Hindus Reflect Region's Religious Diversity

December 19, 2006

Author: Kelly Griffith

Source: Orlando Sentinel


The United States has 716 Hindu centers or temples -- 42 in Florida -- says The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, considered the best source of such data, according to Vasudha Narayanan, religion director at the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions at the University of Florida.

About 1.28 million Hindus live in this country, according to the 2004 World Almanac, although the Hindu American Foundation, a lobbying group, says there could be as many as 3 million practicing Hindus here.

The religion is the third-largest in the world with 793 million adherents, behind Christianity's approximately 2 billion believers and Islam, with about 1.3 billion followers.

The more diverse America's religious communities become, the more difficult it is to categorize people, experts say. Many Americans have adopted Buddhist meditation practices but may not consider themselves formal Buddhists. With Hindu practices, Narayanan's research found two forms in the United States: those that center on self-help, such as yoga and meditation, and formal worship in temples.

Last year, local Hindus completed a $2.5 million, 13,000-square-foot temple in Casselberry, celebrated as so much like temples in India that Hindus from around the region came to its opening.

The 2000 census shows more than 4,500 families of Indian origin living in Central Florida's seven counties. The Hindu Society of Central Florida has more than 2,000 families on its mailing list.