Over this past thanksgiving holiday, a momentous event took place half ay around the world in Indonesia. A 'World Hindu Youth Summit' www.worldhinduyouth.com) was held from Nov. 26th through Nov. 30th in he Hindu Island of Bali, commonly known as the 'Island of Gods.' The ummit was a gathering of Hindu youth around the globe to discuss critical and timely issues affecting Hindu
Dharma. Moreover, it gave Hindu youth the opportunity to forge friendships and bridge Hindu cultural understanding through interaction.
This event provided participants of different backgrounds and orientations with a common ground to exchange ideas and interact on specific issues affecting the global community. In spirit and numbers, Hindu youth from around the world were able to create a dynamic atmosphere of Hindu 'unity in diversity.' A large number of delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, India and United States participated in this vibrant cultural immersion.
The summit was a blend of international seminars and spiritual yatras to the temples of Bali. Monika Goel and Darshan Soni, U.S. Delegates representing Hindu Students Council International (HSC: www.hscnet.org), were fascinated by the Balinese Hindu culture and ways of worship. All participants had the opportunity to listen to a variety of international speakers on various topics that included: Challenges for Hindu Youth in the 21st Century, Position of Women in Hinduism, and Dharma, Religion and Social Action.
Throughout the presentations, delegates had ample opportunity to discuss their thoughts with the group. Erika Paskarani, a Balinese delegate, stated that 'the Summit truly inspired her to dedicate more time to studying the Bhagavad-Gita in particular.' Each evening, the delegates immersed themselves in Balinese Hindu culture by visiting ancient and well-known temples throughout the island. During the temple visits, participants joined the Bali Hindus in their worship, which the delegates found to be very reverential and unique. Darshan Soni, an HSC delegate, felt that 'the architecture of Balinese temples was very unique and seemed blend Indian and Balinese forms of Hinduism.'
The conference gave Hindu youth a forum upon which they could share and discuss issues affecting them in their home countries. In particular, Indonesian delegates shared their experiences about problems facing Hindu Dharma in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. International delegates learned that in the Indonesian island of Java, Hindus are not allowed to perform worship in some of the most ancient temples because the sites have been converted into National Monuments and tourist attractions.
One of the strongest resolutions passed at the Summit was to increase 'spiritual tourism' in Bali in order to stop the commercialization of temples and highlight the importance of temples as places of worship. To support this effort, HSC International intends work with other like-minded organizations to organize Bali Mahayatras in the near future. Furthermore, as a part of the ongoing effort to preserve Hindu Culture in Bali, a Gurukulam (Hindu Educational Institution) is currently being constructed on 12 hectors land due to be completed in 2008.
Indonesia, a country composed of land from 2 continents and 17,000 islands, has a total population of approximately 20 million Hindus. Within Indonesia, and even the world as a whole, Bali is the only
island with a population (of approximately 3 million people) that is predominantly Hindu. Monika Goel, an HSC delegate, was 'impressed that the Balinese express their Hindu heritage so proudly' and have created massive structures of Arjuna, Krishna and Bhim all over the capital city. Indeed, the artistry and piety of the Balinese is recognized throughout the world.
Balinese Hinduism can perhaps be described as a complex fusion of Indian cosmology, Tantric Buddhism and homegrown mythology, and is deeply woven into the fabric of their daily lives.
At the end of the four day World Hindu Youth Summit, delegates returned to their homes feeling more inspired to continue learning about Hinduism and current issues affecting it. In our rapidly evolving global environment, Hindu youth are joining hands to spread the knowledge of Hindu Dharma amongst youth for a more sustainable world.
Division of Public Relations
Hindu Students Council