Bates College in Lewiston (Maine, USA), a highly selective residential college, founded by Freewill Baptists in 1855, has instituted a “Hindu shrine”. Applauding Bates for provision of “Hindu shrine” located in its Chase Hall, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, described it as a step in the positive direction. Zed commended Bates 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.
“One of the first U.S. institutions of higher learning to admit women and people of color”, Bates claims to be “a college for coming times”. It has about 2,000 students and offers 33 majors and 20 minors. Ava Clayton Spencer is the President, while Michael W. Bonney is Trustees Chair.
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.