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Opinion: Indians In America Are Moving Beyond Caste and Hinduism Is Part of the Solution

on 2020/10/26 12:39:43 ( 348 reads )


HOUSTON, TEXAS, October 21, 2020 (Houston Chronicle by Bharat Pallod): I grew up in Houston the son of Indian immigrants and now help run the Hindu Heritage Youth Camp. After largely ignoring it for over 30 years, for the past five years, we have included a session on caste -- the system of social divisions in India that was outlawed in India's constitution. Given that almost none of our campers actually know or understand their caste, it may appear odd we're even bringing attention to it. While our parents and grandparents did experience casteism in an older India, I've never seen it imparted on my generation. While these attitudes haven't been taught to us by our parents, non-Hindus increasingly tell us that casteism is something fundamental to our religion. If we don't correct them -- pointing out that for us casteism is not at all fundamental to our religion -- we're subject to it once again, rebuilding what past generations left behind.

The reality is that we often don't know our friends' castes. Instead we're just glad for the rare moments we come together, sharing a space as Indians. Today our events and institutions are a melting pot of Hindu practices, traditions and people. Our temples are run by priests from a variety of social backgrounds, and Hindus of Greater Houston, the umbrella group for Hindu organizations in Houston, says caste-based discrimination is not tolerated. Our denial of caste as a Hindu identity is not a denial of casteism as a problem, nor a denial of Hindus as part of the solution. Discrimination exists, but those who seek to truly eradicate it understand that Hinduism offers a solution.

More on this perspective at "source" above.

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Published: 2020/11/4 8:23  
While it's true we don't know our friends' castes if we look at the last names of most people attending Hindu temples or on boards of Hindu temples in the US, they are generally upper caste names. "Low" caste or "untouchables" generally have unique last names that are drastically different from the regular Patels, Singhs, Shahs, Rais, Reddy, etc. Such last names of people are usually from upper castes.
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