A Summer of Advocacy: an HAF Intern’s Story

September marks both the start of the school year, and the end of the summer. And Faren Rajkumar, a young Hindu American, shares her reflection in this guest post about being an advocate this past summer: she was an Advocacy Intern at the Hindu American Foundation's DC office. A long-time volunteer with the South Florida HAF chapter, she completed photojournalism and writing programs at the University of Florida and the City University of New York. Currently, she is working on an MFA with a poetr … [Read More...]

Absent Mother God of the West: A Review

My first encounter with the writings of Dr. Neela Bhattacharya Saxena was her blog Stand Under the Mother Principle. Saxena is a Professor of English and Women's Studies at Nassau Community College in NY, where she teaches The Goddess in World Religions, a course that she created. She is interested in world religions, global literature, science fiction, and classical Indian music - and like me, sees life and the life-giving Divine through both Eastern and Western lenses, and experiences life as … [Read More...]

Being a Hindu, Being an Ambassador for Hinduism

We live amid challenging times, where ignorance about your neighbor can lead to not just “otherizing” someone you don’t know, but also to violence -  violence that stems from fear and distrust of someone whose beliefs and practices seem alien and in opposition to your own. When I moved to Michigan nearly two decades ago, I was one of a handful of people “farmed out” to be a speaker when the meager office staff received a call asking for a Hindu representative, from schools, colleges and other gro … [Read More...]

Ganesha Chaturdhi and the Start of the Academic Year

Usually the Hindu holiday of Ganesha Chaturdhi falls in late August or early Sept. - around the beginning of the academic year for most schools, colleges and universities. Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity also known as Vinayaka, is especially important for those seeking education and initiating academic pursuits: believed to be the author of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata, prayers are offered to Ganesha at the start of the new school year, the new writing project, and any new endeavor. That … [Read More...]

The Who, What and Why of WISDOM – Part 4: Pluralism, Wisdom and the NACCC

When the WISDOM presentation at the NACCC Conference was over, I asked Rev. Mary Biedron to share with us the outcome of our keynote. Did people want to know who their neighbor was, as a result of our shared stories? Her initial thoughts brought immediate satisfaction: These three talks really set a tone that carried throughout the conference, and the mosque tours were at full capacity thanks to your encouragement. Eide Alawan led the tours and was excellent. The workshop on pluralism was … [Read More...]

A Foundation for Constructive Interfaith Dialogue: Equity in Education

Fifteen years ago, I was a community activist who came into the space of actively engaging diversity and working for inclusion. I live in Troy, the city with diversity second only to Ann Arbor, in a region with more immigrants from India than from any other country. I realized that the impact of 9/11/2001 on our community — local, regional as well as national — would be far reaching, and began building more bridges of understanding across difference. I brought my whole self into these con … [Read More...]

The Who, What and Why of WISDOM – Part 3

As explained in the prior two posts, three of us from WISDOM - a Catholic, a Hindu and a Muslim - came together with the NACCC organizers to present about this interfaith women's organization here in Metro-Detroit. I took the role of speaking to the reason why I continue to serve on WISDOM's Advisory Board, amidst my often over-extended civic commitments. A Board member of both the Hindu American Foundation, a national civil and human rights advocacy organization promoting pluralism and mutual … [Read More...]

The Who, What and Why of WISDOM – Part 2

The presentation by the WISDOM panel at the NACCC Annual Conference continues, where former WISDOM Board member Gigi Salka shares her experience as a part of this women's interfaith organization for nearly a decade. She provides anecdotes from our 5 Women, 5 Journeys signature program that WISDOM has been doing over the years - along with our monthly e-News, which you can subscribe to here.Five Women Five Journeys – How Different Are We?This unique WISDOM program features personal stor … [Read More...]

The Who, What and Why of WISDOM – Part 1

As an Advisory Board member of the Michigan-based interfaith organization, WISDOM, I had the opportunity to be part of the keynote address at the 62nd annual meeting of the National Association of the Congregational Christian Churches, held in metro-Detroit this year. WISDOM is a non-profit interfaith organization, and its acronym is quite a mouthful: Women's Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro-detroit. But our message is simple. We are women who are leaders in our own ethnic … [Read More...]

Faith in Politics: Pluralism, Not Polarization

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Faith and the Election. Read other perspectives here.To respond to the idea of what is the proper role of faith in this election, it is worth examining a few things: what is faith, what is the relationship of faith in an election, and what exactly is a “proper role” of faith in the 2016 election.The Merriam Webster dictionary defines faith as: 1) strong belief or trust in someone or something; 2) belief in the existence o … [Read More...]