Your First Visit to a Hindu Temple

The first time you visit a Hindu temple can be overwhelming or intimidating. Let me give you a rundown of what to expect so you’ll feel like a pro when you get there…

If you’d like to become a subscriber at the premium White Hindu blog, I have a lot more details there. Subscribers are also able to contact me about setting up a meeting with someone at a Hindu temple in their local area.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • TruthSeeker

    useful tips for beginners.

  • TruthSeeker

    it is good idea to have premium blog, but plz do not ignore your main blog.

    • Ambaa

      Definitely not planning to!

  • skyblue

    This was interesting, and reading it brought back a memory from high school, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts if you don’t mind. I think I was perhaps a rude temple visitor as a teenager many years ago (and if so, I am sorry):

    Down the street from our school was a Hindu temple. A (non-Hindu) friend of mine had visited with a Hindu friend, and enjoyed the visit, especially some food she’d had – I think it had yogurt and raisins? She told me about this tasty treat and asked if I’d go with her to buy some, the Hindu friend wasn’t around and she didn’t want to go alone.

    We took our shoes off, and put them in the cubicles like in the picture you posted. I saw the main hall of the temple and thought it was gorgeous but we didn’t go inside. We went over to an area where food was sold and bought some of what my friend was after. She was right, it was delicious. But, the woman who sold it was not particularly friendly and we were stared at quite obviously by almost everyone else there. My friend said she’d never go back without her Hindu friend and was upset afterwards.

    At the time, I thought “people are probably just wondering why some white teenagers are here”, but now, I wonder if we broke some rules or were otherwise bad guests, and people were just too polite to say something to us. Was the food we bought perhaps what you mention in your post, and meant to be used for religious purposes, not an after school snack for neighborhood kids?

    Hopefully thanks to the internet, nowadays, people can be more informed visitors to new and unfamiliar places!

    • Ambaa

      I don’t think you did anything wrong. Some people are more welcoming of strangers than others and my guess is she was wondering what you were doing there and how you knew about it. Sometimes our definitions of rude behavior can be different culturally too. Like in the West, staring is really rude. In India it’s not, from what I understand. If they were selling the food, I don’t see why you shouldn’t purchase some! Even if it was meant for ritual, could they have known that you were going to eat it as a snack? Often temples will sell prasadam after it has been offered to the Gods, so it’s wonderful to buy and eat that food!

    • Andrea

      A Hindu temple isn’t usually a place food is sold. If they were asking money for it, then it was not prasad that had been previously offered… could be that they were offering it for sale to use as an offering, and just taking it and eating it was indeed a faux pas. Not sure though. At all temples I’ve been to people will bring their own fruits or flowers if they do at all. Never seen anything sold. But my experience is limited.

      Staring isn’t always considered rude in Indian culture. White people at that temple may have been a novelty and people might have been curious. Sometimes people do get upset about you showing up without some kind of connection to the culture or religion. As has been discussed here, there are some who believe that Westerners cannot be Hindu at all so why would you be in a Hindu temple? Hinduism isn’t monolithic though and not everyone believes that way.

      • Ambaa

        Thanks for replying to this!

        I was sure I wrote a reply and now I don’t see it here!

  • Shesadri Sekhar Bagchi

    proposed ISKCON temple in mayapur. will bw built according to vedic architecture(sthapatya sastra)