganesha, Murugan, Saraswati, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Kali, etc.; besides being equipped with ghanta (big metallic bell hanging from the ceiling), dholak (two-headed hand-drum), Shiva-linga, etc. He or other Hindu scholars would be glad to help, if asked, regarding the structure of “Hindu Prayer Room”, Zed indicated.
Dartmouth College in Hanover, founded in 1769 by a Congregational minister, has about 6,300 students. Philip J. Hanlon is the President.
Hinduism, 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.