The prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy (PEA) in New Hampshire (USA) has a Hindu Puja Room in which hour-long Hindu puja (prayer) is held on Sunday evenings which is open to all PEA community.
Holi is also celebrated on the campus and it hosts a Diwali dinner, reports suggest.
Applauding PEA for provision of “Hindu Puja Room”, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, described it as a step in the positive direction. Zed commended PEA for recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism.
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.
Phillips Exeter Academy, a co-educational residential school founded in 1781 and serving over 1000 students, offers over 400 courses on a 671 acres campus in Exeter. It claims to teach students to “combine knowledge with goodness” and its tuition for boarding students is $46,905 and operating budget $93 million. Thompson Hutton and Thomas E. Hassan are Trustees President and Principal respectively and its alumni include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 14th US President Franklin Pierce, statesman Daniel Webster and writer Gore Vidal.
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.