Bhajan singing preserves Indian traditions

It’s Friday evening and the bhajan singers are arriving at the home of Vikas and Nisha Padhye. Women in flowing Indian dresses with colorful sashes and scarves. A few men in what westerners like to call Nehru shirts or jackets, but most are all-American in jeans or khakis, T-shirts or plaids.

They leave their shoes at the door — within an hour some 60 shoes are stacked there — and gather in the basement recreation room. They sit cross-legged or on their knees before an altar adorned with pictures of Hindu deities. The evening begins with slow intonations of the sacred word AUM, followed by a half hour of unison chanting of ancient Hindu prayers.