Ashwin Krushna Saptami, Kaliyug Varsha 5111
One Sunday afternoon at the Sri Ganesha Temple in Bellevue, the air was filled with the sounds of prayer and laughter.
Two dozen worshippers stood near the shrine of Lord Ganesha, their hands clasped in reverence as a priest chanted in Sanskrit. Other devotees celebrated the festival of Navarati, a nine-day event honoring the mother goddess Shakti for triumphing over evil. Not far away, a silent worshipper prayed before Sri Parvati, another deity.
All the while, children could be heard playing on the temple's lower level. That brought a smile to Sahi Denduluri's face.
"I was raised very religiously — we went to temple every Sunday," said Denduluri, who's a pre-med student at Vanderbilt. "Those little kids running around downstairs — that was me."
A group of eight Vanderbilt students visited the temple recently, to pray and to take part in a discussion on reincarnation. The visit was organized by Vandy Karma, one of the university's newest student groups.
It's part of a national trend among second-generation Hindu students who meet for discussions of theology, religious holidays and trips to local temples. Unlike their parents, who learned the faith by immersion in their home country, these students have to learn to practice Hinduism in a mostly Christian culture.
2nd Generation's Challenges
The number of American Hindus has grown steadily since 1965, when immigration laws were reformed, allowing more people from Asia to come to the United States. There are between 1.5 million and 2 million Hindus in this country, said Anantanand Rambachan, chair of the religion department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Rambachan spoke about the challenges facing American Hindus to a gathering of religion reporters at a Minnesota Hindu temple in mid-September.
Most first-generation Hindus were immersed in Hinduism in their families and Indian culture. That's not true for their children.
"Our children are growing up in a competitive religious culture," Rambachan said. "So, how do you pass on your faith?"
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