Festivities in a new temple dedicated to the Indian monkey god Hanuman in Frisco, Texas, earlier this month remind us that a minority of religions exists within the shores of the United States that is relatively silent. The faith that is the subject here, of course, is Hinduism, which in that North Texas town, at least, is enjoying an “expanding population,” according to theDallas Morning News. Despite the fact that Indians have been quietly enriching the American melting pot for decades to centuries, few non-Indians know much about the colorful religion of Hinduism.
In actuality, the term “Hinduism” represents not a monolithic faith but a conglomeration of more or less varied religions, sects and cults largely originating on the Indian subcontinent and often incorporating beliefs, doctrines and traditions dating back several thousand years. What we perceive of as “Hinduism,” then, encompasses and embraces a wide variety of beliefs, to the extent that even recent icons such as Elvis Presley, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa have reputedly made it into the extensive Hindu pantheon of a traditional “333 million” deities, demigods and saints, etc.