Hindus have commended prestigious Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee, USA) for including Wicca/Pagan holy days on its calendar on “religious holy days and observances” for 2011-2012.
Vanderbilt has mentioned Samhain-Beltane, Yule, Ostara Equinox, Mabon, and Beltane-Samhain as Wicca/Pagan holy days on this calendar. It also mentions Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, Taoist and Confucian holy days. Hindu holy days mentioned are Diwali (Deepavali) and Maha Shivaratri.
Welcoming this inclusion and calling it “a step in the right direction”, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that all religions were different ways to relate to the Divine, different responses to the Reality and were a positive sign of God’s generosity.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further stated that a more inclusive understanding of religion was needed and we should learn to live together with mutual loyalty despite our seriously different faiths. He urged world religious leaders to leave behind selfish motives and work together for greater ideals.
Rajan Zed pointed out that awareness about other religions thus created by this calendar would make Vanderbilt students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
A policy manual of Vanderbilt says: “A goal of Vanderbilt University is to foster an open and diverse society where the rights of all members of the community are respected.”
Vanderbilt, an internationally recognized research university founded in 1873 under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, has consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 universities, with several programs and disciplines ranking in the top 10. With total net assets of $4.3 billion and five Nobel Laureates, its 330 acres campus is home to more than 300 tree/shrub varieties and a registered National Historic Landmark. It has about 13,000 students with women outnumbering men, admission selection rate of less than eight percent, over 300 clubs/organizations, over 120,000 living alumni, a library containing over eight million items, and its annual undergraduate tuition is about $39,000. Mark F. Dalton is Chairman of its Board of Trust, while Nicholas S. Zeppos is the Chancellor.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. TheFreeDictionary.com defines Pagan as “An adherent of a polytheistic religion in antiquity…”, while it defines Wicca as “A polytheistic Neo-Pagan nature religion inspired by various pre-Christian western European beliefs…”