While there have been efforts to encourage dialogues and cooperation between Hindu and Neopagan groups and leaders as common “indigenous” religions, the project has not had much success (with Hindu critics charging that the two religions have as many differences as similarities; see October, 2001 RW).
But now Neopagan practitioners have taken matters into their own hands, forming their own “IndoPagan” rites and communities. An article in the Pagan journal PanGaia (Spring) reports that various Neopagans were worshipping and venerating various Hindu gods and goddesses privately for 20 years before they began to recognize and organize themselves, largely through the Internet.
In an informal survey distributed to Indo-Pagans, writer Devi Spring finds that Hindu deities have not been popular in Neopagan or New Age circles, largely because American practitioners usually venerate the European deities related to their own ethnic backgrounds. Among IndoPagans there is a wide variety of practices and views on adopting Hindu practices. Some try to separate Hindu rituals from Indian culture and practices. Others adopt such Indian Hindu practices as ritual worship known as Puja, which is conducted in Sanskrit.
The need for an authorized Hindu clergy for the performing of rituals is also a divisive issue among IndoPagans. But IndoPagans are said to be creating a viable subculture, with websites providing resources (such as at: http://indopaganproject.tripod.com) and communities such as SHARANYA, The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission in San Francisco, which holds rituals and study groups and provides clergy training.
(Pan Gaia, 207 Main St., Point Arena, CA 95468-0641)