For Many Hindus, Home Worship as Integral as Time at Temple

June 16, 2007

Author: Brian Long

Source: The Knoxville News Sentinel


It is estimated that, worldwide, there are approximately 800 million adherents of Hinduism, a number more than twice the population of the United States. Locally, about 300-500 Hindu families live and worship in the Knoxville area, each adding its own unique and vibrant complement to the collage of faiths and traditions composing the Knoxville religious community.

Hindu worship is what Raj Gupta, current president of the Hindu Community Center of Knoxville committee, describes as "flexible." Procedures, traditions and rituals vary from family to family, temple to temple, sect to sect. This open-minded approach to the mechanics of worship is reflective of one of the fundamental tenets of Hinduism: that there are many paths to God and that a person should choose the way best suited to his or her nature and orientation.

Many Hindus worship in their homes even if they visit the temple at the Hindu Community Center regularly. A designated place in their home is set aside where, sometimes, photos or keepsakes of departed parents are kept, along with, on occasion, a personally relevant scripture or two, as well as photographs or other likenesses of their individually chosen deities. The scripture, if present, may have been taken from one of the several sacred writings of Hinduism, such as the Bhagavad-Gita, the four Vedas, or the Ramayana, among others. The deities present in the home or the temple are likenesses -usually in the form of sculpture- that Hindus believe God inhabits in a way similar to how many Christians believe bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of Communion. In the evening, families or individuals may light incense in the presence of these deities, some may meditate or pray or read scriptures, depending on preference or family tradition.