Hindu Student Association Spotlight: Club unites members of a global faith

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As many rush to their lockers and head home on Friday afternoons, a new group of students remains to celebrate their traditions and heritage: The Hindu Student Association (HSA).

The club, which held its first meeting in early November, is a place for students to come together to explore, teach, and learn about the various facets of Hindu faith and culture. Each week, co-presidents and seniors Mansha Sadh and Yougeeta Singh lead discussions about Hindu music and holidays, among other topics of interest.

“HSA is important to me because I get to express and educate others about my faith,” explained Mansha. “It makes me enjoy my Friday afternoons, and it’s a great way to relax and get to know other Townsend students.”

Though the club is still new, it attracts between 20 and 30 students each week, and new members come from a variety of cultural backgrounds even within the Hindu community.

“[The club] is our chance to share our knowledge about Hinduism with our classmates,” said Yougeeta. “It’s especially important since we come from so many different places. I think it’s cool because you can have a person from Gujarat who has completely different traditions than a West Indian.”

These opportunities are important to junior Smriti Vaidya, spiritual advisor of the HSA. As such, her role is to help create presentations and plan events to better educate the members of the club.

“I’ve grown up in a Hindu household, and so this club allows me to share my experiences and knowledge about my religion as well as learn from others,” Smriti said.

Senior Sindhu Avuthu, vice president of HSA, was also raised a devout Hindu, going to the temple every week and praying daily. In the new club, she is eager to learn and teach about her faith. “[HSA is] also a place where we can attempt to clear [up] misconceptions about Hinduism and start spreading awareness about what the religion is truly about.”

Sophomore Sarah Gafur thinks this club is a necessary addition to the school, saying that “[Hinduism] is…a new culture and background for students to explore, and that’s always great, opening your eyes to bigger pictures.”

Club advisor and Assistant Principal of Organization, Health, and Physical Education, Ellen Fee said she believes it’s important for students to take initiative by creating organizations such as HSA, as they bring students together as well as promote tolerance, communication, and sensitivity. “I think as a whole, THHS has a larger worldview, and we learn more about the cultures around us,” she said.

Ms. Fee also discussed the security that religious and cultural school organizations offer the student body, saying that “You can learn about different cultures and different religions in a very safe environment. I think this is the best time and place to learn more about the world around us, and how big it is.”

Though the club is still in its early stages, the student officers are already planning future events: they hope to hold programs for students throughout the year, including a Diwali celebration.