Last Look

Study, pray, commune

A Hindu worship service in Dwight Chapel.

 Bob Handelman

Bob Handelman

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“Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, speech, music, and the creative arts,” Asha Shipman explained after a service in Dwight Chapel in late January. “It’s very, very common for students to worship Saraswati whenever they have something important in their studies coming up. We like to set the semesters off well with a puja”—a traditional Hindu worship service.

As the Director of Hindu Life, Shipman works with the Yale University chaplain’s office. She says that eventually, about 75 students attended the puja. (Many were late due to schedule conflicts.) Dwight Chapel, built in 1842, was originally a library; it became a chapel in 1932, after its books were removed to Sterling. Today, the chapel hosts a myriad of religious services and musical performances.

Shipman notes that the number of students attending Hindu services on campus has tripled in the wake of the pandemic. “Students were so lonely during the pandemic, so disconnected, and this helps them feel like they belong,” she says.
“They do belong.”

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