Okay that was an awful pun. But I stand by it. But, moving on:
In the most recent issue of Hinduism Today the editors take us on a tour of some of the hotspots in the Hindu diaspora in Europe. The one that is particularly eye-catching is the Czech Republic on page 23. According to the short article, in this fairly non-religious Eastern European nation of about 10 million citizens, there dwell about 10,000 Hindus. Or at least 10,000 members of the Czech Hindu Religious Society. What is interesting about this? Well, while in the other European countries surveyed, the Hindu populations were largely made up of immigrants from India and various other nations, or refugees from war-torn Bali or Nepal and Afghanistan, an amazing 99% of the Czech Republic’s Hindu population are locals, of Czech descent.
The one thing that was suspect, or just muddied the waters for me was that the article says they “know about Hindu culture and religion, yoga and vegetarianism.” And as I have written before that does not necessarily make a person a Hindu. Similar traits could be attributed to the “Orientalist Societies” of the 18th century Western world. But the article does say these 99% “declare themselves to be Hindu.” So there you have it. I would never take away an individual’s right to label him/herself as wished, so therefore they are Hindus.
But I’d like to reach out to these 10,000 people in the Czech Republic and survey them myself and ask them what it is about the spiritual conditions there which lead .1 percent of the population to become Hindu? In the United States, .4% of the population is Hindu, but it is hard to say what percentage of them are locals, i.e. non-South Asian and non-South African in descent.
I am interested to know why it is that the conditions in the Czech Republic seem to be right for the nurturing and growth of a local dharma population. Please feel free to give an account in detail if you have had experience or insight into this unique hub of European Hinduism. Certainly such a statistic is promising for Hinduism in the Western world. Being of a religious minority myself in the U.S., I am curious. What sects and/or practices are prevalent. Hinduism Today left me with many questions.
Jai Hari Aum