Non-Christian Baylor students embrace Easter, own cultures

By Taylor Rexrode

Pastel-colored eggs, oversized chocolate bunnies, people dressed in their colorful Sunday best for church: These are all images of what most would consider a typical American Easter celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

For four Baylor students, however, Easter is just another American holiday in the spring.

These students do not celebrate the Christian tradition of Easter because they are not Christians. At Baylor, though they are a minority within the predominantly Christian community, these students are proud of their non-Christian beliefs and the cultures they represent.

As many Baylor students celebrate the Easter holiday at their home churches, non-Christian students, such as Sugar Land freshman Nevin Shah, a Jain, will enjoy the natural splendors of spring with family.

“I celebrate Easter more as a celebration of the coming of spring, including the rebirth of life all around me,” Shah said. “As a Jain, we have a Lent-like celebration in late August and September called Paryushan. My family’s major Easter tradition is just spending time together and reflecting on the year so far … along with the aesthetic joys of Easter like candy and bunnies.”

Another student considered the Christian community an important deciding factor for choosing to attend Baylor.

Edmond, Okla., freshman Azeem Malik is originally from Karachi, Pakistan, where he grew up in a conservative home practicing Islam. Malik said religion factored into his decision to attend Baylor.

“When I came to the U.S., my parents, who are conservative, wanted me to go to a college that wasn’t too liberal, but, at the same time, they wanted me to get a good education. I wanted that, too. I thought Baylor, because of its Christian values, would be a good place,” Malik said.

Even though Baylor was his “perfect fit,”Malik said he feels Baylor students, as a whole, should be more open to and cognitive of other religious practices.

“I think if we focus on a more world religion type class, make that mandatory, I think the students would be better equipped to understand their own beliefs of Christianity as well as understand the ideas of others and become more tolerant as a whole. I think that’s what the scope of education is.”

Malik said he was not exposed to much Christianity until he moved to the United States in 2009.

Since moving to the U.S., Malik said he has enjoyed the cultural experience of attending churches and the close friendships he has made with Christians here at Baylor.

Katy senior Maithilee Bedre said she sometimes feels the tension over her Hindu beliefs when talking with Christian students.

“I find it disrespectful when I occasionally find those people who try to tell me that I am following a baseless religion because the only true religion is Christianity,” Bedre said.

“I have faith in what I believe, and, at the end of the day, that is all that matters. I have been exposed to some people who have tried to talk me into seeing what a great religion Christianity is, and to that I completely agree. However, I don’t believe that my religion is any less in greatness.”

Katy freshman Mihir Bedre, Maithilee’s brother, said he enjoys the community he found at Baylor even before he sent in his application.

“I was dropping my sister off at move-in day, and the first time I drove onto the campus, I saw how beautiful it was. I saw the community. Knowing that it was Baptist, it was just the icing on the cake,” Mihir Bedre said.

Along with the community aspect of Baylor, Mihir said he has also enjoyed attending Chapel and growing spiritually in fellowship with his Christian friends.

“It allows you to relate to the Lord, whether you call him Jesus Christ or Krishna, whatever it is. That’s basically what it comes down to. You have a relationship with the Lord and Chapel really incorporates that,” Mihir said.