Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, and more than 1 million Americans practice its beliefs, according to 2011 data from Harvard University's Pluralism Project. Using activities designed for children can help teach them about Hinduism and diversity in our country and in our world.
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Mehendi is the art of applying henna to the hands and feet, and is worn as a body decoration for special occasions. Henna is a natural dye made from a small shrub found in the Middle East that is ground up into a fine powder. The powder is mixed with water and packed into a tube similar to a cake decorating bag; a very small hole is cut in the tip of the bag for application. Mehendi is not toxic, and eventually fades within two to three weeks.
Most Hindus believe that a sound mind and body go hand in hand, and yoga has been a method of exercise practised by Hindus for centuries. Most Hindus practice Raja, Karma, Jnana or Bhakti yoga, which focus more on meditation than on physical exercise. However, using a more Western version of yoga, such as Hatha yoga, can still benefit children and teach them about a healthy body as well as Hindu beliefs.
Kho Kho is a game of tag played by many Hindus and is traced to India. Eight members of one team line up down the centre of rectangular area; each one faces an alternating direction. The ninth member of the team must try to tag one member of the opposing team, known as the dodger, without crossing the centre line. If the dodger crosses the centre line, the chaser tags a teammate in the centre and shouts "Kho!" and takes this teammate's place as the tagged person continues the chase. A team wins by tagging all of the opposing team's members as fast as possible.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America offers several Hindu camps for children in several locations around the United States. Campers can participate in Hindu-related activities such as Mehendi, yoga, Kho Kho and learning Hindu philosophy, as well as enjoy the traditional camp activities.
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- The Pluralism Project at Harvard University: Statistics by Religion
- ReligiousTolerance.org: Hinduism -- The World's Third Largest Religion
- Puga.com: What is Mehndi?
- Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America: Summer Is Coming! 2011 Camps
- Chak De Albany; Kho Kho Game Tournament; June 2011
- Yogamiracles.com: Yoga and Hindu Philosophy -- Is There a Connection?