Hindu Children Say They Feel Comfortable At New Sunday School

Hindu children now have a place where they can go to learn more about their religion. On Sunday, the Gulf Coast Bal Vikas held its first Sunday school class over in Ocean Springs. The classes teach children about the chants, prayers and gods of the Hindu religion. Before now parents had to teach their children at home.

Some parents say they hope the classes will make their children feel more confident about themselves and their religious beliefs. The children at this Hindu Sunday school say they feel comfortable in a place where they are in the majority because most of the time they are the ones who are different.

"It's kind of lonesome because there isn't very many people. I'm more comfortable here than I am at school," eight-year-old Nisha Nagarajan said.

"I don't think there's anybody in my school that I know of that's Hindu, and it makes me feel really special about it because it's like a privilege being Hindu cause there's so much stuff to learn about it," said 13-year-old Shruthi Bhandru.

Sunday school teachers say Hinduism stresses good values like hard work and honesty. Through activities like yoga, arts and crafts, and music they hope to pass on those values to their children.

"We want to teach our kids the rich culture that we have from India," school organizer Nishi Ambasht said. "They're growing up here, and we want them to have the best of both cultures, teach them about the good things from India and mingle them over here."

Ambasht says if the children aren't taught their culture now they could face difficulties in the future

"As little kids, they do okay. But when they grow up, they don't know where they belong. They know that they're from India but they don't really know much about it to relate to it and they're a little confused," Ambasht said

About two dozen children from all three coastal counties were at the first class. The classes will be held every two weeks.

by Danielle Thomas