Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life



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”

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. …


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. …



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

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. …


Spanish Speakers Learn Hinduism at Hollywood Vedanta Society

Published on, 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. …


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