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Home   News   CNN: Houston’s young Hindus Americanize their faith

CNN: Houston’s young Hindus Americanize their faith

Ashadh Shukla Ekadashi , Kaliyug Varsha 5113
July 11, 2011

By Kate Shellnutt

The story begins:

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.

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.

Bhutada, like thousands of Hindus in Houston, attends the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Stafford, one of the biggest temples in the U.S.

Though Houston’s Hindu population has been concentrated south of the city for decades, the growing Hindu population in northern suburbs recently opened a brand-new temple in the Woodlands, one of more than a dozen in the area. Leaders estimate that 100,000 Hindus live in Houston.

The next generation of Hindus, while many still attend temple and identify with the ancient faith, do more to connect the faith with contemporary culture in America. One such effort has been the Take Back Yoga campaign, sponsored by the Hindu American Foundation, which has an office in Houston. They also have become more involved in college groups for Hindus and South Asians, a distinctly American expression of coming-of-age faith.

“The Hindu Students Association has had a monumental impact in allowing Hindu youth to truly understand what it means to adopt a Hindu lifestyle while at the same time defining oneself as an American,” wrote Houstonian Sameer Gajjar, currently a student at Texas A&M. ” I joined Hindu Students Association as a freshman, and it was the first time that I realized that I was not alone in my struggle as a Hindu-American, living a Hindu lifestyle in America.”

Young Hindus also involve themselves in the aspect of their faith that makes traditions meaningful to them, whether that’s the ancient devotional art of Hindu dance or the messy Holi celebration that takes place every year in Rosenberg.

Source: Blog Chron

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