Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hindu woman priest in White House's advisory council

Hindu woman priest in White House's advisory council

Thu, Aug 13 06:11 PM

Rewari (Haryana), Aug 13 (PTI) Appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of a faith-based advisory council of the White House, Anju Bhargava, a banker and a Hindu priest, hopes to remove the ignorance about Hinduism and spread the "real meaning" of the rituals associated with the religion. 42-year-old Anju Bhargava, president of the Asian Indian Women in America (AIWA), is the second Indian American appointed to the council which is part of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and includes religious, secular leaders and scholars from different backgrounds as its members.

A graduate of Stella Maris College, Madras University, Bhargava, who was born and brought up in Chennai, says, "Most people do not understand Hinduism or the ritual process. I have a computer presentation to explain the context, the meaning of the symbols and why we do the puja.

It is not just a traditional recitation. "I would say, actually, for me, doing pujas took 25 years of preparation.

Most people go from ritual to philosophy. I have gone from philosophy to ritual", Bhargava, possibly the only Indian American women priest in the United States, told PTI in an e-mail.

She stressed on the need "to bridge the gap between philosophy and rituals". "Only then will the rituals be meaningful and not just something we are doing because someone is telling us to do them and in a language we don''t understand," Bhargava, whose mother Sarla Bhargava hailed from Rewari and who herself shared a "deep-rooted" connection with the district, said.

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