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27 October 2009 @ 10:13 pm
Hinduism Presentation  

 
This Saturday Dan & I attended a wonderful presentation on Hinduism by Rev. Abhi Janamanchi at Unity Unitarian. He is a minister from a congregation in Clearwater, Florida. He started out discussing religious pluralism- he defined as not just plurality but an active engagement with pluralism in all settings, taking both similarities and differences into account. Unitarian Universalists, and other liberals tend to overemphasize similarities while downplaying differences between religions.
It is more than just "tolerance"- which really means "not being hostile". I know I'm guilty of throwing that word around, after absorbing it from hearing people talk about religious/racial etc. tolerance.
He had an interesting metaphor about how we should be spiritual tourists vs. spiritual pilgrims, exploring other traditions while being rooted in our own. This is something I try to do- respectfully taking insights and practices from other religions and adapting/reframing them to my own. It's a fine line though. Spiritual dabbling is a big problem among UUs, not just Pagans!

I knew some basic info about Hinduism from reading about religions in general but this was more in depth.
He also got into some of the differences between northern & southern India, showing the different styles of temples. Not surprisingly different gods are popular in different places, but also ritual is more elaborate in the south. He showed some pictures of gods, and temples including the one in Maple Grove, MN which is actually the largest in North America!
After hearing this I think I would like to learn more about Hinduism, and visit a temple (which I've been meaning to do for a while anyway, out of curiosity).

Dan commented that while he already knew much of the info about Hinduism itself he really appreciated hearing from a Hindu perspective
rather than yet another "white liberal" as he put it. One fact neither of us knew was that the taboo on eating beef actually came from a time when Muslims were ruling northern India, and Hindus decided to not eat beef to distinguish themselves from Muslims who don't eat pork.

He also had a couple friends with him who played Indian music- Nirmala, the lady had a really old instrument called a vena (vina?) and there was guy (don't remember name) who played drums. We got a sample of what Hindu worship is like, singing some hymns and chants. I found it quite beautiful and moving.

On Sunday we went to the service to hear him preach. His sermon was about dealing with the difficulties of being caught between various religions, cultures and class/castes. His father was a lower-caste Muslim & mother a high-caste Hindu. Then add to that the awkwardness of being UU, an overwhelmingly white denomination, a Hindu and a UU minister in the Indian-American community, not just because UUism is pretty unknown among them but there aren't very many ministers either!
Though we enjoyed the sermon, we were disappointed because we thought there would be more Indian music and there wasn't. Oh well. Very glad to have him and the other folks at Unity.


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