Changes In Hinduism Essay, Research Paper
The New Changes In Hinduism
Studies and observations diasporic communities have became quite important in recent years. Diaspora is a term given to a group of individuels who have moved away from their mother country and established themselves in a new country. This new country is different from their orignial country. The word diaspora was associated with the Jewish people, because they were dispersed and lived outside of thier homeland because of religions or other reasons. The term diaspora is no longer only assoziated to the Jews. There have been other diaspora’s like the African diaspora, or the Palestinion diaspora, but especially in regards to this essay, the departure of many Hindus from India has resulted in the Indian diaspora. There have been many studies on the relationship between religious practices in India and other countries. This essay will argue in favor of how Hindus, from the Indian diaspora, are likely to evolve and develop a from of Hinduism, that may be siqnificantly, different from that practiced in India. Hindus from diasporic communities develop their own mythologyies, and differences in practice of religion, when compared to the beliefs and religions practices are evolved Hindus living in India. The old religions traditions and practices are4 evolved and transformed in a manner which fit the Hindus new society. Several times the Hindus have no choise but to allow changes to occur, an example is the practice of the death ritual.
To start off the first large group of Hindus to immigrate into Canada arrived in the 1960’s. They established themselves in large cities like Toronto or Vancouver. Since the 60’s the number of Indians specifically Hindus has risen. According to a 1991 censns, the Hindu population had grown towards 157,010. This was around a decade ago, which means that Hindu population will grow rapidly through childbirth, and continued immigration. (p.38)
The Canadian and American society practiced Christian rituals and beliefs which caused the Hindus to enconnter problems when it came towards their religions practices. The Hindu practices and beliefs are not followed by many other individuals living outside of India. The different society with its own religion and customs, caused the Hinus to experience difficulties in following their religion. Several Hindus which came to Canada had a strong identify of how it was to be a Hindu.
Several festivals and rituals like marriages and deaths were celebrated and performed in a huge manner in India, but in North America the Hindus found it very difficult to practice it. The Hindus united together and built their own temple, in order to practice thier religion. “In the 1970’s issues surrounding marriage and death in Canada led Hindu groups to begin to think of erecting temples.” (p.39). The establishment of Hindu temples was a way of perserving the Hindu beliefs and practices which were passed on from one generation to another. Hindus did attempt to maintain Hinduism as followed in India, but because of certain circumstances Hinduism in North America began to from differently.
An example of change in Hinduism in a diasporic community is the performance of the death ritual. In India the dead body would be carried by a circle of close friends. The body would be placed directly on the pyre, covered with gher (butter). The cremation would be performed outside in front of friends and family. The eldest son of the decreased person would take the fire and ignite the pyre.
In Canada and other diasporic communities, the Hindu death lacks the symbolic actions which are present in India. In Canada, as well as other countries I suppose, the Hindu family and friends gather around the body at a funrral home for the cremation. There is no pyre, but instead the body is placed in a casket which is cremated in a furnace. ” The natural symbolism of ghee, with all its surrounding imagery from the hearth, and table to pyre is broken and with it, the immediacy of the symbolic connections ’showing’ the integration of the deceased with the devine.” (p.43). As practiced in India the Hindus don’t witness the body being burned by the fire (agni). The eldest son doesn’t ignite the fire on the dead body. The man incharge of the funneral home is responsible for the burning. “The elder son no longer physically lights the fire; this process falls to the funeral director, who pushes a button to ignite the flames in the cremation chamber.” (p.43).
According to a article titled, ‘ The Hindu Diaspora in Western Canada,’ the death ritual in a diasporic society loses its symbolic power to interpret death as Hindus in India iinterpret it. The act of imagination is taken away in death rituals in diasporic communities. The diasporic communities doesn’t see the smoke from the fire which is produced when the dead body is burned. The visual experience of the death ritual is lost in diasporic communities. ” Hindu rituals surrounding death are experiencing loss of power and meaning. (p.44). The death ritual is an important part of Hinduism, which has evolved into a practice which is different from that practiced in India. If it were to be observed by Hindus from India they would not find it approriated. This new pattern of Hinduism is observed by the second generation of Hindus, who learn to acccept it. Their identity as a Hindu is not as strong as their parents. For them the death ritual hasn’t lost many symbolic elements because they are not familiar with the death ritual in India. The second and third generation of Hindus became so accustomed to the death ritual, that they may start believing that the practice, watching the relatives dead body burn, may be harsh.