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#72247 - 03/06/06 07:38 AM struggles facing converts
Siham Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 10
Loc: WA, USA
Namaste

After much study and contemplation, I made the decision to convert to Hinduism several months ago. However, I just began telling my family members yesterday. (They all live on the other side of the USA) I was shocked at my mother's response. Though she believes in the Christian concept of God, she has lived a very secular life. I won't repeat what she said because it is stereotypical and offensive. But I would like to ask all of you who have converted about similar problems you have faced. Please share your experiences and thoughts.

I would like to say thank you in advance to anyone who responds. I feel like I am very alone right now...my husband is in Iraq, all my family is back east, my best friend just got tranferred to another base, and so far I have been too shy to go to the nearest temple!

I don't mean to sound desperate. I just want someone to talk to about Hinduism...

Kristina

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#72248 - 03/07/06 03:13 AM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: Siham]
chakradhari Offline
seeker

Registered: 02/23/06
Posts: 54
Loc: NJ,USA
i am not a convert. dont be shy to go to temple. this is common mistakes i have seen many americans do. just put your leg forward. you wont regret. no body is going to embarass you, nobody is going to give you strange looks. just feel comfortable and be yourself. good luck for your husband in iraq.

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#72249 - 03/07/06 05:31 AM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: chakradhari]
Siham Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 10
Loc: WA, USA
Thank you, Chakradhari. I appreciate your encouragement. Yours are the first kind words I have received so far. I will take that first step and go to the local temple. I am longing for some guidance and I hope I find it there. Thank you also for the kind wishes for my husband.

Kristina

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#72250 - 03/08/06 02:56 AM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: Siham]
chakradhari Offline
seeker

Registered: 02/23/06
Posts: 54
Loc: NJ,USA
Kristina, if you want to know anything post it here or if you want to talk thru internet i can give you my chat id or email. i am also keen on getting to know western hindus.

i read your introductory post that you stumbled on hinduism six months back. quite interesting you changed your mind so quick.

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#72251 - 03/08/06 10:28 PM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: Siham]
chakradhari Offline
seeker

Registered: 02/23/06
Posts: 54
Loc: NJ,USA
kristina, if you want more discussions, we can do chat on yahoo or aol or msn. let me know if you wanna.

thanks,
chakradhari

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#72252 - 03/10/06 03:59 AM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: chakradhari]
Siham Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 10
Loc: WA, USA
Thank you, Chakradhari. I think I will take you up on that offer.

As far as me changing my mind so quick, my math was a little off there. Since I graduated and became a stay at home mother, the months go so quickly. Its actually been a year now that I have been learning about Hinduism. For me, its not so much a matter of me changing my mind. Rather, I allowed myself to think outside of the "Catholic box" and found that my personal beliefs were not in line with Catholicism. Once I realized my true feelings I felt that I could no longer belong to a church that feels it holds the monopoly on God.

I began to study several different religions and found that my beliefs fit with Hinduism. Still, it took me quite a while to accept that I was studying in order to convert. And even longer to tell others. I don't think that one should take conversion lightly. I still think that I have a lot of learning to do before taking formal steps.

Anyway, I will send you an email with my yahoo and msn ids. I look forward to chatting with you.

Kristina

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#72253 - 03/11/06 04:14 AM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: Siham]
chakradhari Offline
seeker

Registered: 02/23/06
Posts: 54
Loc: NJ,USA
Kristina, for some reason your post didnt show up for long time. this forum is slightly slow.

i am glad to know that you did your research. how do you manage it with your husband. is he ok with you being a hindu?

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#72254 - 06/18/06 01:40 AM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: Siham]
dhruva Offline
stranger

Registered: 06/12/06
Posts: 18
Loc: US
Ji Namaste, Siham.

(I hope this isn't completely too late)

I was in a similar situation. I "converted" to Hinduism about 3 years ago. There are some problems that you will have to face, but really, the positives are infinitely greater than some of the annoyances.

First, my mother was also very critical of Hinduism and my decision to be a Hindu. I don't know your relatives and how they are reacting, but from what I've experienced and from what I've heard, this should not have any long-lasting significant affect on your family relationship. They should and probably will learn to accept it and move on. Secondly, your mother is probably very ill-informed about Hinduism, so just take it in stride, don't worry about it and make sure to inform her or correct her about Hinduism at every relevant opportunity. When she starts to learn more about it, she'll become far more comfortable with it.

To me, this last dilemna is probably the hardest, so if you get through dealing with the concerns of your family members, you're done with the worst of it all.

OK, going to a temple for the first time is very daunting and not something that is easy. I've totally been there before, and I remember how it felt. However, if you remember a few things it should come much easier, and once you get used to it, you won't be intimidated.

When you go to a Hindu temple, keep in mind that most Hindus are not used to seeing non-Indians there. It's not that they don't appreciate them, it's just a novelty, something that doesn't happen everyday, so you'll naturally draw some attention. The one thing to remember is: don't worry about it. Just concentrate on what you're doing and remember that they mean no animosity. Really, once they see that you know what you're doing and that you're genuine, they'll be pleasantly surprised and complimentary.

Now you might want to go during a time where there isn't a really big thing happening. If you would like, it might be easier to go during hours which aren't busy. Another thing you could try is to go with another Hindu you know. However, the best thing you can do is simply observe others. You'll start to see the basic process and practice of doing something, and then you can do it your own way after you get used to it (you'll probably see many ways of doing the same thing).

First thing you need to do is remember to take off your shoes. Next, keep in mind that if something goes in a circle, it goes clockwise, so people will make their way clockwise around the prayer room to pray to certain deities. Although I'm not sure about the specifics of your local temple, it should operate in roughly the same way. When you pray to a deity, what you want to do is have your hands in the "namaste" position (palms pressed together in the regular praying manner in front of your chest) and start to pray (which can entail anything you like). If you wish, you can prostrate yourself, which can be done in many ways, but I usually kneel (left knee down first...don't ask me why), then I put my hands down in front of me (left hand down first) for a second, and then I lower my forehead to the ground and then put my hands in the namaste gesture while in that position. You should first watch other people and how they pray, and then try it yourself.

If you get to a linga, which is a conical thing that sometimes has a metal thing hanging over it, you should take some water nearby (other people should be using the same water before you), pour it onto it, then take some of the water which drips down in the front and put it onto your lips/forehead/hair/heart or any combination thereof. That can be tough, so make sure you watch others do it.

There's more stuff that you'll observe and encounter, but that should get you through the basics. If you have any questions, please ask me.

Believe me, it can be kind of hard sometimes, but it's an amazing feeling when you get past the difficulties. I sometimes think that the difficulties make it even more exciting, because it seems like there's always something new (just last week I saw that someone put their right foot over their left as they prostrated themself, which I haven't noticed before). Remember that there are a ton of people who have been in the exact same position as you (myself included), so you're not alone by a longshot.

If there's anything else you want to talk about or say, I would love to hear it. I can't wait to hear how it's been going. Good luck, and remember two things Hindus have told me when I was starting out at a temple: It's a very forgiving religion, and you're never in the wrong place. All the best!

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#72255 - 06/25/06 02:39 PM Re: struggles facing converts [Re: Siham]
H.V. Shivadas Offline
initiate
****

Registered: 01/16/00
Posts: 140
Loc: USA
Kristina,

You have gotten some good advice here so far. Please do know that you are not alone. I am a convert myself, of sorts. My mother was a hindu from India, but my father was from Scotland. Both died when I was still an infant and I was adopted and raised by a cuban/italian family as a catholic. I was even a Catholic Priest for 7 years before I finally left the church in 1982 and returned to the eternal faith of my mother and embraced Hinduism, the dharma of my ancestors. As some others have told you, probably the biggest problem you will face is ignorance about Sanatana Dharma. The one thing I have found makes it easier when I speak to Christians about my decision to leave the church to embrace Hinduism is to say... "I only left the so-called Church, not my committment to the divine teachings of the man called Jesus. In fact, I am a better 'Christian' now that I am a 'Hindu' than I ever was before!"

You will find your struggle eases with time. Feel free to contact me or the others who have offered to share your experiences and difficulties with.

Hari OM!
_________________________
Hariharan Shivadas satyam nasti paro dharma!

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