Apologies for my hiatus from blogging on OSO. I have spent the last week busily engaged in hosting a special Diwali celebration at Princeton University (where, as my day job, I direct the University’s newly created Hindu Life Program). The event, held on Saturday November 14, was wonderful — a magical evening of shared devotion, learning, and celebration.
Lots of Hindu student groups at colleges and universities celebrate Diwali. What made Princeton’s celebration unique, though, was that this celebration was hosted by the institution’s Office of Religious Life and held right in University Chapel — “a truly ecumenical and inter-religious worship space” according to its website — which is home to Opening Exercises and Baccalaureate, and has hosted guest preachers like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Here’s an excerpt from the wire services about the event:
Princeton University will host its official celebration of the Hindu
festival of Diwali at the University Chapel on November 14, 2009. The
Diwali celebration is hosted by the University’s Office of Religious
Life (ORL) and spearheaded by the University’s recently created Hindu
Life Program. The program was launched last year as a pilot; this fall,
Princeton made the program a permanent part of the ORL and hired Vineet
Chander to be a full-time Coordinator for Hindu Life. The unique
appointment makes Chander the first Hindu chaplain in the more than two
hundred year history of the prestigious University.
[sic] said, “One of the aspects of the celebration that we’re most excited
about is the opportunity that it provides for guests to experience
something new and expand their horizons. Last year, I met guests who
regularly attend Hindu services at the Chapel, but who had never
witnessed Hindu worship. At the same time, I met members of the Indian
community who had lived in Princeton for decades but had never set foot
in the Chapel. To bring folks like this together under a common banner
was extremely gratifying.”
(source: Hindu Press International)