Hindu Students Association raises cultural awareness, builds community during Hinduism week

Cat DeLaura

In an effort to educate UT students on the values, practices and traditions constituting Hinduism, the Hindu Students Association is hosting Hinduism Awareness Week.

The theme for this year’s awareness week is Saving our Bhumi, which means “Mother Nature” in Sanskrit, said event co-chair Hiranmayee Buyyanapragada.  

“The theme really means more than just saving the environment,” Buyyanapragada said. “It’s also saving our Bhumi by being united. Regardless of our diverse beliefs and backgrounds, we can all come together and have a good conversation, help bring out the best in each other.”

Unity through diversity is promoted throughout many of the organization’s events and was their theme for the Hindu holiday Holi two years ago, Buyyanapragada said. 

Members kicked off the week Sunday by decorating tote bags for Hope Totes, an organization that provides children in emergency shelters, safe houses and foster care with tote bags full of clothing, toiletry and other necessities. The totes were provided to the organization by the South Asians’ International Volunteer Association, a Central Texas-based nonprofit promoting well-being through community engagement for older adults of South Asian heritage. 

The organization set up informational booths Monday in Gregory Plaza, each focusing on different aspects of Hinduism including the arts, science and how Hinduism exists globally. One booth explained Vedanta, which is the conclusion of Hinduism’s religious texts, and another centered on murti, which is a statue of a deity used in prayer.

 



Other events planned for the week include an interfaith discussion Tuesday and a showcase for traditional dance and music called Milan on Friday.

For several members, the sense of community is what convinced them to become involved in the organization.

“A lot of people who join this org find it to be a family away from home,” biomedical engineering junior Mansi Gattani said. “Out of the many orgs I tried out, this org felt the most welcoming.”

Business freshman Kimberly Ndegwa said she was excited to learn more about Hinduism at the event Monday and thought having Hinduism Awareness Week is important since there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding Hinduism.

“A lot of people know about Christianity and Islam and Judaism, but they don’t really know about Hinduism,” Ndegwa said. “It is important to bring awareness so that people actually know what Hinduism is about and know that it’s more than just a religion.”