Hindus from Guyana make religious offerings at Jamaica Bay in Queens
Guyanese Hindus use Jamaica Bay to follow their religion and cause disapproval of some community members.
About the video:
Richard Prasad knelt bare-footed in the gray sand on the beach of Jamaica Bay. It was a Sunday morning. Prasad, 46, and his friend had been trying to light two candles that were sitting in two small clay bowls. His friend managed to light a match. Both held their hands over the bowls, until finally, the flame lit up.
Prasad is a part of the Guyanese-Hindu community of Queens, which uses the bay as place for worship. The water of the bay is seen as a form of god, to which the people offer food, flowers and sometimes cloths. The offerings shall be washed away to the Atlantic Ocean, that is connected to the Indian river Ganges through the Pacific and Indian Ocean. But because of the tide in New York harbor, the offerings end up on the shore again. In the past few years, the National Park Service and some environmental watchdog groups have raised concerns about the protection of Jamaica Bay’s environment.
“The problem is that many of the things that Hindus leave are not bio-degradable,” said Dan Riepe, who calls himself the Jamaica Bay Guardian. Riepe is part of the Jamaica Bay Research and Management Information Network, an environmental watchdog group that patrols the bay regularly.
Prasad said he comes to the bay often and collects the paper plates from the water every time he offers something.
Behind the Scenes:
After I went to the beach and met some Hindus there, I followed one family to a temple in Queens. Me and my film partner witnessed a Hindu ceremony with music, prayers, rituals and more music. The ceremony was set to last several hours, so we took a break after two, when the priest approached us and asked us to participate in a blessing. Each of us was given a cup of milk, which we had to pour over a stone to offer it to the god. Then we had to take a candle and circle it three times in front of a Hindu goddess statue. The priest told us that this is one of the highest blessings one can receive in Hinduism.
Jamaica Bay Research and Management Network http://nbii-nin.ciesin.columbia.edu/jamaicabay/
National Park Service
Guyanese Press on Hindus in Jamaica Bay