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Hinduism follows an ancient path to truth
Editor’s note: Following is the next in a series on the Inter-Faith Bridging Project, launched last fall by Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society.
The world’s oldest faith thrives in the hearts of its adherents far from its homeland.
“Hinduism is not so much a religion as a way of life and culture. We communicate with the creator through prayer, learn our values and respect all religions. Where there is no temple, that doesn’t matter, we are still Hindu. We have prayer in our home and remember and practise what we have learned,” said Sarita Trikala.
She grew up in New Delhi speaking Hindi and Engish and got her university degree in political science and music — her instrument is the sitar. The temple and its festivals were the centre of community and family life with the children looking forward to Diwali, the festival of lights in late fall. It was a time of special prayers, when people got new clothes, exchanged gifts, visited with family and friends and had special sweets and fireworks.
Throughout the year, people go to temple as often as they feel like it. The leaders in the temples preside over ceremonies, rituals and special festivals. There are also teachers who help people study the sacred texts. There is a Hindu temple in Vancouver.
“Some people went to temple every day. You would go when you were sad, or when you were happy, or when you wanted to thank God. We always had prayers in our home,” said Trikala.
She and her husband, Kumar, who was trained as an accountant, moved to Canada in 1975 to join her brother, Ruby Sharma, and other family members in Prince George. There were few other Hindu families but they brought up their children in their faith.
“We still have prayers every morning. It centres us and prepares us for the day,” said Trikala. She has a small carved shrine in one room of her home as a focus for prayer but sometimes will close her eyes for a few moments during the day and think about her faith and pray.
Hinduism Dharma has been called the cradle of spirituality because it embraces and honours all religions. The main themes of Hinduism are unity and harmony. There is no one holy book but a number of books for philosophy and instruction. The oldest text is the Rig Veda, which is 7,000 years old. Hindus believe in one supreme being with other spiritual beings who help humans through life. Dharma is the mode of ethical conduct for an individual that is most conducive to spiritual advancement. Reincarnation is the belief that the soul is immortal and inhabits many physical bodies through a path of spiritual evolution that leads to freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth which is called self-realization of Moksha.
Since each individual is considered to be at a different point in the spiritual journey, Hinduism does not set out specific rules, but tradition, including what to wear, is important to most Hindus.
“The saree is our national dress and many women wear it. My mother always wore a saree. Now I wear it more for special occasions,” said Trikala, who is recently retired from working in women’s retail clothing.
“The Hindu religion has a long history of accepting anyone and everyone who is on a path toward eternal truth. Hinduism does not discriminate against any sincere seeker. OM represents the absolute unity of all existence. Indians are noted for their humanness and calm nature without any harshness in their principles or ideals.”
Trikala and her family also keep in touch with their faith through radio and television programs, visiting the temple in Vancouver and with magazines and the internet. Hinduism Today, a magazine written in English for Hindus around the world, is a look at the faith in the modern world. A recent issue has articles including the opening of Akshardham Delhi, a grand new temple in India; how Hindu communities in India and around the world are doing; to how to deal with the common stresses of life in personal situations and in the community; how to get children to eat well and take more exercise;and the importance of home worship, known as puja.
Trikala is a member of the Inter-Faith Bridging project, sponsored by the Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society with funding by EmbraceBC, Ministry of Multiculturalism. The goal is to provide a way for people of all faiths in the community to get to know each other and their faiths and cultures.
“I am so happy that there is something like this. We must always respect each other’s spirituality. As we are more spiritual, we are better individuals and we can better teach our children,” she said. “We must all pray for strength and wisdom and to know how to do good to each other.
“In our belief of Karma, according as one acts, so does he become.”