Vote Your Conscience, Vote with Pluralism

It's almost Election Day. I am reminded that I and many other Hindu Americans have choices ahead of us -- not just at the presidential level, but all the way down the ballot. I believe it is my dharma to go vote - it is a responsibility that I take on. As we consider the various candidates and their stand on the issues, I think of how important it is to have the opportunity to vote, and the diversity of  perspectives I bring: a woman, a planning commissioner for my city, an IT professional, a w … [Read More...]

An Enlightened Diwali: Saving the Sacred at Standing Rock

This Diwali weekend, I thought I would take the time to do something that is symbolic of Diwali’s deeper significance: focus on the non-materialistic aspects of the holy day and shed the light of awareness on an issue that many are ignorant about.  The story of what is happening at Standing Rock is being largely ignored amidst the backdrop of the presidential election campaign and the hate that it has generated. As a Hindu who values the sacredness of all life and all Creation, the silence from t … [Read More...]

Denial the Movie: Denying Intolerance, Seeking Truth

To consider the question of whether faith prevents or propagates intolerance, I am stuck, as I often am when providing a Hindu perspective on a variety of things. When asked about Hinduism, deeply rooted in the Eastern philosophies of ancient India, it’s often difficult to provide a clear cut answer in English, a Western language with its origins in the tribal dialects spoken by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes.  And then to respond to the auxiliary question, of whether someone has the right to deny … [Read More...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]