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Ask the Religion Experts


Question: Are your parishioner numbers growing or dwindling, and is that a concern?



Radhika Sekar, Citizen Special


Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008




A: According to the Census 2001 report, there are 297,200 Hindus in Canada. However, the Association for Canadian Studies estimated that by 2006 the Hindu population grew to 372,500.

The Hindu population continues to grow and new temples are emerging all over the country. In the last decade alone, three new temples were established in Ottawa, bringing the capital region's total to four. Participation at these institutions is reportedly active and increasing, so it would seem that Canadian Hindus have no cause for concern.

But this is not necessarily the case. It has been observed that it is mainly the older generation of Indian-born Hindus and new immigrants from India who participate in temple activities. While there are always plenty of young children at temple events, their numbers decline as they grow into youth.



Dr. Radhika Sekar has a PhD in Religious Studies (Ottawa University)



This observation is supported by a study conducted by the Religious Studies Department of the University of Ottawa, which indicates that second-generation Hindus, i.e., those born or brought up here, are less likely to visit temples, except to be married, and confess to not being able to relate to Hindu rituals.

Now this apathy is certainly reason for concern, for the future of our institutions is in their hands.

But it is more than mere buildings that are at stake here.

The essence of Hinduism is the inner quest towards the realization of the Divine.

Rather than enforcing rigid dogma, Hinduism has always encouraged 'self' growth and has developed unique techniques of prayer and meditation -- techniques that are recognized and eagerly appropriated by non-Hindus -- towards that aim. Unless we provide our youth with these alternatives, i.e., options that they can relate with, we will not only lose them, but worse, they will miss out on their rich spiritual heritage.

Radhika Sekar has a PhD in Religious Studies and taught Hinduism at Carleton University for several years. She is a disciple of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

- - -

Ask the Religion Experts is compiled by Linda Denley. Write to the experts, c/o The Ottawa Citizen, 1101 Baxter Rd., Ottawa, Ont., K2C 3M4 or e-mail experts@thecitizen.canwest.com

Read them online: Replies from the Citizen's religion experts can also be read at ottawacitizen.com. Look for Ask the Religion Experts under Current Features.



© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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