Contrasting the linear “In the Beginning” Judeo-Christian Creation story, Hinduism teaches not one narrative of the birth of the world but separate stories of how mountains, seas, the celestial bodies and other elements of nature were created in connection with the religion’s different manifestations of the one God, Brahman.
Juhi Parekh, a high school senior at Bloomfield Hills High School and president of her school’s environmental club, will be the youngest panelist at the IFLC event “Creation Stories and the Environment” 3-6 p.m. November 12 at Temple Beth El, Bloomfield Hills. Other area clergy will offer Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives.
A storyteller by nature, Parekh has scooped up numerous awards in public speaking in high school forensics competitions. Parekh will share stories from her religion and explain how her faith has placed her on the path of living a more sustainable life and have even motivated her interest in becoming a wildlife biologist.
“Hindus believe God is in everything and there was no one starting point in the creation of the world,” said Parekh, who encourages her classmates to recycle, helped her school raise money to preserve the Great Barrier Reef, and only drives her car to school once a week – the rest of the time she gets rides from her dad. “Our concept of Creation is not one story but many stories of how our deities came into being.”
A vegetarian, Parekh has always had a love and appreciation for animals, and this she says stems from her religious teachings of reverence for all creatures. She shares this love with her father, Deepak Hindu, who is a religious educator at their temple and together they enjoyed taking trips to the Detroit Zoo and watching nature programs on television.
Parekh will explain the deep connection Hindus have for caring for the environment. The values of her faith have even shaped a career path for her, as she is hoping to pursue a degree in wildlife biology at Michigan State University.
“From my childhood, I loved learning stories about Ganesha, who represents wisdom, who has the head of an elephant, Hauman who has the head of a monkey, and Krishna, the cow herder. A big part of my religion is that God is in everything, from the largest mountains and the smallest creatures, including insects. Therefore, no matter how small the creature, we must treat them with great respect.”
The second part in the series will take place 1:45 to 4 at the Detroit Institute of Arts where participants will be treated to a free docent led tour of the museum’s pieces that examine the natural world and the human place within the world from African, Islamic, European and American traditions. (Please gather at: Prentis Court)
It is not necessary to attend both programs, but advance registration is appreciated.
For the November 12 event, call 313.338.9777 X 0 or https://iflc.wufoo.com/forms/q1tp6lhj1ji9em4/
Cost: $10.00 per person – payable at the door
For the December 3 event, Register before November 30th by calling 313.338.9777 or go to https://iflc.wufoo.com/forms/q19glyg1eff13b/