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Exclusive “Hindu Prayer Room” sought at Emory University

Hindus are urging for a permanent and dedicated “Hindu Prayer Room” at internationally recognized Emory University in Atlanta (Georgia), founded in 1836.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Emory should respond to the requirements of Hindu students to provide designated prayer-meditation hall for rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise, which would help in their personal growth.

Emory, founded by Methodists (university maintains a formal affiliation with the United Methodist Church) in 1836, has a University Catholic Center (which “helps students become mature Catholic adults”), Baptist Center, Cannon Chapel (named for “a bishop of the United Methodist Church”), Emory Chabad House (“where every Jew is family”), Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, Marcus Hillel Center (“dedicated to Jewish life on campus”); and “Halal meals are served Fridays at Cannon Chapel”.

In the absence of a designated “Hindu Prayer Room”, the Hindu students reportedly have to perform their weekly aarthi and prayers on Fridays at Canon Chapel Sanctuary; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out.

Rajan Zed further said that “Hindu Prayer Room” would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at Emory, as it was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students. Some other universities/colleges in USA now offered Hindu prayer room.

Zed urged all US higher education institutions, both public and private, to respond to the needs of their considerable Hindu student bodies and offer prayer facility. Emory needed to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism, Zed added.

Rajan Zed suggested that the “Hindu Prayer Room” preferably 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.

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.
Emory University, which serves about 14,724 students with about $1.9 billion annual operating budget, is ranked among top in most beautiful campuses and happiest colleges. James W. Wagner is the President, while John F. Morgan is its Trustees Chair.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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