HONOLULU, HAWAII, October 10, 2004: Hinduism's presence in Oahu's faith community is not easy to find. On an island where Buddhist temples are often found on thoroughfares and interspersed with Catholic and Protestant churches, and where Shinto shrines and Taoist temples are often set along the main drags, you have to go to the Neighbor Islands to see a Hindu temple. Despite the current exhibit at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and despite the fact that the Islands are the publishing home to a major magazine for the English-speaking Hindu world (the color glossy Hinduism Today, with editorial offices on Kauai) the world's oldest faith group has barely registered on Hawai'i's religion Richter scale, says this article.
Some of Hawai'i's Hindus agree that the religion is not highly visible. And what there is tends to be splintered into different groups. "(Hinduism) is 10,000 things under one big umbrella. It's an amazingly complex conglomerate," said Paramacharya Palaniswami, editor of Hinduism Today (and HPI). "...That's true of Hindus historically and Hinduism around the world. The whole history is dispersal." No one knows for sure how many Hindus make Hawai'i their home. While the Census tabulates ethnicity, it does not ask about religion. Figures from 2000 show a little more than 1,400 people who list themselves as Asian/Indian in the Islands. S. Ramanathan speculated that many of them are academics and their families, and expects about 80 to 90 percent of those to be Hindu. "(Hindus) don't have to go to temple," said Ramanathan, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. "Almost all Indian families have their own place at home for worship."
Some of the Hawai'i groups that are under the Hindu umbrella are: The LOTUS (Lord of the Universe Society) group which holds a monthly ceremony at the Healing Stone in Wahiawa to honor God Siva and the Vedanta Society. On Kauai, the San Marga Iraivan Temple is being built stone by stone, each block of granite imported from India. "We're creating a living entity," Paramacharya Palaniswami said, adding that the temple will require six or seven more years for completion. For more information about Hawai'i's Hindu groups, click on "source" above.