Serving the Dying

Serving the DyingThe city of Kashi or Varanasi/Banaras in India that sits on the banks of the Ganges is known for its cremation grounds. This name is preserved by the Kashi Ashram in Florida, known for its service to the dying. Kashi Ashram is a legacy of Ma Jaya, a Brooklyn-born American woman of Jewish descent who founded the ashram. Ma is remembered for her loving service to those who are dying, visiting hospitals and AIDS hospices in the city, offering cookies and fruits, and visiting, hugging, and encouraging the hospitals’ patients, especially those with AIDS.... Read more about Serving the Dying

Yoga, Health, the New Age

Yoga, Health, the New AgeYoga (literally “to yoke” or “to join”) is both a spiritual and physical discipline of uniting body and mind through different meditations. Yoga begins with a practice of morality, restraining from violence, dishonesty, and strong desires for material possessions, among others. Yoga focuses on the breath, thus cultivating stability and one-pointedness of mind along with flexibility of the body.... Read more about Yoga, Health, the New Age

Hindu Summer Camps

Hindu Summer CampsHindu communities organize summer camps, which are part of the wider youth culture of the United States. Summer camps allow youth to learn about their Hindu backgrounds in engaging ways: performing pujas, practicing yoga, dance and music, doing sports, plays, and performances. Led by swamis, question and answer sessions are one of the central camp events.  The Q&As provide opportunities for campers to ask questions and discuss stereotypes about their faith that they encounter among their non-Hindu peers.... Read more about Hindu Summer Camps

What is Hinduism?

What is Hinduism“What is Hinduism” remains one of the most persistent and challenging questions Hindu Americans face. This is a difficult question to answer, given the wide array of practices and different national, generational, and geographical identities and beliefs in Hinduism. 
... Read more about What is Hinduism?

Many Traditions, Many Peoples

Many Traditions, Many PeoplesThe unique context of the United States has often challenged American Hindu's affirmation of the oneness of its many visions of the Divine. Whereas different traditions in India may not have to share resources or festivals, Hindus of different backgrounds in the United States often need to share resources, and as such must address questions such as which prominent Deity will occupy a central space in the shared Hindu temple.... Read more about Many Traditions, Many Peoples

The Future of Temples?

The Future of TemplesFirst- and second-generation Hindu Americans stress the importance of intergenerational communication of Hindu values as necessary to maintaining temples and Hindu culture. In light of this, many temples offer educational programs such as “children’s pujas,” where parents and children come to the temple and learn how to make offerings, summer camps, youth conferences, dance and language classes.... Read more about The Future of Temples?

Upanayana: The Sacred Thread

Upanayana the Sacred ThreadUpanayana is a Hindu rite of passage ritual primarily for boys, marking their rebirth into the world of the Vedas and their readiness to learn the tradition. In the middle of the ceremony, boys are given special tradition garments,  often in the form of a new white silk dhoti. They are also given the “sacred thread” in the form of a cord tied over the left shoulder and under the right arm. These materials signify the boy’s readiness for learning, studying the Veda, and performing rituals.... Read more about Upanayana: The Sacred Thread

Many Ma’s: Goddess in America

Many Ma's Goddess in AmericanThe Goddess in the Hindu faith is known by many names: Parvati (the wife of Shiva), Lakshmi or Bhu Devi (the wife of Vishnu), Durga or Kali, Shakti (meaning power). Her most common name most often used in prayer is Ma, or Mother. The main celebration of the Goddess is Durga Puja, also called Navaratri since it takes place over “Nine Nights.” Ma, or Mother, is also used to refer to women whose lives embody the power of the Divine within the Hindu community. ... Read more about Many Ma’s: Goddess in America

Krishna’s Chariot Festival

Krishna's Chariot FestivalThe festival of Lord Krishna (also called Ratha Yatra or the “Chariot Journey” of Lord Krishna) is celebrated during the summer months with a parade of big and colorful handmade chariots bearing images of Lord Krishna, his sister Subhadra, and his brother Balaram. The festival provides an opportunity for darshan, or “seeing” the image of Lord Krishna on the city’s streets.... Read more about Krishna’s Chariot Festival

The Great Night of Shiva

The Great Night of ShivaShiva or Mahadeva, the Supreme Lord, is a God of creation and destruction. Depicted as both male and female, Shiva is most commonly worshipped in the form of a simple stone shaft (Shiva linga), a male/female symbol of cosmic wholeness. Shiva may also be depicted in cross-legged yogi forms. Hindu communities hold Maha Shivaratri (The Great Night of Shiva), an annual celebration of Shiva.... Read more about The Great Night of Shiva

Rama, Sita, Hanuman

Rama Sita HanumanRama, Sita, and Hanuman are central, divine characters in the Ramayana. Rama is both worshipped and admired as a righteous king and a fully human incarnation of Lord Vishnu. During a Rama Navami Celebration, Rama's birth is celebrated and his wedding to Sita is reenacted. Families with daughters of marriageable age serve as sponsors for the divine wedding, which is also a chance to pray for the good marriage of their daughters in the future.
... Read more about Rama, Sita, Hanuman

Ganesha: the Lord of Beginnings

Ganesha the Lord of BeginningsGanesha is a prominent Hindu Deity worshipped as the “Lord of Beginnings” and the “Remover of Obstacles.” Ganesha’s image is represented by a human body with the head of an elephant, usually pictured carrying a book with a broken tusk as the pen. Ganesha’s shrine can be found near the entrance or in the center of a shrine.... Read more about Ganesha: the Lord of Beginnings

Lamp Offerings: Hindu Worship

Lamp OfferingsThe offerings in puja reflect five elements of the universe: earth (represented by fragrant sandalwood paste), water, space (represented by mantras and chants), wind (represented by the wafting of wind or air), and fire (represented by an arati or oil lamp offering). After prayers and consecration by the priest, these elements are shared with the worshippers.... Read more about Lamp Offerings: Hindu Worship