Hindu Day Camp Transmits Religious Traditions

July 22, 2007

Author: Neela Banerjee

Source: International Herald Tribune


ANNANDALE, Virginia: The first hour at the Chinmaya Mission day camp unfolds as at any other camp. Children shriek through tag, while a few others play Uno.

But by 9 a.m., the grammar-school-age campers are sitting down, their attention focused on a long-haired Indian man in the front of the room, Swami Dheerananda, the mission's Hindu teacher, or acharya. Together, they chant prayers in Sanskrit. Many recite passages they have memorized from the Bhagavad Gita, a holy Hindu text.

Like American Jews before them, Hindu parents, most of whom are recent immigrants to the United States, are turning to well-established institutions like summer camp and weekend school, and to decidedly more contemporary Internet sites, to teach their American-born children ancient religious traditions and help maintain their Indian identity.