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Saumya Arya Haas
Saumya Arya Haas is an ALB candidate in Religious Studies at Harvard University. She lives with challenges due to a Traumatic Brain Injury. Prior to this life-altering injury, she engaged in Interfaith/Intergroup Dialogue and Social Justice work as Director of Headwaters/Delta Interfaith, advising organizations including The New Orleans Healing Center and Hindu American Seva Charities; this work has taken her everywhere from West Africa to the White House. She writes for diverse publications online and in print media. Saumya is a priestess of both Hinduism and Vodou.

Entries by Saumya Arya Haas

Black Savagery and "Voodoo" Horror at Universal Studio's Bayou of Blood

(10) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 5:12 PM

Do you like horror entertainment? I do, and this is a great time of year for it. Universal Studios Orlando has what looks like an exciting experience called Halloween Horror Nights. Part of this event is Bayou of Blood, a "Louisiana voodoo" themed "scare...

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Is Magic a Social Service?

(7) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 2:41 PM

The doctors did everything they could, but maybe I would die. I lay in an Indian hospital, and worried about it. Word got out that I'm a priestess. And whose daughter I am. There was supposed to be someone watching my door, but this lady got in. She held a...

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Daughters of India

(42) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 4:50 PM

I am not quite estranged from India. We keep in touch, but it's cautious. Although I was adopted out to the Diaspora before I was even born, India is my Mother Country. We finally met when I was 10 years old. I was not what She hoped for.


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Why My Vote On Gay Marriage Shouldn't Count (And Neither Should Yours)

(42) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 3:48 PM

I live in Minnesota, where, on Nov. 6, we will be voting on (among other things) whether or not to amend our State Constitution to include the following: Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota....

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Hindu American Seva Charities: Hello, America! The Hindus Are Here, And We'd Like To Help You

(56) Comments | Posted July 31, 2012 | 11:30 PM

My family has a tradition: if we are all in India on New Year's Eve, we go to evening arti at Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh. We purchase tiny boats made of leaves, heaped with flowers, incense and a small earthen lamp. You can hold the whole thing in your cupped...

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10 Hindu Women You Should Know And Why You Should Know Them

(64) Comments | Posted April 4, 2012 | 12:00 PM

When I tell people I'm Hindu, one of the first reactions is sympathy. Because I'm not just Hindu, I'm a Hindu woman. It's assumed that this is a difficult thing to be. Honestly, sometimes it is. Hinduism comes with considerable gender baggage (what doesn't?). Yes, a lot of Hindu women...

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Stand Up, Speak Out: Despite Challenges, High School Students Confront Bullying

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2011 | 3:11 PM

In October, I stepped into the raucous noise of a high school event. I don't have children, and the chaos made me momentarily cower. If you're not used to them, young people are loud and little frightening. I attended the event to show support to my niece, Dharani Persaud (who...

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The Goddess Kali, Gender, and Violence: A Hindu-American Feminist's Struggle

(79) Comments | Posted October 13, 2011 | 1:40 PM

This is an odd time, and I am an odd person, to be writing this. I'm a woman. We just finished the Hindu Festival of Navrathri, which is a nine-night celebration of the Feminine Divine. So why am I writing about the spiritual wisdom of men?

One of my...

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Healing the Wounded: New Orleans, Doubt and the Value of Irrational Faith

(4) Comments | Posted August 18, 2011 | 9:22 AM

I fell in love with a broken city. Like all love, it is impractical, ridiculous, and difficult to explain. It makes me look like a fool. I could describe her to you: her beauty, her history of abuse, her spirit and her ways. But you wouldn't understand unless you love...

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'Sita Sings the Blues' Brings out the Bullies

(50) Comments | Posted July 25, 2011 | 12:55 PM

Last week in Queens, young Hindu-American organized a screening and discussion of an animated film called "Sita Sings the Blues," to draw other young Hindus and Sikhs into conversation about their faiths.

Rather than recap the entire debacle here, you can read what happened next in the

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Coffee Shop Religion: Interfaith of the Everyday

(84) Comments | Posted April 25, 2011 | 9:45 PM

I never learned much about religion until I started hanging out at Muddy Waters Coffee Shop on the corner of Lyndale and 24th in Uptown, Minneapolis.

I was raised to be a priestess (of Hinduism), grew up surrounded by world scripture and philosophy, and was taught by...

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What is Voodoo? Making Sense of Animal Sacrifice, the Undead and Possession

(11) Comments | Posted March 10, 2011 | 3:01 PM

Editors note: While this article adheres to the AP Style, 'Vodou' is considered a more appropriate spelling by the author and other scholars.

Presenting Voodoo to my readers has been challenging: it is a vast, varied and much-abused subject. In my first post, I introduced some basic concepts...

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What is Voodoo? Understanding a Misunderstood Religion

(143) Comments | Posted February 25, 2011 | 8:33 PM

Editors Note: While this article uses the AP Style spelling, 'Vodou' is considered a more appropriate spelling by the author and other scholars.

Before I answer any questions, I have some for you: What do you know about Voodoo?
Where did you get that impression?

Voodoo probably isn't what...

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The Definition of Rape, My Rage and Hindu Goddess Wisdom

(108) Comments | Posted February 6, 2011 | 6:36 PM

We've been arguing about rape a lot lately. The legal definitions of both "rape" and of "victim" have recently been challenged in separate proposed legislation. (I understand many people prefer the term "rape survivor;" in this article, "victim" refers to the legal language only.)

I'm relieved to hear that The...

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Say The Name: There Is No Such Thing As Holocaust Fiction

(122) Comments | Posted January 1, 2011 | 6:52 PM

After a lifetime of not thinking about it much, I suddenly stumbled into Holocaust memories, and now they are tangled around me. They are not my memories, but their meaning is part of my life. It has to be.

Why am I posting this in the midst of the...

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Holiday Giving's Not Just For Christians Anymore

(2) Comments | Posted December 13, 2010 | 2:01 AM

Every year, the Christmas vs. The Holidays debate is dragged out, dusted off and hung up again. I'd like to propose an alternative way to express a (non-Christian) encounter with Christmas. Let's agree that Christians are the majority but not the only religious culture that influences our popular and public...

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A Hindu American's Thanksgiving

(12) Comments | Posted November 24, 2010 | 6:44 PM

I have an immigrant's dream: a Better Homes and Gardens Thanksgiving dinner. One perfectly choreographed meal of American bounty and perfection. This photogenic fantasy meal represents something else: proof of my worth. Although I was born here, I used to feel I came up short on this most American of...

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