Indo-Caribbean students establish Mandir among the City Universities

Dear Editor,

For the last three years, a group of mostly female Hindu students of Indo-Caribbean descent have gotten together and formed a Hindu Club and the first ever Mandir on a campus in New York City amongst the City Universities. The students are mainly from Trinidad and Guyana with a small percentage from India, America and Europe. The Hindu Club gave a kind of parallel academic growth and academic empowerment which most Indian graduates do not have including studies in Hindu philosophy, history and issues they face around the world to uphold that Dharma. The club also attracts many non-Hindus out of curiosity and fascination with the culture.

The founding sisters which include Nisha Ramracha, Melanie Balmick, Hardai Banjoo, Evelisse Viamonte, Linda Willis, Tina Marie, Roshelle Ramtahal and one guy Viresh Ramnarayan, etc,  felt that Hinduism had no foundation on the campus from where Hindus and those with an interest could meet for prayer, celebrate festivals and educate others about Hindu beliefs. They are currently trying to have Hindu studies and Hindi become a part of the school curriculum, since all graduates are required to have a foreign language and diversity courses for graduation.

However, while the school met all their needs, the ladies were surprised that most of their opposition in forming the club and Mandir came from the Hindus students from India. The students from India many of whom belong to an Indian cultural club on campus never entertained the idea of having a mandir on campus in an environment that has all places of worship for the other faiths. These Indians either displayed a high degree of ignorance, jealousy or a lack of nationalism. In fact, the school placed the mandir right next to the campus Mosque and one Hindu from India asked them to move the mandir, on the grounds that the Caribbean Hindus have should have respect for Islamic belief in absolutely no idol worship. The Mandir was built next to the Mosque anyway and continues to open its doors to those who want to learn about Sanatan Dharma. These Indo-Caribbean sisters were credited by some top officials visiting from India, in establishing the first Mandir in a City University that now seems to be proliferating to other campuses.

 

Yours faithfully,
Vassan Ramracha

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