A world-wide advocate for Hinduism will offer a Hindu prayer for the first time as an invocation to a Provo City Council on September 18 to broaden the understanding of Hinduism in Provo.
Rajan Zed, The President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, will be the one to offer the invocation at the September 18
City Council Meeting at 5:30.
When asked why he chose Provo to give an invocation at, he mentioned he was already planning on meeting with BYU, but he also felt this would give a broader view of religion to the people of Provo.
“Religion includes much more than one’s own personal experience or tradition,” Zed continued, “a broader and more inclusive understanding of religion is needed. We have much more in common than in conflict.”
Professor Jared Ludlow, world religions professor at BYU, explained similarities and differences between Hinduism and the LDS Church. “In some ways it isn’t like Christianity and Islam…that you can point to a historic figure at a in a historical time period and say: this religion developed from here,” Ludlow said.
When describing the difference in prayer, Ludlow explained that different Hindu followers have various kinds of worship. He mentioned that “there is a form of Hindu worship called bahkti, where you kind of have a favorite god, so to speak and you worship that god. There can be rituals, prayers, offerings – these kinds of things.”
“Devotees of a particular god will participate in the festivals for that god,” Ludlow continued, “they will go to temples dedicated to that god. At their homes, they will have shrines dedicated to that god. And it’s not necessarily that they will only do that one god, but they kind of pick that one above others.”
Zed explained this difference even further as he described the Hindu belief in a higher power. “Many Hindus believe in one supreme being, whom they call Brahman, but they worship one god in various forms, according to different functions they believe He/She performs,” Zed said. “Hindus believe that God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal—always present everywhere and in all living things. Hindus consider God as the creator, sustainer and redeemer and to whom they address their petitions and prayers”
Although different words than the traditional LDS invocation will be said in the Hindu prayer, the words still encourage the well being of Provo. Zed plans to give these words in the ancient language of Sanskrit: “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya,” which translates to “Lead me from the unreal to the Real, Lead me from darkness to Light, and Lead me from death to Immortality.” With these words, he hopes to urge city officials to always keep the welfare of the people in mind.
By volunteering to give this prayer, Zed is also fulfilling the goals of his organization, the Universal Society of Hinduism.
“The Universal Society of Hinduism seeks to advance awareness of Hinduism philosophy and values, provide a global Hindu platform and promote interreligious cooperation.” Zed said.
Luke Pritchett, a BYU student studying physics who served a mission in India and lived there for a few years growing up, is also happy to hear that Provo can have this in-depth Hindu experience. Pritchett discussed the more hidden parts of Indian culture in the Utah area, including a Hindu temple in South Jordan and even an Indian grocery store on University in Provo.
“I think it’s good that there is an Indian and Hindu society in this area, and I think it’s good that it’s being recognized,” Pritchett said.