University of Missouri to celebrate Hindu Holy Days

Hindus have commended prestigious University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) for recommending academic and other accommodations to its faculty, staff and student leaders regarding Hindu students and staff observing six religious days.

The Hindu holidays suggesting accommodations listed on Mizzou’s calendar are: Krishna Janmashtami, Navratri, Diwali, Holi, Vaisakhi and Raksha Bandhan. “…information about recommended academic and food accommodations will be valuable to those planning classroom activities and other academic and co-curricular events”, announcement under “Major Holidays and Suggested Accommodations” on its website says.

Welcoming this inclusion and calling it “a step in the right direction”, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hinduism was rich in festivals and religious festivals were very dear and sacred to Hindus.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that a more inclusive understanding of religion was needed and we should learn to live together with mutual loyalty despite our seriously different faiths. All religions were different ways to relate to the Divine, different responses to the Reality and were a positive sign of God’s generosity, Zed added.

Rajan Zed urged Mizzou to add Durgapuja, Ganesha Chaturthi, Dasara, Maha Shivaratri, Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navami also to this list of holy days suggesting accommodation. He asked that Mizzou should declare Diwali, most popular Hindu holy day, as a university-wide holiday for all.

Zed pointed out that awareness about other religions thus created by this calendar would make Mizzou students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. He urged all the universities and colleges in USA to provide accommodation to Hindu students on their holy days.

Rajan Zed also applauded Mizzou’s Museum of Art and Archaeology for showcasing Hindu gods and goddesses in its nearly three-months long “Seeing the Divine in Hindu Art” exhibition last year. Permanent collections of this Museum reportedly include various stone and bronze statues of Hindu deities Vishnu, Shiva, Parvati, Durga, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Rama.

Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

Founded in 1839 and considered one of the nation’s top-tier institutions, Mizzou (which calls itself “classroom for the best and brightest”) offers 321 degree and certificate programs, with about 35,000 students from 120 countries (including many from India) besides all the 50 states of USA. With Bengal Tiger as the Mascot, it has over 267,000 living alumni; its library has 2.7 million volumes; its FY2013 budget is $2.1 billion; it has a nuclear research reactor and a nationally recognized power plant on the campus; and its researchers are creating healthy new food products, including a soy chicken substitute. Brady J. Deaton is the Chancellor.

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