Teen educates community on Hinduism by building library at local temple

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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Survani Sinha created a library at a local temple to educate Hindus more about their religion. PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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Survani Sinha created a library at a local temple to educate Hindus more about their religion. PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JYOTSNA SINHA

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Survani Sinha searched for a cause that was close to her heart, something that represented her and her religion.

So for her Girl Scout Silver Award project, she decide to educate the Hindus in her community on the intricacies of their religion.

“I believe religion is a foundation for one’s principles and beliefs. It provides you with a
community which shares similar principles and beliefs. Through your community, you achieve a sense of belonging. And, a sense of belonging is essential to your emotional and spiritual well-being. Connecting with and knowing about your religion can also help you find peace, faith, hope, and increase your confidence in your identity,” Survani said.

The 13-year-old said she “paused and considered” the root cause.

“I realized that there are many root causes that I can’t do much about, but there is one I
can address. That is the lack of resources available to learn from. I began to brainstorm ways I can bring easily accessible resources to my community.

“I came up with many ideas, and picked the one that I thought is the most realistic. My
idea was to set up a library at a nearby temple. In the library, I envisioned a shelf, with books on Hinduism inside of it. Following through with this idea would allow books and magazines to be available to all who came to the temple. I knew this idea was the one I had to implement.

“And so, with hope, I contacted a board member of a local temple via email, and then
spoke to him about my project. We agreed to meet in person to further discuss this subject. Fortunately, he approved my plan, and now I could finally bring the project I envisioned to life,” she said.

Her first step was to find a bookcase, which she ordered and shipped to the temple.

Concurrently, she started fundraising for the content inside the bookcase: primarily
the books. She created a flier that, in a short and memorable way, properly advertised what her project was about.

“Over time, I collected more than 60 books, and raised $301. I am very thankful for people’s generosity, and proud of the donations I received,” the seventh grader at Crossroads Middle School South said.

In early December, she and her family visited the temple and assembled the bookcase.

“It was exhausting, but paid off at the end when we were looking at a well built bookshelf.

“As book donations were coming in, my family and I made sure that they were appropriate for the library. Books that do not educate on Hinduism or are in poor condition don’t
need to be in the library, as they will not serve the purpose that we need them for. This ensures good quality books for readers.

“Also, I made sure to have books in both English, and the native language Hindi so that people who are not confident reading in English can benefit from the library. Using the money donated, I bought many books including the Amar Chitra Katha Mythology Collection and translations of the Bhagavad Gita,” she said.

Recently, Survani went to the temple to drop off books, and said she is proud of how far this project has come.

“It is my belief and sincere hope that this Hinduism library serves the purpose it was meant for – which is to increase knowledge about Hinduism. More than serving my community, this project has helped me grow as a person. My writing skills have improved through the numerous emails and project updates I have had to write. Giving presentations on Hinduism has increased my knowledge about my religion. In addition, I am now able to confidently converse with and persuade people of authority and people who may have been strangers to me at first.”

Survani is a Juliette Cadette, which means she is working independently and not as part of a troop. She is, however, part of SU824, the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey.

She is offering workshops that cover a brief overview of Hinduism and her Silver Award
story. To sign up for the workshops or to make a donation to the library, email Survani at hinduismlibrary7@gmail.com.

“[This] has reinforced to me that it is every citizen’s duty to do their best to better
their community. Through this project, I have started understanding the joy one gets in serving their community,” she said.

  • This story was submitted by Survani Sinha.