Hindus are urging for a permanent and dedicated Prayer Room at University of Western Australia (UWA), a public research institution which claims to be a “leading global university”.
UWA already has a Chapel and Muslim Prayer Room; and lists Anglican, Catholic and Islamic Chaplains on its website.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that UWA 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.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Hindu Prayer Room would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at UWA, as it was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students.
Rajan Zed suggested that the Hindu Prayer Room preferably should have a shrine 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.
Zed urged UWA Chancellor Robert Shenton French and Vice-Chancellor Amit Chakma to seriously look into this issue of unfair treatment and disparity. A public and taxpayer funded institution like UWA, which claimed various “inclusion” awards and listed “equity” as one of its “Values”, should not be in the business of discriminating among various religions and belittling entire communities; Zed noted.
UWA, which prided itself as “a world top 100 university” and claimed to have “demonstrated a strong track record in cultural and religious diversity”; should be more receptive to the needs of its diverse student body and staff; Rajan Zed indicated.
Zed further said that Hinduism was oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and it should not be taken frivolously. All faiths, larger or smaller, should be duly respected.
Rajan Zed also urged all Australian higher education institutions, both public and private, to respond to the needs of their considerable Hindu student bodies and offer prayer facility. Educational institutions needed to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism; Zed added.
Established in 1911, UWA; which claims to recognize “the diversity of backgrounds of its community”; has over 25, 000 students.