That's the only thing we can leave behind, right? Our ancestors gave us such a rich heritage. Right now everybody's talking about yoga and paranayam and karma. It came all from my culture, from my country.... I'm proud to be who I am, and I'm proud to be where I am.
- Veena Khandelwal
Hinduism is the most widespread of India's six major religious beliefs. In Charlotte, just as in India, Hindu believers have small home altars for daily worship.
When business owners Guna and Rai Kommareddi moved to Charlotte in 1992, Guna set up the family altar in a small room that faced east, to salute the rising sun. Every day, family members chant, pray and meditate at the altar, and in the sunlight outside.
Hindu rituals focus on the many aspects of the Hindu Lord, as well as the five elements that make up the universe: water, earth, air, fire and ether or space. These are represented in the Hindu altar.
Important parts of a Hindu altar include:
- Images of deities, which represent different aspects of the original Lord.
- Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita (the Hindu Scripture), and Radha, his eternal counterpart.
- A container for water, used to cleanse and purify.
- Sandalwood paste (earth), offered to the deities as a symbol of the body.
- Incense (air), whose aroma purifies the surroundings and creates a pleasing atmosphere.
- Small lamps (fire), which produce the light of knowledge.
- Flowers (ether), which mark the exchange of love and respect with the Lord.
- A bell, whose "ohm" sound calls to the Lord, while awakening and focusing the believer's senses.
* List of altar items created by Hindu Center of Charlotte.