Murti: The Image of God

Murti the Image of GodCreating images of Gods in Hinduism is not as simple as carving stones to resemble their supposed likeness. Multiple ritual steps are involved: bathing the stone with sacred water and, most importantly, the carving/opening of the Divine eye and the establishing of breath.... Read more about Murti: The Image of God

Consecration: Kumbhabhishekam

Consecration KumbhabhishekamKumbhabhishekam is a Hindu temple consecration ceremony that involves sprinkling (abhishekam) the temple with sacred waters brought in a water pot (kumbha). The consecration ceremony takes several days and begins with honoring Ganesha and praying to the Earth (bhumi puja). The central events take place in a large tent by the temple and include a fire altar ceremony, offerings of words and goods, and a closing ceremony, purnahuti or completion. ... Read more about Consecration: Kumbhabhishekam

Building a Temple

Building a TempleBuilding temples is especially important for first-generation Hindu immigrants in the United States who want their children and grandchildren to know Hindu teachings and values. Although choosing sites is a challenge, Hindu communities tend to emphasize transportation accessibility (nearby highways) and the natural beauty of the locations (hillsides and hilltops).... Read more about Building a Temple

Home Altar

Home AltarThere are many variations of Hindu rituals at home, but the home altar remains an important part of American Hindu households. The home altar can be a place for studying scripture, performing puja, gathering a small Hindu community, and celebrating holidays or special events, such as marriages.... Read more about Home Altar

American Hinduism

American HinduismThe number of Hindu temples in the United States has grown rapidly in the last decades, creating a landscape of varied expressions and structures within American Hinduism that parallels both the sites and histories of India and the value of pluralism in the United States.... Read more about American Hinduism

The Temple Builders

The Temple BuildersHindu “temple societies” were non-profit associations dedicated to building the first generation of temples in the United States. The first Hindu temples were built in the 1970s. The organizations behind the temples blended Hindu traditions with American values like volunteerism.... Read more about The Temple Builders

The New Hindu Immigrants

The New Hindu ImmigrantsIncreasing numbers of students and professionals immigrated from diverse regions in India during the 1960s and 70s. Once in the United States, they often formed associations based on their regional origins—associations that later became the basis for collaborations between different immigrant groups.... Read more about The New Hindu Immigrants

The Rush of Gurus

The Rush of GurusThe 1960s and 1970s mark the popularity of the guru or swami movement in the United States. In the late 1960s and 1970s, new streams of Hindu religious life came to the United States with the arrival of new gurus or spiritual teachers. ... Read more about The Rush of Gurus

Yogananda and American Yoga

Yogananda and American YogaParamahansa Yogananda was a Hindu teacher who came to America to attend the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston in 1920, and stayed to found a religious movement. Yogananda promoted yoga as an intersection of science and religion that emphasized the mind-body relationship. Yogananda wrote The Autobiography of a Yogi, which was published in 1946; at the time of his passing in 1952, his organization the Self-Realizaiton Fellowship was the most prominent Hindu organization in the United States.... Read more about Yogananda and American Yoga

The Vedanta Society

The Vedanta SocietySwami Vivekananda opened the first American Vedanta Society in New York in 1894, and the second Vedanta Society in San Francisco in 1899. Vivekananda’s teachings through these societies focused on Vedanta and on yoga practice. The Vedanta society contributed to yoga’s later rise in popularity.... Read more about The Vedanta Society

Vivekananda at the Parliament

Vivekananda at the ParliamentSwami Vivekananda, a Hindu religious reformer who spoke in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, made an impression in America as one of the first Hindus to speak for his own religious tradition before a large audience. Vivekananda traveled across the country and spoke in various public and religious contexts, including two speaking engagements at Harvard.... Read more about Vivekananda at the Parliament

Trade and Transcendentalism

Trade and TranscendentalismHindu influence in the United States likely started with trading ships that traveled between ports in India and New England in the early 19th century. Prominent transcendentalist writers and thinkers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, were also influenced by Hindu teachings and sacred texts.... Read more about Trade and Transcendentalism

The Hindu Diaspora

The Hindu DiasporaToday Hinduism is practiced and reinterpreted all over the world. There are Hindus in South Africa and East Africa, in Trinidad and Mauritius, in Australia and Austria, in the United Kingdom and in the United States.... Read more about The Hindu Diaspora

Dharma: The Social Order

Dharma The Social OrderDharma is a concept of social order and duty that sustains the whole universe. A person’s placement in a caste (varna) and birth group (jati) is one element of dharma. Jati is historically also used to determine social interactions and marriages, as dharma guides every aspect of daily life. ... Read more about Dharma: The Social Order