NEW YORK — A Hindu organization headquarted in Nevada is seeking the inclusion of Hindu prayer rooms at international airports that have chapels available for use by adherents to various religions.
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism in Nevada, released a statement this week explaining that Hindus would like a designated prayer room at locations such as John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
“As a lot of Hindu passengers daily use JFK Airport and many Hindu employees work for various agencies and businesses there, it would be nice if they had a quiet facility at the airport where they could pray/meditate/worship and perform religious services,” he said.
“Prayer/worship to god was highly important in Hinduism—the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents—and it would be great to have a Hindu prayer service or ‘Hindu Prayer Room’ at airports so that Hindu passengers did not miss their daily worship rituals/rites while travelling through, which might include recitation of texts, repetition of mantras and dhayan (meditation),” Zed stated.
He outlined that he would like the prayer room to be complete with Hindu relics and other provisions.
“Hindus would appreciate if this ‘Hindu Prayer Room’ had murtis (statues) of popular deities, copies of sacred scriptures, a traditional bell and recorded devotional music; and once-a-week kirtan and arti session was held in it,” Zed explained.
According to the Queens Times Ledger, Zed has called on the New York Port Authority, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to make the room available at JFK airport. Petitions are also being circulated by local Hindu groups to push for the inclusion.
The Our Lady of the Skies Roman Catholic Chapel, International Islamic Center, International Synagogue and Christ for the World Protestant Chapel are presently offered at the location.
The University Society of Hinduism notes that the Pew Research Center has previously released information regarding the chapels available at U.S. airports to accommodate the world’s various religions.
“Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, meanwhile, has five different interfaith chapels—one in every terminal,” it quoted from the study, and “Washington Dulles International Airport, near Washington, D.C., offers weekly Catholic mass, Protestant worship and Christian prayer services, as well as daily Jewish and Muslim prayer services.”
The group also cited that Boston’s Logan International Airport opened the “Our Lady of the Airways” Roman Catholic chapel approximately 60 years ago.
South Dakota’s Sioux Falls Regional Airport recently opened a yoga room, which Zed and other Hindus applauded as being “a step in the right direction.”
“[Y]oga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical,” the Punjab News Express outlined Zed as explaining.
Similar “meditation rooms” are present at the Albuquerque International Sunport in New Mexico, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, and the Chicago Midway International Airport in Illinois.