World Religions in California-Hinduism
I always had a predilection to learn about the Hindu religion, and the prevailing controversy concerning the portrayal of Hindu religion as a caste system in California, as well as the class assignment that required us to learn about a new religion, triggered my curiosity to explore the religion. I visited the Malibu Hindu Temple in Calabasas, California. I was modestly dressed in the typical Indian attire and when I got to the place, I took off my shoes upon entrance to the temple as this was not only a prerequisite, but also, a sign of respect to their beliefs (Veylanswami, par. 1). There were two doors of entry; one for males and another for females; I used the one designated for my gender. There was nothing ceremonial in the temple, therefore, few people were present. The place was serene and gorgeously magnificent. I spent an hour inside the temple before I met a peer who took me through the fundamentals of this religion.
Hinduism is a religious minority in the United States with very few American converts. In California, there are multiple Hindu temples launched at different times since the Asian immigrants were officially permitted to settle in America. The temples are constructed according to Shilpa Shatra in Chola design of temple architecture. The art of designing temples is taught to the disciples by the guru or traditionally inherited from father to son. The Malibu Hindu Temple was built in 1981 for main deity of Lord Venkateshwara, and has numerous shrines for other deities (Malibu Hindu Temple, par. 2). The magnificent temple was designed by the famous architect Muthiah Sthapathi from India. The Indian artisans, known as Shilpis, did the brick veneer work and sculptural plastering of the largest and most authentic temple in the western hemisphere. The temple has two presiding deities; the upper w/Lord Venkateshwara and the lower w/Lord Shiva, and the temple grounds where the priests reside (Malibu Hindu Temple, par. 2).
The temple is opened on daily basis and people go there to pray, meditate and do personal worship (Veylanswami, par. 7). There were numerous statutes painted with vibrant colors behind the security gates and inside the Malibu temple. Silence and tranquility filled the hall and a sweet fragrance of incense emanated from all corners creating an aura of spirituality. My host and I sat on the floor with our legs crossed. I observed some people stuffed in an inner room; I assumed that they were monks, priests or volunteers. They poured gallons of milk on what was apparently, a cow statute. I leaned that a cow was a sacred animal in the Indian religious worship (socialstudies.com, par 4).
I toured the shrines for Rama, Laxman, Sita, Hanuman, Sri Andal, and Krishna and Radha, and stopped to worship at each one of them; however, I did not see inside (Veylanswami, par. 5). The Hindu trinity consisted of Brahma (God the Creator), Shiva (the giver and destroyer of life), and Vishnu (the preserver) (Religionfacts.com, par.1). The priests were very friendly and welcoming. They preached well in English language that made outsiders like me to feel accommodated. One priest came inside the main temple and conducted a short prayer service before we were served with delicious vegetarian lunch plates and snacks in the bottom floor cafeteria at a fee. Meat was conspicuously absent in the food. I learnt that all Hindus are devoted vegetarians because they believe that eating animal meat will bring them bad Karma since animals have feelings just like humans. They also believe in reincarnation (Jayaram, par.1).
The visit was an eye-opening experience since it made me appreciate diversity. I found a new perspective of the world’s religions, the connection between divinity and morality and the different ways that people worship God (Religionfacts, par.1). I felt humbled by the Indian humility despite the classy vehicles that they parked at the parking lot. Hindus believe that just like all streams and rivers flow to the same ocean, all genuine religions lead to the worship of every form of GOD. I will visit the place again.
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