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January 17 , 2009

The New Hindu Toolbox


When you convert to Judaism, there are classes. Same with Catholicism. In fact, most religions have a course to get you started. With Hinduism, you just have to muddle through yourself. You'll hear the vague "There are no converts to Hinduism" (which can mean either that the person considers you to already be Hindu if you're living a Hindu life or that you can't be no matter what you do).

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But that's not true. A large segment of Americans began practicing Hinduism in the 1960s and 70s. Areas around India such as Bali have native Hindu populations that had to have been converted at some point.

This booklet is here to hold your hand through the process of beginning your Hindu life. If you don't know where to get started, this booklet will guide you. If you have questions that a native Hindu has never experienced, you may find answers here.

The first part is an easy six-week guide to easing you into a local Hindu community and the second part is FAQs that converts have.

Who am I to write this guide? I am a non-Indian, American Hindu. I began identifying as a Hindu in 2004 and I've run a blog about the experience of being a non-Indian Hindu since 2009.

The Table of Contents for this booklet is as follows:

Easing In
Week One: A trip to the bookstore
Week Two: Bringing the Gods Home
Week Three: Learning to Pray
Week Four: Make Friends
Week Five: Enjoy a Festival
Week Six: Going to the temple
Words you should know
Basic principles of pronunciation
Dress Code
Cultural Tidbits
Forehead Marks: Bindi and Tilak
Do I have to be a vegetarian?
Will native Hindus be offended by me identifying as Hindu?
Can I or Should I take on aspects of Indian culture to go with Hinduism?
History and Your Place In It
How do I mark that I am a Hindu?
How to Feel Confident
Should I go through a conversion ritual? Is there such a ritual?
How Do I Talk To My Family?
Peace and Love?

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