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Spokane Hindu Society introduces basics of their faith in Meet the Neighbors

Interfaith Council Faith and Values launched its second season of Meet the Neighbors with a March 25 program that included a Hindu service of hymns, a ceremony of cleansing, a children’s presentation on faith and culture, an overview on Hinduism, a meal and fellowship.

The goals were to impart information on the faith and have an opportunity for people to make new friends.

Children explain the “namaste” greeting.  Panelists answer questions about Hinduism. An altar set up for the occasion.

The Spokane Hindu Society, which started in 2016, organized this event with the council as one of their monthly gatherings at the Southside Senior Community Center.

The gatherings help parents teach children about the roots, teachings and culture of Hinduism.  Each month, they celebrate a Hindu festival.   In March, they celebrated Holi, the Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love.  People frolic and smear each other with colored powder or toss it in the air over each other.

Nishant Puri, a physician who was emcee, introduced a presentation by 12 children, saying that for Hinduism, like all traditions, it’s important to transmit the religion to the next generations.

The children explained their names and some of the beliefs and traditions.

Chanting “Om” or “Aum” in meditation is a sacred syllable in nature, said one.

Another said Hindus have 33 million gods and then explained that Hindus worship or respect everyone and everything in nature.

Still another child said, “Hinduism teaches us to be tolerant of all religions, and the goal of all religions is to be one with God.”

In his presentation, Nishant explained, “We believe in one God with endless aspects and names.  The deepest spirit is Truth, which is about divine reality present in all life.  We have a divine responsibility for all creation.”

The different gods and goddesses represent different ways of connecting with the Divine, he said.

“We believe in Karma, that every action in our past or past lives produces an effect,” he said.  “There are consequences to our actions.  Karma—our deeds—creates our destiny.

“We also believe in Dharma, our ethical duty, which determines reincarnation or rebirth after this life in the cycle of birth and rebirth.  What we do creates good or bad,” Nishant said.

He addressed “the popular notion” that Hindus believe in idol worship, explaining that “Murti,” the word for idol, translates to mean that an image Hindus focus on for meditation and prayer embodies a value.

Nishant also said Hindus have contributed to math (zero and the value of pi), chemistry, metallurgy, medicine (surgery and anesthesia), chess and the practice of yoga.

A panel of four then answered questions: Prakash Bhuta, an EWU biology teacher, and Aruna Bhuta, a social worker, who have been in Spokane 34 years; Jayesh Modha who has been here 10 years and works in computer science, and Rahul Sharma, who has been in business here for seven years.

Hindu drummer

Rahul said Hindus practice faith by being good every day. 

“It’s the human thing to be kind to family and care for neighbors and community. Hinduism is a way of life,” he said, suggesting that it’s more about relationships than rules.

Aruna, a social worker, who sang hymns at the opening of the service, briefly explained the altar with a picture of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.  The other picture is the wise, elephant-headed Ganesha, the Lord of success and remover of obstacles. 

“In the ceremony after the hymns, we lit a lamp on the altar for enlightenment, which comes by looking at our shortcomings and seeing our true selves,” Aruna said.

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