The South Asia Section of the department of Asian studies organized its largest-ever annual Religions Field Trip on Sunday, February 18. This year over 150 students participated as well as several UNC faculty, staff, and community members. Organized in 1996 by Afroz Taj, associate professor of Asian studies, and John Caldwell, teaching assistant professor in Hindu-Urdu, the trip is open to anyone from the broader university community including students from Duke and NC State as well. This event gives participants the opportunity to visit three places of worship in the Triangle area: the Sikh Gurudwara of Durham, the Hindu Bhavan of Morrisville, and the Raleigh Islamic Center. At each site participants have the opportunity to interact with practitioners of the various faiths, observe worship practices, and ask questions.
“Most of our students have never visited a place of worship outside their own tradition,” said Taj. “It’s great to explore how people’s faith guides their way of life, even thousands of miles from India or Pakistan.”
Students sat on the floor to taste the community meal, or langar, at the Gurudwara, watched preparations for a Vedic fire ceremony at the Hindu temple and witnessed one of the five daily prayers at the mosque.
“Although these three religions seem very diverse on the surface, they all operate peacefully side by side in India,” remarked Caldwell. “I think the main take-away is that while everyone’s spiritual path is different, we can learn to celebrate the common human urge to connect with a higher power.”