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Unformatted text preview: Hinduism, the primary indigenous religion of South Asia, claims to be the oldest living religion, calling itself 'santama dharma' or the 'eternal religion.' Its antiquity has prompted a vast array of interpretations and customs over the ages, all of which comprise Hinduism as a religion. It is for this reason that W. Crooke, an Indian historian, states: “ Among all the great religions of the world there is none more catholic, more assimilative, than the mass of beliefs which go to make up what is properly known as Hinduism .” But while its beliefs may be pervasive and multitudinous, its followers are even more so; for Hinduism is not only practiced significantly in the South Asian countries, but also has a large amount of inhabitants around the world. Thus, for example, fifty-two percent of the entire population of Mauritius practice Hinduism – amounting to a total of five-hundred and seventy-thousand adherents. The fact that Hinduism is practiced in these diverse environments across the world lends even more to its dynamic evolution as a religion . This essay will focus on the developments of Hinduism in Canada through analyzing the examples of many Hindu adherents, and demonstrating how Canada has facilitated this development through legislative policies such as the Act of Multiculturalism. In Canada, there are approximately 297,000 Hindus, most of whom have migrated from South Asia since the mid 1960s. Many first-generation Hindu immigrants continue to place importance on the maintenance of ritual practices ( called dharma ), as well as on the transmission of a wide range of traditional beliefs and values to the next generation. Several types of religious practices have been transferred and modified in Canada from the home setting including changes in religious practices and attitudes, the mediums through which first-generation immigrants are transmit ting their religion and culture to the new generation , and the expressions on the part of both generations about what constitutes the Hindu identity. Depending on the migrant adherent that one asks, Hinduism is seen as a religion that has been subtly or massively changed, or even remained unaltered, over time. Nevertheless, the opinions of Canadian Hindus regarding this issue should convey something of the variety of perspectives that exist in their community as they collectively struggle to retain or reconstruct their Hindu identity. As an example of one Hindu who envisions her religious practices as being modified, t ake , for example , a woman by the name of Sumanta, who describes how when her family moved to Canada, they often had to wait until the evening, when everyone returned from work and school, to perform the ' puja' , a religious ceremony involving the tying of protective threads on the wrists of children. B ack in India, however, the ‘ puja’ , always had to be done in the morning. This demonstrates one of the possibilities as a result of moving to Canada – a dynamic adjustment of religious rituals to suit the environment...
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2011 for the course CHM 2051 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Florida.
- Spring '08