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Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life

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Articles

UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice

Published by Aslan Media, Inc. in three parts from September 21 to October 2, 2012

Aminah Galal counted 100 audience members at the presentation on Shariah law. It was a good turnout, and most, she noted, weren’t members of University of California – Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU), which hosted the event.

But as Galal, vice president of the MSU, finished counting, the Q&A turned confrontational. Five of the six who asked questions were from a Christian ministry called Truth Defenders, and to them, true Muslims wouldn’t accept the speaker’s flexible interpretation of Shariah. Continue reading “UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice”

Caste First, Christ Second, for Some Indian Christians

Published by Religion Dispatches, July 9, 2012

John Yesunatha Das describes himself as buffalo color. His dark skin makes him recognizable as a Dalit, or untouchable, in India, and it’s caused the Pentecostal pastor trouble over the years.

His seminary, for instance, didn’t consider him for positions upon graduation, even though, as he says, “I was one of the brilliant students” and would be in leadership right now if it weren’t for his caste. Continue reading “Caste First, Christ Second, for Some Indian Christians”

Cuba’s gay rights revolution

Published by GlobalPost, June 29, 2012

HAVANA, Cuba — Niurka says she is “halfway out of the closet” as a lesbian in Cuban society. She doesn’t talk about her sexuality in public, and she’s thankful nobody asks at work. But with her curly cropped hair and more masculine dress — most notably gym shoes on an island where most women prefer sandals — she says she can’t conceal it. Continue reading “Cuba’s gay rights revolution”

Parents take teaching Hinduism into their own hands

Published by The Washington Post, Huffington Post Religion, Religion News Service, May 25, 2012

Mudita Bahadur
Mudita Bahadur passes Hindu traditions on to her children in her friends’ living room.

Children are usually the primary complainers about Sunday school, but when Mudita Bahadur started looking for excuses not to take her children to the Hindu temple on Sunday, she knew she had to make a change.

“One, it’s dogmatic and two, it’s inconvenient,” she said of the Hindu classes held a 45-minute drive away from her home in Santa Monica, Calif.

Bahadur decided to take her children’s religious education into her own hands. For the past three years, she and other Indian parents have been teaching their children about religion in each other’s living rooms.

The do-it-yourself approach permits them to instill pride and progressive values in a traditional manner, the parents say. …

Read more on WashtingtonPost.com

Unable to work, Indian immigrant women turn to spiritual practices for comfort

Published by The Washington Post, Huff Post Religion & Religion News Service, May 10, 2012

Pooja Sindhwani
Pooja Sindhwani and her husband, Karan Kakar

Even though she met her husband through an arranged marriage, Pooja Sindhwani considers herself a modern woman. She worked in interior design in her native India for four years, and she and her husband spent a year getting to know each other before their wedding. When she followed her husband to Houston, she wasn’t worried about adjusting to life in the United States.

“You feel you’re going to a country that offers opportunities,” Sindhwani said, “you expect that things will work out.”

Except when they don’t.

Unable to land a job in Houston, Sindhwani slipped into depression. Like thousands of Indian women, she was issued an H-4 “dependent spouse” visa that did not allow her to work. …

Read more on WashingtonPost.com

 

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a (Hindu) match

Published by The Washington Post, Huff Post Religion & Religion News Service, April 20, 2012

Hands at Indian wedding
Ram.jet/Flickr

Kamna Mittal and her husband moved to the Bay Area soon after they were married in India in 2000. In addition to being in a new country, the couple were new to each other. Their marriage had been arranged.

“When you go for an arranged marriage,” she said, “it’s a total gamble.”

Now a mother of two, Mittal counts herself lucky that it worked out, but 12 years later, she wants to help Indian-American singles in the Bay Area meet directly.

Turns out even love can use a little help every now and then, and the age-old practice of arranged Hindu marriages is getting a 21st-century makeover. …

Read more on WashingtonPost.com

Tibetan refugees fear India’s crackdown on activism

Originally published on GlobalPost.com RIGHTS blog, March 31, 2012

NEW DELHI — India has hosted the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan followers for 53 years, but new strains between the Tibetan refugees and their hosts became evident this week with the arrest of more than 250 activists ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to New Delhi.

Indian police also placed the entire Tibetan community in Delhi on house arrest, closing down the refugee camp Majnu Ka Tilla following the self-immolation of a 27-year-old Tibetan exile. Continue reading “Tibetan refugees fear India’s crackdown on activism”

The Fire Next Time: Tibetan Protests Spread

Published by Religion Dispatches, March 28, 2012

DELHI—Shibayan Raha had worried that this would happen. At a protest against the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao, a 27-year-old Tibetan exile lit himself on fire and ran past the podium before police and other activists could douse the flames. Continue reading “The Fire Next Time: Tibetan Protests Spread”

Spanish Speakers Learn Hinduism at Hollywood Vedanta Society

Published on NeonTommy.com, February 18, 2011

Vedanta Center ClassThe small group studying the Bhagavad Gita at the Vedanta Society in Hollywood dissected just one four-line verse during their Sunday afternoon course, and much of the discussion centered on one word.

To Antoni Subirats, “clemencia,” as the Sanskrit word was translated into Spanish, implied a formal pardon from a king or a soldier. It was not a quality easy emulated today, in his opinion. The English translation, however, used “forbearance.” He turned to his follow classmates—two Indian Americans, a Mexican American, a Filipino man, and the Argentinean nun running the class—to explain what the English word meant.

“If we stick to the literal meaning of the word, we don’t go forward,” Indrajit Sarkar said, turning the conversation to forgiveness. The Gita is about a battle, he explained, but it can be applied to our spiritual lives as well. “I’m fighting a battle every day in my life.”

Sunday at 11 a.m. is known as the most segregated hour of the week, as races and language groups separate for their own religious services. Sister Jayanti’s bilingual Bhagavad Gita class, however, is a unique experiment in integrating the practice of Hinduism in the United States. The philosophically oriented Vedanta is both a help and a hindrance in that effort, but the Argentinean nun has founded that working across the lingual divide is a spiritual exercise in itself. …

Read more on NeonTommy.com

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