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Understanding Hinduism in United States

Swami Vivekanand was the establisher of Hinduism in Chicago . More than 80,000 Hindus presently live in Chicago comprising American as well as Indian Hindus.

This is a video released by Chicago police department. In this, Rev. Chaplain Dean guides us through the cultures and traditions of Hinduism.

Watch this video

Here is a brief summary of his point of view.

  • In Chicago, Hinduism was established by Swami Vivekanand (a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa) in 1883. Since then nearly 80,000 have settled in the Chicago.
  • A major chunk of this immigrated population comprises of Indian doctors, professors and engineers. Most of them are concentrated in western and northern suburb regions.
  • Hindus worship different idols of gods and goddess. However they believe in one supreme lord “The creator”. There is a great sense of respect among Hindus towards all other religion.
  • Every Hindu home has some place reserved for worship. Be it community temples or simple home temples, Hindus always worship their gods in temples. Darshans are often done during weekdays followed by offerings. There’s a whole different mesmerizing ambiance inside a Hindu temple.
  • Unlike western culture, eastern nations such as India, Japan follow a different tradition. Wearing shoes are not allowed inside temples and touching any idols are not allowed. Even photography is strictly prohibited.
  • In Hinduism, the Right hand is ideally preferred for handling sacred objects and food. It is considered inauspicious and rude if someone offers via his left hand.
  • Similar to England, Indian police do not carry weapons with them. So these Indian Hindus often get frightened when approached by a police officer.

Related article : Being an American Indian ,from the eyes of Gauri

  • Women often wear Saari and marriage necklace along with a Bindi on their forehead as a sign of marriage. In males, sacred tilak is applied. People welcome others by doing Namastey (generally means I worship the divine within you)
  • Touching is considered to be a bit inappropriate in Hinduism (especially among opposite genders). It is highly inappropriate to ask Hindu women to remove anyone of them. Police officers are expected to respect the dignity of Hindu women. Same goes the other way round.
  • Most Hindus are vegetarians and non-smokers, so smoking and bringing non-veg food are considered to be disrespectful.
  • Swastika is a religious symbol symbolizing power (Shakti) which means let goodness prevail. In Hindu homes, one can often see swastika inscribed in front of their doors. Even temples contain these holy symbols as a mark of auspiciousness.

Pritam, a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself.

Twitter @pritam_gogreen

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