Hinduism in the United States

Hinduism in the United States

faith is still largely unknown to the general population, even as more temples are built.

The ARIS study of 2001 found some 1.1 million adherents of Hinduism in the United States (0.4% of US population).


Prior to 1965, Hindu immigration to the U.S. was minuscule and isolated. In those earlier days, traders were primarily the only ones who bothered to set foot in the USA. The Bellingham Riots in Bellingham, Washington on September 5, 1907 epitomized the low tolerance in the USA for Indians and Hindus. Despite such events, they continued to work and stay until the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS) Act of 1965 was passed. This opened the doors to Hindu immigrants who wished to work and start families in the United States. It included preachers as well, who spread awareness of the religion among a people that had little contact with it.

In September of 1965, an elderly Indian sadhu named Prabhupada arrived in New York. After a short time, he acquired a troupe of followers, and founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Since then many Hindu communities exist, from close-knit communities of mainstream Hindus living near one another to several farm communities owned by ISKCON.

Other influential Indians of a Hindu faith are Chinmoy and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Today, the most visible of the Hindu preachers appear to be those who sing the Hare Krishna Mahamantra (i.e. the Gaudiya Vaishnavas) as well as other Vaishnavas, and those of a Shaivite faith. Numerous sadhus and Gurus live in or visit the United States.

Rajan Zed, Hindu chaplain from Nevada, read the first Hindu prayer in the United States Senate in Washington DC on July 12, 2007, in its 218 years history. [Cite web |url=http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/7163 |title=California Senate opened with Hindu prayer for first time |accessdate=2008-07-24 |date=2007-08-29 |publisher="Asian Tribune"]

Hindu temples in the United States

The first Hindu temple in North America was the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Sri Venkateswara Temple was consecrated in 1976 and receives an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 pilgrims every year. Other prominent temples include the Malibu Hindu Temple, built in 1981 and located in Calabasas, is owned and operated by the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California. The temple is near Malibu, California.


The Hindus of the United States seem to enjoy both de jure and de facto legal equality. Generations of Hindus, both of South Asian, as well as European ancestry, have lived and worked in the USA, raising families, buying homes, and making roots, rendering their culture and spirituality an integral part of American culture. Hindus are second most educated among all religious groups in the United States, and are the second most affluent after the Jews. 43% of American Hindus made over $100,000 per year and 48% of Hindus have post-graduate degrees [ [http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEH20080228202512&Page=H&Title=Top+Stories&Topic=0 Well-educated and rich in US? Has to be a Hindu] Newindpress - February 29, 2008]


Since Hinduism is a minority religion, there is little awareness about it among the general public. Many misconceptions, stereotypes exist and are sometimes further perpetrated by otherwise responsible entities (such as schools, school books and encyclopedic articles). It is widely perceived in America as a religion with caste and worship of the cow as its defining features. In South Indian traditions, cattle reverence is done primarily during harvest festivals, due to the animal having contributed significantly to the agrarian lifestyle. The south Indian festival of Pongal reveres the cattle on a day known as Maattu Pongal by bathing and decorating them, and feeding them rich home-cooked savories.

A large fraction of American population today practices Hatha Yoga and meditation, concepts that have their origins in the Vedic culture. There has also been an extensive application of Hindu principles for self-improvement and execution of business in the work-place.


According to the United States Department of State's [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/ International Religious Freedom Report 2004] , the number of Hindus in the United States is approximately 1,478,670, or 0.5% of the total population. This figure consists of immigrants from countries where Hinduism is an indigeous belief and their descendants, as well as Americans who adhere to Hinduism.

ee also

*Californian Hindu textbook controversy


External links

* [http://www.councilofhindutemples.org/ The Council of Hindu Temples of North America]
* [http://www.indians-abroad.com/pls/dir/dir.show?cat_id=2348 Hindu Temples in USA]
* [http://www.hindumandir.us State-wise list of Hindu Temples in USA with photos and addresses]
* [http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/SSEAL/echoes/chapter4/chapter4.html South Asian Pioneers in California, 1899-1965]
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A334-2004Apr9 Wrath Over a Hindu God] by Shankar Vedantam, "Washington Post", 10 April 2004.

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