TRYING OUT CHURCH IN OHIO

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I was born and brought up in India as a Hindu, and even though my family isn’t very religious, I learned a lot about Hinduism from my grandma whenever I visited her. I used to be very excited for every visit to her house because she would make me sheera (a flour-based dessert with clarified butter and sugar) and tell me stories about the different gods that Indians believe in. She would even sometimes teach me religious songs.

It was always interesting to learn more about Hindu beliefs, since my parents never told me much about it. Due to the fact that I didn’t know much about my culture, it made me curious about what people believed in.

I also grew up watching a lot of American TV shows and movies, so when I first came to America for college (at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio), I was very curious as to what cultural beliefs were like here. I had visited this country a couple of times when I was younger, but I didn’t care about religion then — I was more interested in meeting the princesses at Disney.

So a week before Easter, I made my decision to go to church on Easter Sunday. But there were so many churches; I didn’t know where to go.

“Laura, are there more than one type of Christians?” I asked my roommate, Laura Fitzgerald.

She chuckled and told me about the different denominations of Christianity. Since Laura grew up in a Presbyterian church, I decided to go to that church.

I got back to Oxford on Saturday night after spring break, and I realized that the next day was Easter. I was supposed to go to church.

“CRAP, WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?” 

The first thought I had is “Crap, what am I going to wear?” I had heard from my friends that Easter is fancier than normal Sundays, but I didn’t know what that meant. I unpacked my laptop and Googled “what to wear to church on Easter Sunday” and “important things to know on Easter.”

I woke up the next morning feeling nervous. This was the first time I was going to a Sunday mass, and I was going to be all by myself. I didn’t want to do or say anything that would offend anyone. I pulled out my phone and put the address in for the church and made my way there.

There were two things I noticed right away: First, I was the only person of color there. Second, most of the people were old.

The church was lit by the sunlight filtering through the stained-glass windows, which made the grandeur of the building seem more magnificent.

I WAS THE ONLY PERSON OF COLOR THERE

While I was looking around at the beauty of this church, I had failed to notice a warm and familiar face who came to greet me.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Pastor Hart Edmonds said.

I had spoken to him before about coming to Easter service; it was nice to know that he remembered me. It made me feel welcome in a place so foreign to me.

While people were singing hymns, I sometimes got lost on what page they were on, but a quick glance to the person sitting beside me fixed that. The hymns that my grandma used to sing were faster and seemed more cheerful.

It was wonderful to see people come together and celebrate this day. Nobody knew me, but a lot of people came up to wish me a “Happy Easter.”

Even though Hinduism and Christianity are two very different religions and pray to different gods — Hinduism having hundreds of them — I feel what they teach is very similar: to love God and to love others. Religions are just a way to impart the same message of love across borders, though there are a few individuals who use religion to spread hate.

My experience going to church was memorable. I felt accepted there. Going to church reminded me of the few times that my grandma had taken me to visit the temple near her house. I used to sit there quietly and take in the beauty and just watch people connect over their love and common beliefs. Easter reminded me of that.

By SOUMYA TRIVEDI 

(Soumya Trivedi is a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.)

Excerpted from The Miami Student Magazine

 

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