Hindu Students Guide

Full credit to be given to HUMSoc and all other student volunteers that helped put it together.

Disclaimer: This guide has been complied by current Oxford Students and to the best of their knowledge, is accurate. However there may have been changes since publication. If you would like current advice about the information here or any welfare issue, please contact advice@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk

 

Before Arriving in Oxford

  • Feel free to bring traditional clothing, as many of the HUMSoc events give you an opportunity to wear them (such as the Diwali Ball.)
  • Feel free to bring any statues or idols (murtis) and pictures if you would like to set up a little Mandir in your room.
  • It is worth bearing in mind, though, that most colleges don’t allow open flames or incense in your room.
  • If your college accommodation has a kitchen, you can bring some spices to help get the taste of homemade food - often food in hall or restaurants just isn’t the same.

Staying connected to Hinduism

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies: This is located at 13 Magdalen St, Oxford OX1 3AE (between the nightclub fever and the Tesco):

  • This is the base for academics and those who want to find out more about Hinduism from the library collection. It is also a safe community space for Hindus.
  • (Note: this won’t be happening due to Covid) There are weekly Indian (vegetarian) meals, for a small fee, served on Wednesdays at 1pm at the Hindu Centre. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is homely; it is a great opportunity to meet others interested in Hinduism and get some good Indian food.
  • (Note: this won’t be happening due to Covid) The first Diwali away from home in Michaelmas is always unusual, but the Hindu Centre organises an amazing celebration in Oxford with bhajans, Indian sweets and diyas!

You can learn more through here: https://ochs.org.uk/

Where to pray in Oxford

Unfortunately there is no dedicated Mandir (temple/communal worship place for Hindus) near central Oxford or the university, but the next best thing is the OCHS (Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies).

(Note: this won’t be happening due to Covid) HUMSoc (Hindu Society) holds their weekly aartis here - Tuesdays 6-6.45pm, which are open to all, no matter your background or experience. Check out their Facebook page and website for more info!

HUMSoc (Hindu Society)

Oxford University Hindu Society is a space that aims to provide a home away from home for Hindus at Oxford. It is a student led society that holds functions to celebrate festivals like Holi and Diwali as well as termly dinners and social events for drinkers and non-drinkers. It also provides a weekly aarti (prayer session). By participating in HUMSoc events, it is a really easy way to meet people of the same background and faith.

You can keep updated on what events they hold through following their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oxfordhumsoc

You can also check their website for more information about them: https://oxfordhindusociety.co.uk/

And also, you can contact their committee members with any questions you may have: https://oxfordhindusociety.co.uk/committee/

Some of their largest events include:

Diwali ball

The annual Diwali Ball is our most prolific event: a celebration of the auspicious Festival of Lights. Last year we transformed the Oxford Town Hall into a spectacle of lights, music, and culture. As well as musical entertainment, we had Bollywood-style photo booths, henna stalls, an abundance of food and… UNLIMITED drinks and cocktails. All proceeds went to charity – we raised a total of £10,000 to support SNEHA, who work with communities to improve health outcomes of vulnerable women and children in India.

Holi

Our annual OxHoli event is Oxford’s BIGGEST colour fight celebrating Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colour! Even though Holi is actually in March we hold our event in Trinity Term (May), when the weather is better. Unfortunately we were not able to have our event this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures. But we look forward to celebrating it when we next can, and it will be even bigger, better and more colourful than last year’s.

Events that happen all year round include

Mulakaats: Mulakaats are termly events, usually held in a college bar, where one can have a samosa, grab a drink and dance to some bollywood tunes. They are a wholesome and fun way to break up a busy term and allows you to be social with other Hindus and South Asians. They are also usually considered the pre drinks to a Bollywood bop that Oxford India society holds at a nightclub. There is no pressure to drink at either of these events and you can stay for as long as you want and the event is free. You can dress up in any clothes, Indian or other and anyone is welcome to attend these events like all HUMSoc events. (Because of the pandemic we can’t host these events in person unfortunately but keep an eye out for online socials)

Non-drinking events: There are often events such as Film and Chai, Ice cream events, Bubble tea or dinners that the society hosts throughout the year. Again, keeping up to date with the society on Facebook is the best way to see what’s happening.

Speaker events: HUMSoc also hosts speakers of a variety of backgrounds and topics, and these are also great to go to.

Food

If you are feeling homesick, you may want to find some Desi food to eat. It is a great way to feel closer to home. Here are a few places in Oxford where you can find some:

  • (Note: this won’t be happening due to Covid) At Hindu events (both through the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and HUMSoc) there will be food provisions that will remind you of home.
  • There’s a shop at the start of Cowley Road called Tahmid which has lots of Desi food, including paneer, Indian vegetables like bhindi and dosa batter!
  • Chutneys on the corner of New Inn Hall Street have a secret - if you go and request any of their curry styles they can do it with any meat or paneer! Their Korai Paneer and Peshwari Naan are especially recommended. 4500 Miles from Delhi is another great choice on Park End Street.
  • A bit pricier is Cinnamon Kitchen in Westgate which is also phenomenal for Indian food- going with a Union member also means you can bag a discount. Their Chicken Jalfrezi and also Chilli Paneer is recommended.

Final Pieces of Advice

  • Oxford can seem a very white community, but generally people are so friendly and willing to learn about different cultures. You will be okay.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people from a similar background, this can really help with any homesickness you may be experiencing in University.
  • Embrace your culture(s) – it's beautiful and unique, so don't be afraid to be proud of it and share it with your friends where you can!