Houston's growing Hindu community
July 10th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

In Texas, young Hindus want to Americanize ancient faith

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Houston, Texas (CNN) - In many ways, 29-year-old Rishi Bhutada is a traditional Hindu, not so different from his Indian-born parents.

An officer at his dad’s pipefitting company, Texas-born Bhutada had an arranged marriage in India three years ago and then brought his wife back to his hometown, where they recently welcomed a son.

Bhutada is a strict vegetarian and avoids alcohol, as do many observant Hindus.

Complete coverage: Defining America

And the dashboard of his Toyota Prius is adorned with a small metal statue of Ganesh, an elephant-headed Hindu god known as the remover of obstacles. Bhutada prays to it each morning before leaving his driveway.

And yet Bhutada is a different kind of Hindu than his mom and dad.

His parents were part of a major wave of Indians who arrived in the U.S. in the 1960s and ’70s and focused their religious lives on building a community of believers and temples around Houston, which was then a Hindu wilderness.

Bhutada, by contrast, wants his religion to step out from that now-well-established Hindu hive to engage the broader culture.

Surprising origins of "Don't Mess with Texas"

Driving to lunch recently at a strip mall Indian buffet, he spoke of trying to forge a distinctly American Hindu identity that’s more tightly woven into the national fabric.

“The immigrant generation is focused on India, on the home country,” he said, noting that the TV in his parents’ house is often turned to a Hindi-language channel beamed in from the subcontinent. “I’m focused on the United States, which is my home country.”

That helps explain why a national group he’s involved with, the Hindu American Foundation, recently launched a Take Back Yoga campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the practice’s Hindu roots and values among non-Hindus.

And it's why Bhutada testified at the Capitol in Austin last year against a statewide school curriculum that calls Hinduism a polytheistic religion, a characterization many Hindus reject.

And it's why one area temple has begun placing copies of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, in thousands of Texas hotel rooms, right next to the Gideon Bible.

The developments speak to a new, publicly assertive stance that’s shared by many first-generation American Hindus across Houston, home to one of the country’s largest and fastest growing Indian enclaves, and by many young Hindus across the nation.

“Our parents had to build everything from scratch to make a united Hindu community in this country,” said Tejas N. Dave, 17, a high school junior who volunteers with a project bringing yoga to unprivileged Americans.

“Now we’re trying to reintegrate it back into society,” he said, “to make people realize that Hinduism is a religion and a way of life and a philosophy that’s not too different from what a lot of others believe. We’re all trying to make a better society.”

Some young Hindus are envious of the attention that American Muslims and Mormons have received in recent years – even if not all of the attention has been positive – and are trying to raise Hinduism’s national profile.

The impulse is not about winning converts. Hinduism, the world’s third-largest religion, doesn’t proselytize.

Rather, many young Hindus say, it’s about making their faith less exotic to others while making it more meaningful to their own modern American lives.

When their parents arrived from India a few decades ago, it was hard enough just being Hindu.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which overhauled the U.S. immigration system by eliminating biases toward European immigrants, among other things, opened American doors to millions of Asian immigrants, including Indians.

Those first arrivals struggled to recreate ethnic and religious networks from back home. When Bhutada’s father, Ramesh Bhutada, arrived in the U.S. in 1968, Houston played host to a single Hindu temple, which had opened earlier that year.

It was a stark change from India, where Hindus can stop into seemingly ubiquitous temples every day for brief visits, helping explain why so many Indians say “Hinduism is a way of life.”

There were more prosaic struggles, too. Many Hindus believe that vegetarianism denotes religious purity and a commitment to nonviolence, but they struggled to maintain that tradition in what was then a very meat-centric American diet.

“There was not even anything like a vegetable burger in those days,” Ramesh Bhutada said.

In those early years, new Hindu arrivals turned their homes into makeshift temples, holding religious education classes for their American-born children.

“There would be kids’ activities in one bedroom and adults in another,” said Dhruval Amin, 28, a Houston-based project manager at an international consulting firm, recalling childhood visits to such homes.

Today, Amin worships at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a sprawling, snow-white temple carved from Italian marble and Turkish limestone that sits on 22 manicured acres in Stafford, just south of Houston.

Opened in 2004, the temple is a proud symbol of the local Hindu community’s growth and prosperity, though it’s a story that’s hardly confined to Houston.

The U.S. Census does not track the number of Hindu Americans; the Census doesn’t ask about religion, period. But data from the 2010 Census show that Texas’ Asian Indian population nearly doubled in size in the past decade, to around 250,000.

Now, for the first time, Indians represent the largest Asian community in the state. Many were drawn by lucrative jobs in Texas’s booming oil, technology and medical sectors.

“A lot of the doctors in small metro markets across Texas are first- or second-generation Indians,” said Ray Perryman, who heads an economic research firm in Waco, Texas. “And the top two or three students in every high school tend to be from some part of Asia.”

Similar trends have emerged in other parts of the country. Nationally, Indian growth has surged by 60% in the past 10 years, according to the Census, with 2.8 million Asian Indians living in the U.S. today.

Indians now represent the country’s second-largest Asian group, after the Chinese.

They’re also among the nation’s most successful ethnic groups, with 71% of Asian Indians earning bachelor’s degrees or higher, compared with 28% of all Americans, according to data from the U.S. Census’s 2009 American Community Survey.

The survey reported that Asian Indians have median household incomes of more than $90,000, compared with $50,000 for all Americans.

Not everyone from that community is Hindu. India’s Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jain minorities are also represented in the United States.

At a recent yoga class at Houston’s India House, a community center, the instructor was Hindu, and most participants were Indian, but half were Catholic, Methodist or another kind of Christian.

When the instructor, Sarika Phalak, leads open and closing prayers that reference God, she invites participants to speak the name of their own deity. Many say “Jesus.”

Still, Hindu growth around Houston has exploded in recent years, with 19 temples now scattered across the sprawling metropolitan area, most built just in the past decade.

Temple-based Hindu youth camps long ago replaced home-based classes. And several national Hindu organizations now call Houston home.

The city’s Hindu onslaught put Charu Krishna Thammavaram, 28, in closer touch with her religion when she relocated from Lafayette, Louisiana, three years ago.

“I feel like a born-again Hindu now,” said Thammavaram, who works for an India-focused humanitarian group called Ekal Vidyalaya, which is headquartered in Houston.

In Louisiana, the lone “nearby” temple was an hour’s drive from Thammavaram’s home. Here, she had her choice of temples and settled on a Hare Krishna temple after shopping around, just as many Americans of other faiths do.

For many young Hindus, tweaking their religious heritage to make it more relevant has become an important project.

“My parents were just immersed in Hinduism, starting every day with prayer and accepting it without question,” said Kavita Pallod, a native Houstonian and first-generation American who recently graduated college. “But I don’t start my days with prayer. And Hinduism is something I’ve questioned and debated with friends.”

Yet Pallod, 23, has spent a good deal of time thinking about how to apply her faith to her life. “I believe that karma is the principal that guides the universe,” she said, referring to the Hindu concept of cosmic justice. “It’s one of the reasons I joined Teach for America.”

Pallod, who’s training for the teaching program this summer, was speaking at Star Pipe Products, the pipefitting distributor where Rishi Bhutada works and that his father, Ramesh, founded in 1982.

Situated at the end of a bland industrial drive on the city’s west end, the company doubles as a meeting place for local Hindus.

Among its warren of warehouse and offices spaces is a community center where a mural of Swami Vivekananda, a famous 19th-century spiritual leader who introduced the faith to the United States, fills the back wall.

But like the younger Bhutada, Pallod is intent on taking her religion outside officially Hindu spaces. As the president of the Hindus Student Association at the University of Texas at Austin until her graduation in May, she focused on introducing Hinduism to non-Hindu students.

Last spring, her group went all out to get non-Hindus to participate in Holi, a Hindu festival that involves throwing colored powder and water – often at other people – in a playful, rainbow-like spectacle.

“We wanted them to actually experience it themselves as opposed to just sitting there passively,” Pallod said of the event. “We wanted to teach that the colors are all about eliminating differences by making everyone look the same.”

The festival drew about 2,000 people, with many enthusiastically throwing colored powder at one another in the shadow the state Capitol. It was the kind of scene that Indian immigrant parents could have never imagined.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Content Partner • Hinduism • Interfaith issues • Texas

soundoff (2,004 Responses)
  1. Beth

    The picture of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is beautiful! I would love to see it in person one day.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  2. nv

    Hindus don't convert others either forcefully or through manipulation. Hinduism states that one can worship God is more than one form or ways, hence the "many Gods".
    What American Hinduism does need is better education of young people of our faith and culture. One way to "westrnise" the faith would be to have American born youngsters become priests, introduce more formal Sunday schools, etc as some temples are doing.
    I personally hope that the priests would quit wearing safron colored clothes and look more "normal"!
    Our children find the religion too complex and often wind up converting to other faiths that have more "simple" answers such as "you will go to hell if you do not believe like I do".
    Hindus were never banned from eating beef or drinking in moderation. These ideas came from Jainism. Hindus used to eat beef in the past. I personally wouldn't but dietery restrictions do not define our faith.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Hem Thapa

      We do not eat beef because Cow is sacred to our religion.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  3. Mangesh

    This article really skims the surface ......it represents a small slice of American Indians one who go to temples, eat vegetarian....and practice the Swaminarayan cult which is not Hinduism; these guys worship a living guy (who had cardio-vascular surgery a few years back in NY to preserve his life), where they separate women and men in the temples .

    Get your facts straight and don't clump everyone in one group. Just like in the broader Christian world David Koresh, Jimmy Swaggart, the pope and Jesse Jackson all comprise the multifaceted outlook we have our own pedophiles and crowd enthralling priests/leaders.

    Many people from all religions practice their faith for a few hours a weak and go out in the world and are mean to their fellow human beings or to the world in general. Sicilian mafia, mexico cartel members, Hindu or Muslim fanatics to name a few of the extremes.

    Overall religion is for the weak-minded !!!!

    July 10, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • IcanCu

      Not because we haven t seen any acts of violence and of TERRORISM doesn t mean we should not be mindful of India they are really no different than Muslims and are backwards their kids live under pressure.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Mangesh

      iCANcU ......I was born in India and live here , don't really care of choosing friends based upon race, religion or community...have friends and relatives from the human race . However Indians are generally peaceful and education oriented...backward in some respects yes but so are some people in the red states who want to ban stem cell research or teach creationism in school instead of teaching science and math (US ranks 17th in science and 25th in Math)....we need to compete with other countries ......overall you cannot lump people together...and like I said religion is for the weak minded !!!

      July 10, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Critiquoi

      Mangesh, shut the hell up. Hinduism is a curse which kept India for so many years as a slave country. If you are in America, count your blessings. CNN should provide more forums like this to expose the real Indians. You are only a Hindu if you are born one. You cannot become one. So stop paying any attention to them Hindus. Every religion is a good school of thought. So there is a reason why you were born in the one you were born in. If you cannot become a Hindu why even bother. Don't pay any attention to these fancy temples. Hindus should thank America to let them build these. These are just buildings. There is nothing in them except politics and struggle for power. America, Wake up....we don't need Hindu parasytes to awaken our lives. Let us get together. There is enough brains within America, only we have fogotten to realise. Get together and keep this poison out of creeping into America. CNN, good job. Please keep these kind of forums open to expose what you are dealing with. A Proud American.

      July 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  4. Fred

    America needs to stop all immigration as we can't take care of the people already here.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • caughtonthecrease

      Dear Fred,

      Only because of Immigrants America has rose to superpower. This land originally belongs to Red-Indians.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • flywithme

      WE need to stop immigration from nations that are dumping low-skilled workers. I'm all for Skilled-workers coming here. They bring talent, and jobs. Many Silicon valley corp. were co-founded by immigrants. If we do stop it, America will lose what made it great.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • KlausVos

      Feeling a little xenophobic are we?

      July 10, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • KlausVos

      I disagree flywithme
      unskilled laborers free up people to do other jobs
      obviously it isn't good when there aren't enough to go around, but when there are more than enough they help the economy
      you can't say I don't want THOSE immigrants because that ends up being classist

      July 10, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • John Richardson

      Employment tends to beget more employment. It is unemployment that starts cascades of further unemployment. The xenophobes of all nations seem to think employment is some sort of zero sum game when it is anything but.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • DKM

      first u and ur government have to stop buying goods from china and start taking pride in made in usa.....yeah u need to start buying american and grow in to economy rather than blaming immigrants who pay all taxes spend money and contribute to the economy.......U are so far from reality.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Hem

      Remember your ancestors were immigrants.............

      July 10, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • miss

      the article said 71% of them have college degrees, their average household income is $90K plus, and many are doctors (or at least in Texas, which was the state covered by this article). I'd say they were doing a pretty good job of taking care of *themselves*!

      July 10, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Fred

      Immigration had its time and place. We should read about it in history books. Fact is a large percentage of new immigrants are now welfare recipients.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • PRA

      We take care of ourselves. We come to this country for education and good jobs. We don't need you to take care of us, we do just fine...business owners, doctors, lawyers, engineers.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Critiquoi

      Fred, I fully agree with you. One hundred percent. Let us take care of the ones in America first. There is more than enough brain in America if put to right perspective. Cheers.

      July 11, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  5. Manish Kakadiya

    Yes we can.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  6. Shruti

    It's not true that most Hindus are vegetarian. It's a myth. Many Hindus eat chicken and fish. What they do not eat is pork or beef! Check your facts!

    July 10, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Mangesh

      No Indians eat beef and pork too....like me...I am a holy man and what better resting place for a holy cow than my stomach.....;)
      Love the Big Macs yummy

      July 10, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • AS

      Only ignorant ones do not eat beef and pork 😀

      It is definitely their choice and if they feel happy about it then one should not have any problem.

      But there is no historical evidence (absolutely nothing) that Hindus "were not allowed to eat beef or pork".

      July 10, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Mangesh

      AS the so called saints banned the practice of eating beef to preserve livestock during droughts and people from eating them....the avoidance of pork came from Muslim invasions of India......who cares give me a pepperoni or steak pizza any day....or if I am Korea some dog meat on mine......I am an equal opportunity EATER ...;)

      July 10, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Hem

      That's very true..........I even eat pork........and marry who I wanted.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • guest

      I am hindu. I just grilled the juiciest steak ever for dinner with my wife.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • PRA

      I am a meatatarian, alcohol drinking Hindu! I can't imagine a God that would strike me down for that, considering people are doing much worse things.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Critiquoi

      This guy Rishi Bhotada is born in Texas but the blood remains typical full of Indian Ego. It is written in the article ".....an officer in his father's pipe fittings company..." What kind of description is that?? This kind of description is only used in India where every person with a little power must be called or would like to be called Officer. What a joke!!!!

      July 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  7. Butch Tolles

    Thanks for the article it gave me, along with some o the comments, a little understanding of Hinduism and it's practices. It always comes down to interpretation doesn't it.Personal truth sounds like the dividing line in each ones belief. The basic concept behind vegetarianism is interesting and respectful. I find the Hindu philosphy as ever changing,eternal ,presence of God (Divinity) in all living things to be very much like my own practice and belief of Spirituality.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Critiquoi

      BS: A hindu trying have the final say on the topic in hiding.

      July 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  8. swin

    At the risk of starting a religious war, I would like to ask how come non-Christians are always immigrating to Christian countries and not the other way around? Could it be that there is something in that non-Christian faith that makes the old country very unlivable and something in the Christian faith (freedom, value of individual rights) that makes the new country very inviting?

    If that is the case, then to come to the new country with it's Christian values and beliefs and to hold on to your old beliefs would serve no other purpose than to undermine the new country and begin to turn it into the one you just left.

    I think too many immigrants, legal and otherwise, come to this country, not because they want to be here, but because they don't want to be there. And when they come here, they fail to realize that it is their customs, their heritage, their culture, and yes, their religion that made things so bad in the old country. If America is to continue to succeed as a beacon for immigrants, these immigrants need to realize that the old ways need to be put aside (they didn't work in the old country) and the American way of life needs to be adopted. You don't tell the captain of an ocean liner how to sail his ship when you can't even paddle a canoe.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Carlos

      America is not a christian nation!! the founding fathers of american were against christian, including Thomas jefferson who said that the christianity is the most perverted system that men even invented it... john adams said that lighthouses are more productive than churches and many other founding fathers who established a nation for all and they never said that american is a christian nation... this is an invent from the republicans and religious fanatism!! you should study more the history of your nation,

      July 10, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • DJ

      Just wait a few years when your grandkids have to migrate to India and China in search of jobs. Then you can wonder if religion has anything to do with it.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • swin

      Carlos – I have and you're wrong.

      DJ – when America embraces it's Christian heritage it succeeds, when it doesn't it fails. To whom more is given, more is expected.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • flywithme

      It not values of "Christians," they are proud of their religion and custom, but their nation is corrupt, and has been poor because of invaders and imperialism, not because their beliefs didn't work. That's why they come here, and as India and China grow wealthy, some of them are going back. It's not that it didn't work in their old country, but rather their culture was rich, their civilization was rich before Europeans and Muslims plundered them. "Freedom, and value of individual rights" isn't exclusive to Christians, those ideas were part of enlightenment, Christians throughout history haven't given Freedom or rights to their people, even though they are Christians. Freedom and value of individuality right? Then they HAVE A RIGHT, AND FREEDOM to believe in their beliefs. It's weird you want them to convert because they are in America, but YOU go around converting people of other beliefs. And that is somehow OK.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • kauppily

      This is idiotic. No.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • DJ

      swin – Dude, you make no sense.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Jack Brady

      @Swin: Thats why Christians migrated to the land of the native Indians (America) all those years ago? LOL!!! You sure do know your facts, don't you?

      July 10, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Jen

      Swin- I'm a historian. Your very incorrect. Unbelievably incorrect. Do you live in the bible belt? What educational system taught you this? Were you home schooled? How disturbing you think this.

      Carlos- You are very correct.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • swin

      Flywithme: Do not confuse the behavior of Christians with the behavior of people who call themselves Christians. Judeo-Christian morality is the basis of our law. When Judeo-Christianity is no longer the majority in this country, than the basis of our law will begin to change. I, for one, do not want to live in a society where women are property, marriages are arranged, polygamy is acceptable, and the rights of the individual are secondary to, and hence not protected by, the state.

      And your argument that these societies are so superior but were taken advantage of by others is a lot of baloney. If their society was so superior then how come their countries didn't rise up to become the oppressors, or at least be strong enough to resist oppression?

      Nearly all modern day advancements in medicine, technology, chemistry, physics, and engineering have been made by European/American/Christian societies. Again I ask – if their societies are so great then why are they coming here and not the other way around?

      July 10, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Beth

      Actually, most top scientists today are from places like India and China. Without immigrants from those countries we would have already fallen way behind in technology and business.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • joe

      I urge you to get a vasectomy ASAP.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • John Richardson

      @swin Non-Christians weren't immigrating when the Christians held real power! The rise of secularism and tolerance made the west an option and the wealth the nations formerly under the yoke of Christianity accrued with their relatively free market economies made these places economically desirable places to be. In any case, there are a lot of ex-pat westerners in the wealthy Arab oil states.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, and the US was set up specifically to have a SECULAR government. It may seem paradoxical to those living in a country with a high degree of religious freedom that that religious freedom stems from secularism, but it does. Non-secular forms of government tend to favor one sect within one religion and clobber all the rest.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • lg

      At the turn of previous centuries most immigrants were from Christian nations, i.e. Europe so your position doesn't seem to have real historical accuracy...

      July 10, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Rubin Safaya

      Swin wrote "I, for one, do not want to live in a society where women are property, marriages are arranged, polygamy is acceptable, and the rights of the individual are secondary to, and hence not protected by, the state."

      You mean like in the Bible?

      July 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • NOspider

      Because Christians have stolen most the wealth from other nations as part of the crusades. American is beautiful nation with a Christian majority but not a Christian nation.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Pankaj

      Swin – A simple question. By using your argument, do the Hindus (India) have the right to ask why non-Hindus (Muslims and then Christians) invaded India (when India was like the topmost economy of the world) and still did not leave behind their faith? Everyone looks to move to a more prosperous region – don't for a minute think that it's the religion that makes a region prosperous – if that were the case, India was the topmost economy for 5 times the years the US has been in existence.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Pankaj

      Swin – Here's an analogy: –
      One street – 10 houses. A couple of houses have 1 million dollars + little arms. A few others have 100 dollars and heavy arms. For 10 years, rich remain rich while poor fight amongst themselves. Then, one fine day, poor invade rich's house and due to greater war experience plunder all wealth. Using this new wealth, they settle down, get more 'civilized'. After few years, the former rich come to the new rich to join them – the new rich say ' Oh!, leave behind your rituals etc, because that definitely did not work in your house" Well yeah!!! it worked for eternity before you came and looted.... Get the point?

      July 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Neal

      This is really scary. The nonsense I left behind and came to America, is creeping back into America. Hinduism, Yoga, temples ...what is next, caste system. America has always helped the underprivilidged. But the hindus that come here have had the best of both worlds. Most of them are from high castes. American authorities should be careful. They should be generous to the low caste hindus and bring them here. They will be much more thankful than these parasytes whose main motive in America is to become a Doctor, by hook or by crook by one way or the other. So watch Americans, Hindus are a curse and parastytes that are creeping into America.

      July 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Critiquoi

      This is really scary. The nonsense I left behind and came to America, is creeping back into America. Hinduism, Yoga, temples ...what is next, caste system. America has always helped the underprivilidged. But the hindus that come here have had the best of both worlds. Most of them are from high castes. American authorities should be careful. They should be generous to the low caste hindus and bring them here. They will be much more thankful than these parasytes whose main motive in America is to become a Doctor, by hook or by crook by one way or the other. So watch Americans, Hindus are a curse and parastytes that are creeping into America.

      July 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Critiquoi

      One hindu, one philosopher, Two hindus, Arguement, Three hindus, Confusion. Here is big confusion.

      July 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  9. Oskar Myerr

    All organized, dogmatic religion is ancient baloney. "Updating" the baloney to, say, vegan or organic, or american, or any other kind of, "update" is all well and good. But it all remains baloney.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  10. Neal

    What a non-sense article. A few facts about Hindus. You know you cannot become a Hindu, you are only born one. Caste system is an integral part of Hinduism. You should see the condition the dalits (low caste indians) live in India. Some dogs lead a better life in America. You know what you will have to go through to build a Church in India. Hindus don't want low caste Indians to convert to Chistianily but they boast about these temples in America. My foot. These Hindus should be ignored. They just want to show off and get praise. White girls with long blonde or red hair will get lot of attention in Hindu temples even more than the dieties there. African Americans will totally be ignored. Just try this. Stop paying any attention to Hindus.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Debashree

      Neal, some of what you have written is true. But fortunately, or unfortunately, it doesn't define Hinduism or Hindus. If building a church in India was that difficult, we wouldn't have thousands of them in a country that has less than 10% Christians. So, it would be nice if you check your facts before you deride Hinduism.
      Oh! And you don't need to be born a Hindu. That might be a school of thought, but not a necessity. You don't have to do anything to be a Hindu, in fact. So, relax!

      July 10, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Jack Brady


      Your comments are ignorant. I have been to India. Untouchables or Dalits historically did have a hard time in India – it is slowly changing in India – the younger generation does not care about the caste system. America still has a problem with racism too – it will take some time for India to get paste it's caste system. Note though that the the religious texts describe caste system as a way of describing functions much like professions. When caste system was introduced – it was mobile – it was by merit. So, it's not the religion that's to blame – more so the corruption of the original system.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • A Hindu born into Hindu family living in US

      Thanks Neal for your inspiring words. Should I leave my faith and adopt other faith because you are frustrated and you hate Hindus. Watch yourself in mirror and see what malice you have in you before accusing others.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  11. Biscayne Bay

    I hope all the Gods of all the different religions of our world don't kill or blow up our planet all in the name of their God

    July 10, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  12. Nik

    What a ridiculous article, why should Hindus Americanize their faith. I feel that Hindus and Sikhs in America adopt enough of American culture, much more than other faiths, now you want to Americanize our religion?

    July 10, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • John Richardson

      I think what we really have is mediocre reporting and a really bad headline. It is typical of the first generations born in the US (and any other country, generally speaking) to immigrant parents to assimilate more to the host country's culture and it is conversely typical of the host country to become more familiar with and accepting of what had seemed exotic differences when the first waves of immigrants arrived. This mutual assimilation happens pretty much all by itself. (I recall stories a friend of mine from Chicago told about his father's experiences in a Chicago of not long ago where a Lithuanian would be afraid to walk in an Irish neighborhood and vice versa. Those days are long gone and while we still have a long ways to go, there is every reason to believe that eventual mutual acceptance is ultimately the norm.)

      July 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  13. Debashree

    It is very strange to read of Hindus being mostly vegetarian or not drinking alcohol :)... I think its part of the Hindu myth here. Whether we eat meat, fish, eggs or not more often than not, depends on the place we come from, in India and what school of thought we follow. Also depends on the 'caste' sometimes. But again, people might say that Brahmins are vegetarian.... tell the Bengali Brahmins that 🙂 (amongst the other meat eating Brahmins).
    I treat Hinduism, not as a religion, but as a lifestyle... that doesn't require me to do 'this' or 'that' to remain a Hindu. I wish the article would focus more on that aspect.... I can't think of any other 'faith with God/s' where being an Atheist or an Agnostic is not just acceptable, it is part of the faith.... That's what I find interesting and that's why I think Hindus can just go and adapt to any culture, without feeling the need to change themselves or the culture they are adapting into. We also don't find it conflicting to read religious scriptures and science together :).

    July 10, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  14. Peri Browner

    All they have to do is not let any non-hindus into their temples. Then they would look just like a different flavor of Mormonism. Don't both religions believe in multiple deities and that anyone who is good enough can achieve godhood? But, I don't think Hindus believe that their gods are space aliens.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  15. john john

    I'm still waiting on a lot of Christians to Americanize their faith for the 21st Century. You've got GOP presidential hopefuls Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum signing pledges that sound like they were drafted in the 17th Century.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  16. mark

    I have respect for hindus although I am an atheist. They live and let live and their children rise to the top because they WORK hard and not because they can say pretty words or have big connections.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • lg

      Because they "WORK" hard. Dude give me a break. Alot of their parents come from wealthy parts of India and they move to wealthy, affluent areas of the US. Yes, they still have to 'WORK' hard but that is not to say that their status and wealth do no affect their level of success.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  17. teddy

    Ok the thing is why would you change your religion in to something else man I mean seriously...... Every religion should understand that if you believe in God or whatever you believe in is that believe in it the way your religion was reaveled to you. Cause if you don't then religion starts getting confusing.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  18. Bob K

    Great!! Just be careful though, the next thing you'll see is an triangular orange flag popping up on every fifth mountain in the US designated as a deity place with walking trails of a few kilometers promising bliss, can't imagine what color they'll use for grand canyon mountains

    July 10, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Debashree

      Bob – Seriously, you need to read less into the 'propaganda' :). Even in India you don't see the triangular orange flags everywhere. There are fanatics within Hinduism, like in any religion. But do take solace in the fact that Hindus don't proselytize and generally go about leading their own lives.

      July 10, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • red

      RED, WHITE AND BLUE...with little bit of orange shade to it...

      July 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Jack Brady

      @ Bob K

      How is that different from every church across every street in every city across the country? Atleast, their temples have some color and allow for humans to have an open mind and freedom of thought! There's a reason, their citizens are able to reconcile modern science and reason with a religion so old yet so universal

      July 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  19. naysayer

    This was a stupid question, unless the answer is for everyone to become christian.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  20. NG

    Hinduism is monotheistic. Most don't seem to know this. See Rig Veda 10:129. There is a single "Brahman" (not to be confused with Brahmin or Bramha). The many "gods" represent the many "facets" of Brahman – The One. For example, your mother is a single human being. But she's also a daughter. She is also a wife. She is a friend. She might also be a sister. She might be an aunt. She might be a teacher. And so on. How could she be so many different people? She isn't. She is just one human with different "roles" or "facets". The role depends on her relationship with you. Each calls her by a different name. Yet, in the end, she is just one. So also Brahman. Look it up.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Jack Brady


      Nicely explained my friend!

      July 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • John Richardson

      Yes, but that is still very different from the way Yahweh and Allah are described and discussed and to say that there is no significance to the difference just seems absurd.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.