Full name: Prachi Makkar
Major: Finance, Marketing, Information Technology
Hometown: Springfield, NJ
Campus Activities: Member of the Buccino Center for Leadership Development, EBoard Member for Women’s Leadership, Blue Crew, member of Piratethon, Marketing Club, SASA, Finance Club
Although Seton Hall University is a Catholic Institution, Prachi Makkar, a Hindu and Sikh student, has never felt uncomfortable or out of place. With the Hindu Diwali festival coming up, Makkar will celebrate at home with her family and friends.
Her Campus (HC): How does it feel being a Hindu student on a Catholic campus?
Prachi Makkar (PM): Seton Hall is a Catholic school and as a Hindu student, I have been able to learn so much about the Catholic faith and important philosophers during my time here. I have never felt like I don’t belong, or that I am being forced to adopt a new religion. It actually is a great experience to be of a different faith on a Catholic campus because you get to learn new things and teach others about your faith and culture.
HC: Can you explain what the Diwali festival is?
PM: Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights and marks the start of the New Year. Hindus interpret Diwali in different ways based on their background and where they live. But, no matter the interpretation, it symbolizes the victory of good over evil and is a time of happiness and celebration. I am North Indian and for me it is the day when our God, Sri Rama, returned to Ayodhya after 14 years. Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana, were banished into the forest by his step-mother Kaikeyi, who wanted her son Bharat to become the King of Ayodhya. They leave and in the forest, they face Ravana, a demon who kidnaps Sita. Rama saves Sita and the people from Ravana. People in Ayodhya lit diyas, lamps, to welcome back the rightful heir of the throne and to celebrate the death of Ravana.
HC: How will you celebrate the Diwali festival?
PM: Diwali is my favorite holiday! I celebrate with my friends and family at my home. We decorate our entire home with diyas and Christmas lights. We also make beautiful rangoli with powders and lentils to welcome our God. Everyone dresses up in new clothes and eats delicious Indian food and sweets. My cousins come over and we decorate diyas, make colorful rangoli, and have mendhi, henna, for all of the girls. We also celebrate with firecrackers and small fireworks. We also go to our mandir, temple, to pray and light diyas.
HC: What’s your favorite part about Seton Hall?
PM: Seton Hall is an amazing school. I love it not only for their great academic programs, but the opportunities that they offer their students. From internships to fun events to clubs, Seton Hall has something for everyone. It is a small school and makes it really feel like home. I also met some of my best friends here! The Leadership Program has also provided me with a family and constant support system.
HC: What’s your best advice for students who go to a Catholic school, but aren’t Catholic?
PM: It’s really important to have an open mind and be accepting of other religions. Get to learn about Catholicism and experience the faith and culture. At the same time, teach your peers about who you are and your culture. It’s important to experience new things and you should embrace these opportunities. I always invite all of my friends to Indian events at my house so they can learn more about my culture and have some delicious Indian food.
HC: How do students of other faiths practice their religion on a Catholic campus?
PM: Seton Hall has Campus Ministry and DOVE that help students of other faiths find places of worship that are nearby for them. I know many students are able to practice in their dorm rooms or with other people of their faith.
HC: Did the fact that Seton Hall was a Catholic school factor into your decision to come here?
PM: No, I fell in love with Seton Hall because of their great business program, small classes, and overall great atmosphere. I was a little apprehensive at first but, I spoke to current students at that time and they told me about how we take classes where we not only read material related to Catholicism but, about great philosophers and readings from other religions. I also learned that going to Mass is not mandatory and Seton Hall doesn’t throw religion in your face.
HC: How do your beliefs conflict with course teachings?
PM: My beliefs do not conflict with course teachings. I understand that each religion is different and we all have different perspectives.
HC: Was there ever a time when you felt uncomfortable because you weren’t Catholic? If so, can you elaborate?
PM: I think Seton Hall does a great job of exposing everyone to Catholicism without forcing you to get involved. I have never felt uncomfortable or out of place because of my religion.
HC: Are there any clubs you’re involved in on-campus for your religion?
PM: I am a member of the South Asian Students Association which has South Asian students of all religions- Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and others. They put on great events for the major holidays!