‘Hinduism is more than faith’

| Michaela Nesvarova

The UT hosts a diverse community of students and employees of various backgrounds. With Christmas fast approaching, we have talked to several people from the UT about their faith and how they experience this festive period. Today: Soundarya Sitaram, UT student originally from India.


Who: Soundaraya Sitaram

Position: Master’s student of Biomedical Engineering

Faith: Hindu (Brahman)


‘I’m a Brahman Hindu. For me personally, Hinduism is a way of life, rather than just a religion. In my opinion, it was meant to bring discipline into society. It is more than faith, it provides rules you should follow.’

Hindu festivals

‘I was born a Hindu. My parents and family practice Hinduism. We have always gone to temples and kept up all the traditions typical for our region and religion. There are many Hindu festivals – such as Diwali, Holi or Navaratri -, most of them focused on remembering gods and goddesses, celebrating that good defeats evil. However, India is very big and each region celebrates the festivals a bit differently.’

‘I really like to celebrate my Hindu festivals. It is something you grow up with, something you do with your family - it is a tradition close to my heart. I would like to teach my children about our festivals, but I would never force the faith on them, because I wasn’t forced into it either. And if I marry someone who isn’t a Brahman, we can celebrate his festivals also.’

Ganesha

‘I believe in heaven and hell. I also believe in karma, meaning that bad deeds will come back to you in this life, but I personally don’t believe in reincarnation. I worship Hindu gods and goddesses. My favorite one is the elephant god Ganesha. For me he is a welcoming god that brings happiness and strength. He is a well-wisher, someone who is always by my side. I have a small idol of him at home and I say a short prayer every morning before work. Here in the Netherlands, I don’t go to a temple very often, because they are all far away, but in India I used to go to a temple every other week.’

‘I don’t consider myself a deeply religious person, so I don’t have any big daily rituals related to my faith. However, I do not eat any meat because of my faith. I’ve always been a vegetarian as Brahmans are supposed to be and I have never thought about changing that.’

‘Christmas reminds me of Hindu festivals’

‘Christmas is something new for me. I don’t celebrate it, but I think the Christmas period is very cute and sweet and fun for kids. I also celebrated Sinterklaas for the first time this week and the festivities reminded me of our own festivals. If you think about it, the traditions are not that different – everyone celebrates the triumph of good over evil.’