Freshman Brinda Ambal models her religion with integrity


Caroline Judd

Sitting in front of the Hindu Temple of Saint Louis, freshman Brinda Ambal dons traditional attire. Ambal has been a member of her temple's Youth Group since 2016. “In St. Louis I can make [Hinduism] my own. The small things aren't that important, it's about how you live your life and follow the religion as a whole,” Ambal said. “A lot of our Holy Texts have stories about courage and trusting yourself so that you are best able to serve others.”

Walking through the Hindu Temple of St. Louis, freshman Brinda Ambal leads a group of tourists through the maze of deities, showcasing the religion she follows: Hinduism.

“The values of Hinduism are a big part of Indian culture. Integrity, in the sense of upholding one’s word. In many instances, stories center around a hero upholding his promise through truth. Upholding the truth leads to integrity,” Ambal said.

Within her temple, Ambal is involved with the youth group, which analyzes Holy Texts and volunteers throughout the community.

“I enjoy seeing peoples faces when they see a high school volunteer who is excited to be volunteering,” Ambal said. “It’s not all about the religion, it’s about fostering the community behind the religion because our school is Caucasian-dominated due to the demographics. It’s making connections and networking with people of similar backgrounds so that I can learn more about different communities.”

Outside of her youth group, Ambal also uses the Holy Texts to connect with her grandfather.

“My grandfather is obsessed with analyzing the holy texts, his enthusiasm also shows me that there is so much more to learn so that I don’t stop learning. Every time I read a story in one of our Holy Texts, it holds a new meaning relevant to whatever is going on in my life and the world right then. That, to me, is the beauty of my religion, because it conveys such deep morals through fairytale-like stories,” Ambal said.

Ambal’s grandfather’s passion encourages her to be more passionate.

“[He] inspires me because he was born while India was still under British control, and lived such a different life than ours today with WiFi and hands-on learning, but we can still find something in common that we both love,” Ambal said.

This connection showed Ambal how culture and religion have the power to unite two people who lived in such different times.

“Hinduism is polytheistic, we have many Gods for the same reason that people have different tastes,” Ambal said. “One person may love the taste of Warheads, while someone may love Sour Patch Kids with a passion., but they don’t get mad at each other for liking different candies with flavors. They simply acknowledge each other’s differences and move on. A Sour Patch Kids fan will still eat a Warhead because it’s still candy.”