Diasporic and indigenous hinduism in North America

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Book Chapter

Publication Title

Contemporary Hinduism

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>As a number of the articles in this volume illustrate, Hinduism, a tradition (or, perhaps more accurately, a collection of traditions) indigenous to the Indian subcontinent (south Asia) is now an international tradition, practised worldwide in such disparate locations as Europe, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and North America. In this chapter, I hope to illustrate both the adaptability of the Hindu diaspora to the relatively new environment in which Hindus find themselves in North America, as well as the emergence of an indigenous North American Hinduism, the membership of which draws not only from the Indian community that has traditionally practised Hinduism, but also from non-Indians, such as myself, who have come to identify ourselves as Hindus. HARI temple The Hindu American Religious Institute (HARI) temple is located on a two-lane road that winds through the woods of rural central Pennsylvania. Unlike many Hindu temples in North America, the building does not immediately strike us as distinctively Hindu in its appearance. It looks somewhat like a large, two-storey house, with a parking lot in the front and an American flag flying in the breeze near the entrance. The only clearly Hindu architectural feature is the large gate through which we enter the property, with the holy mantra Om (՝) written at the top in the Devanagari script of Sanskrit, and the names Sītā Rām and Rādha Kṛṣṇa written in the Roman alphabet on the sides.

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