The prestigious Grinnell College in Iowa (USA), founded in 1846 as a Congregationalist college, now has a dedicated “Hindu Prayer Room” with 24-hour access and Lord Ganesha installed in it.
Located in the Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice; “Hindu Prayer Room” is accessible to students from eight am to 12 midnight every day when the College is in session, but by request, a student can have 24-hour access using their student ID to enter the building. Lord Ganesha was installed by a priest in this Room, reports suggest.
Applauding Grinnell for provision of dedicated “Hindu Prayer Room”, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, described it as a step in the positive direction. Zed commended Grinnell for recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism.
Besides the exclusive “Hindu Prayer Room”, Grinnell Hindu students can also reportedly use the larger Prayer and Meditation Room or smaller Multi-Religious Library/Prayer and Meditation Room located in the Center.
Grinnell states to have many vegetarian options at several stations and an exclusively Vegan Station in its Marketplace (dining hall).
According to reports, Grinnell also celebrates campus wide the Hindu festivals of Diwali (which often starts with a puja) and Holi annually. Some years, the Dusserah and Navratri festivals were also celebrated before Diwali. Saraswati Puja was also held few times in the past.
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.
Grinnell College, which claims to offer “world-class education”, consistently ranked among the nation’s best liberal arts colleges. With about 1,600 students, it offers 39 majors and concentrations with over 500 course offerings. With Dr. Raynard S. Kington as President and Patricia Finkelman as Trustees Chair, it claims “strong commitment to social responsibility” and its library contains about one million books and documents.
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.