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Amar Shah Named First Hindu Chaplain at Illinois’ Northwestern University

Amar Shah Named First Hindu Chaplain at Illinois’ Northwestern University

  • The 2016 graduate was appointed to the post after students advocated for the creation of the position in fall 2019.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2016, Amar Shah is returning to his alma mater as the inaugural Hindu chaplain. According to a report in campus newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, Shah’s appointment was announced in late April, “after students had advocated for the creation of the position since fall 2019.” 

Shah told the paper that he “is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to spiritual life at Northwestern and serve the greater community.” Shah, who studied as a Hindu monk for two years, told The Daily Northwestern that he sees his role “as more of a translator between past and present. He said he hoped “to be able to care for and provide a little bit more of a backbone and support in the community that we know could use it right now, particularly in light of mental health concerns due to the pandemic.”

During his time at Northwestern, Shah studied economics and global health and was involved in several cultural groups on campus, including South Asian Students Alliance and South Asian fraternity Alpha Iota Omicron, which has since disbanded. However, he told the paper that there “lacked” a conscious effort for more Hindu representation during his time at the university. With the new position, he hopes to help build a safe space for Hindu and non-Hindu students to explore their spirituality.

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Pari Thakkar and Mirage Modi, co-presidents of Hindu spiritual student group OM told The Daily Northwestern that they hope that as an alumni, Shah can understand the struggles of being a Northwestern student. Thakkar, who found OM in fall 2019, told the paper that she thinks Shah “will be able to help Hindu students, both undergraduate and graduate at Northwestern grapple with their religion and be able to explore their curiosities when it comes to what religion means to them.”

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