Hindu Heritage Month
October was Hindu Heritage Month.
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWPOINTS ON EVERYDAY NEWS
Did you know October is Hindu Heritage Month? I didn’t, at least until I was part of a panel on hate and harmony at the annual meeting of American and Canadian children and adolescents in Toronto. At the end of the meeting, I saw a full page, color notice in the Toronto newspaper about “Light up Toronto with Canada Diwali Fireworks” on October 20th.
Diwali is one of many religious festivals of lights, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world. It coincides with the harvest and emphasizes new beginnings as well as the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
Hindu Heritage Month was launched in 2021. Its aim was to highlight Hindu heritage to the world through various educational processes. Some suggested values to emphasize are inclusiveness, knowledge, family, non-violence and charity.
Globally, Hinduism is the third largest religion with approximately 15% of the world’s population and over one billion adherents. In India and Nepal, it is the vast majority. It is quite heterogeneous with many schools of thought and practices. It can be considered monotheistic, but with aspects of polytheism.
In the United States, Hindus, mainly of Indian origin, represent about 1% of the population and the fourth largest religion after Christianity, Judaism and Islam. They are generally well-educated, of higher socio-economic status, and often work in the fields of technology or medicine. Skin tones vary greatly. It is unclear if they are still considered part of collective Asian American communities.
In the volume Antisemitism and psychiatrythe chapter on “Anti-Semitism from a Hindu Psychiatric Point of View” convincingly demonstrated that there never was anti-Semitism among Hindus, perhaps the only enduring historical example of such tolerance , respect and value of the Jewish people.1 Like American Hindus, American Jews are sometimes considered a minority group in America, and sometimes not.
In the 3 volumes of the trilogy on psychiatry and the 3 largest religions in the United States, the editors and authors of the chapters have worried both about the negative intolerance and fears of Muslims and Jews, but also positive mental health impacts of religious and community support. .1-3 We need a fourth volume on psychiatry and Hinduism and the other so-called Eastern religions.
For clinicians, it is essential to obtain a solid history of the patient’s religions and spiritual beliefs as they influence well-being, attitude toward psychiatric care, and therapeutic alliance. In society, inclusiveness and unity require knowledge of important religious festivals and heritages. Consider this column a belated acknowledgment of Hindu Heritage Month.
Doctor Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specializes in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the unique designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout professional, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. for a better world. He sits on the editorial board of Psychiatric Times™.
1. Moffic HS, Peteet JR, Hankir A, Seeman MV. Antisemitism and psychiatry. Springers; 2020.
2. Moffic HS, Peteet JR, Hankir A, Awaad R. Islamophobia and psychiatry. Springers; 2019.
3. Peteet J, Moffic HS, Hankir A, Koenig HG. Christianity and psychiatry. Springers; 2021.