Designated “Hindu Prayer Room” sought at University of Adelaide

Hindus are urging for a permanent and dedicated Prayer Room at University of Adelaide (UoA), which claims to be a “truly global institution”.

UoA already has a Chapel (with altar and font) and Islamic prayer rooms; besides Anglican, Baptist and Lutheran chaplains. UoA is not shy in admitting: “While our current chaplaincy team are all representatives of Christian traditions, our university community is very diverse.”

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that UoA should respond to the requirements of Hindu students to provide designated prayer-meditation hall for rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise; which would help in their personal growth.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Hindu Prayer Room would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at UoA, as it was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students.

Rajan Zed suggested that the Hindu Prayer Room preferably should have a shrine containing murtis (statues) of popular Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Durga, Venkateshwara, Ganesha, Murugan, Saraswati, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Kali, etc.; besides being equipped with ghanta (big metallic bell hanging from the ceiling), dholak (two-headed hand-drum), Shiva-linga, etc.

Zed urged UoA Chancellor Catherine Branson and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Peter Høj to seriously look into this issue of unfair treatment and disparity. A public and taxpayer funded institution like UoA, which claimed to stand “tall among the world’s leading institutions of learning and innovation”, should not be in the business of discriminating among various religions and belittling entire communities; Zed noted.

UoA, which labeled itself as “21st century university” and claimed to consistently rank “in the top 1% of the world’s universities”, should be more receptive to the needs of its diverse student body and staff, Rajan Zed indicated.

Zed further said that Hinduism was oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and it should not be taken frivolously. All faiths, larger or smaller, should be duly respected.

Rajan Zed also urged all Australian higher education institutions, both public and private, to respond to the needs of their considerable Hindu student bodies and offer prayer facility. Educational institutions needed to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism, Zed added.

Public research university UoA, founded in 1874 and which boasts of five Nobel Laureates among its alumni, has a student body of over 27,000 from over 90 countries. It has four campuses, and emphasizes: “We are recognised globally as a leading research university”.

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