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Claudia Ciesla’s announcement of her interest in converting to Hinduism is a heartening sign. Hindu society should welcome her into our fold with affection and provide her a place of dignity in the 1 billion strong Hindu community. We must leave behind rigid orthodoxy in such cases to allow brand Hinduism to grow stronger in the West. There are many others like Claudia who are equally interested in converting to Hinduism but they fear retribution from the Church.
There are others who shy away from the Hindu identity because of the negative stereotyping in the English language media. So, many of them live by Hindu philosophy and traditions but avoid the label and the stigma assocated with it. This is a great disadvantage for Hindu society. We musthave a systematic programme of brand building for Hinduism in western countries and provide social support to any person who sincerely wishes to convert to Hinduism, irrespective of the convert’s past background.
Buddhism is today the fastest growing religion in the West, according to survey reports. Buddhism, luckily, does not suffer from the image problem and its practices which are similar to Christian rituals have been of great appeal to disillusioned Christians. But, Hinduism is richer and more profound in terms of ritual and philosophy, so there is no reason why Hinduism should not aim to become the fastest growing and largest faith in the world.