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Exploring Hindu culture

Staff Writer
Thursday, April 29, 2010

“I see many Hindus on campus, but very few actually come for Hindu Student Association” meetings, said Swami Yogatmananda, chaplain of Hinduism at Brown. Only four or five students regularly attend the Monday evening meetings, he said.

Yogatmananda said students’ minimal participation in the association may be the result of Hindu integration in the greater American culture. He added that the presence of the South Asian Students Association also decreases the need for Hindu students to affiliate themselves with the association.

“Most of the Hindu students here are really Americans … and are quite familiar with their surroundings,” he said, adding that they have less need to seek out the association’s cultural services. 

The South Asian Students Association “is more for cultural programs,” Yogatmananda said. “We focus more on religious aspects,”

Though some pujas, or prayers, have been attended by non-Hindus, most students in the association practice the religious and spiritual values of Hinduism, Yogatmananda said.

He said students come to meetings to “discuss their problems” and learn more about practicing Hinduism.

The Hindu Student Association “discusses many intellectually important questions about Hinduism,” he said. Some common questions surround what Hindu identity is, as well as how one practices the religion in the United States.

He also said most students ask about the connection between the caste system and Hindu religion.

Yogatmananda said that the association has a curriculum to address “important features of Hindu religion.”

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