By: Alicia Garza
Maitri Patel is a Hindu sophomore from Overland Park.
Q: What values go along with Hinduism?
A: Hinduism mainly influences me on what I eat, because I am a vegetarian. It is a part of my religion to not eat meat. It’s not like everyone does it; there’s always exceptions of people who do it and who don’t do it. We always have festivals that we do celebrate here but it’s not as grand as it would have been in India. Whenever I go to a ceremony, I have to wear traditional outfits.
Q: What different types of traditional outfits are there?
A: There are very different types of clothing. Sari, salwar kameez, ghagra koliz—what older women tend to wear.
Q: What are some of the types of festivals or traditions that you attend that are a part of your religion?
A: I really love Garba—it’s a kind of festival where you dance. In India, it would go nine days long, but here it is during only Saturdays and Sundays, and it will go for two Saturdays and Sundays or something. You wear, it’s kind of like a Sari, but it’s a different type of clothing. You just dance around the god and it’s supposed to bring happiness and prosperity.
Q: What rules and god establish your religion?
A: Hinduism is a very polycystic culture where there’s many gods, there’s not just one. Well, there’s only one god, but there’s different carnations of it, reincarnations—so ultimately there’s only one. Personally, I’m not that religious, but my mom is. Since I live in college I don’t have time to pray morning and night, and I don’t go to church because it’s far away and there’s not that many Hindu temples around. So whenever I do go, I do pray. It just doesn’t affect me like it affects my mom. She keeps a fast every week or so. I can’t stay hungry that long so I can’t do it. I guess it affects my mom more than it does me, cause I’ve been brought up here so I don’t think it’s that important, because I’ve been brought up with Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween. And, yes, we do celebrate Indian festivals—but it’s very low key and there’s many things we can’t do.
Q: What kind of things can’t you do?
A: [For] Diwali we do fireworks, but the fireworks come in September—who does fireworks in September? And they probably don’t even sell fireworks in September. Actually, I don’t think it’s September- I think it’s November, or maybe October? See, I don’t even know when our new year comes. Our new year is earlier—it’s like around November. It’s not in January. During Diwali, you’re supposed to go meet your relatives. My relatives live 12 hours away. There’s no way I’m driving there and then driving back. It’s very low-key.
Q: How does your religion play into your everyday life?
A: It affects me because it affects my food choice, like I’m a vegetarian. I don’t like showing skin so much—it’s not in our culture to wear shorts. Well, people do it now, and I do in the summer, but not too often, and not too much skin, either. And I do have a picture of my god in my room. Which, I say hello, and I don’t pray like I should. And I do have a picture of it in my car, so whenever I leave I always see it—but that doesn’t mean I always say something to it.
Q: What do you want the University to know about your religion?
A: My religion is very colorful, I would say. I wish there was a Hindu temple on campus, so that all the Indian community or the Hindu community could at least meet and make it bigger than it is now—it’s very low-key right now. It would just bring everyone closer together. Right now I don’t think many people know what Hinduism is. Sometimes people say “Oh, you’re a vegetarian, why? Why does your god say that?” Well, it’s not like I have to do it; it’s my personal choice from then on.
— Edited by Logan Schlossberg