South Asian Religions Offer Different Responses to Tsunami Disaster

January 2, 2005

Source: The Dallas Morning News

On January 2, 2005 The Dallas Morning News reported, " Members of the DFW Hindu Temple held a deepa puja Sunday morning. The 'prayer of light,' honoring victims of last Sunday's earthquake and tsunamis, felt something like a candlelight vigil in any church or synagogue. But the Hindu religious response to massive human tragedy is essentially different. The flower-draped altar and oil candles surrounded by elaborate statues of Indian deities were clearly not part of a Christian or Jewish service. And differences in how the faiths try to explain unimaginable suffering are more than just ritual. Most of the victims of the disaster in South Asia follow faith traditions unfamiliar to most Americans: Hindus in India, Muslims in Indonesia and Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Following catastrophe, the American religious mainstream generally offers a broadly uniform message of comfort: Trust in the loving and just God. He has a meaningful plan for life... But the religious leaders for most of this disaster's victims deliver very different messages."