To help me get inspiration and keep up with what’s happening in my world I have some Google alerts set up. One is for the term “American Hindu.” Over the years that I’ve had this alert, nearly all the time it comes up the phrase “American Hindu” is referring to one particular person. This man seems to have a statement for the press about any and everything that happens related to Hinduism in America. I’ve found it pretty funny to see if it’s going to be him. Every time I get an alert I think, “Will the pattern hold? Is it *the* American Hindu?”
His name is Rajan Zed. According to Google Alerts I think he might be the only American Hindu (just kidding, of course).
I decided to learn more about this spokesman for the American Hindu community.
Turns out he is the one who gave the the first official Hindu prayer at the United States Senate. I remember that vaguely, though I don’t think I was aware of all the protests about it. Darn people who have no problem with Christian prayers at the Senate, but try to open it up to other faiths in America and they lose their minds.
These people are really into saying what the founding fathers must have meant and would have thought, etc. Even though the founding fathers of America valued freedom of religion and allowing people to practice whatever they believed, there are all these people now who want to put words in their mouths and claim that they know they intended for just Christians to be protected. Hogwash. America was founded on diversity. And on the freedom to live your life as you saw fit. The founding fathers would be in favor of representing Hindus (I say with as much confidence as those people!)I’m distressed by an attitude I’m seeing more and more lately (and one that I think is very strong in the Trump-supporting America) that white Christians are the “real” Americans and they graciously allow the rest of us to live here. But it is not true. America does not belong to white Christians. I have ancestors from the south pre-Civil War. I am as American as any of them. My husband’s ancestors arrived on the Mayflower. We are not Christian and we are fully American. It is our America too.
Okay, to get back to the point. Rajan Zed is always there to explain Hinduism and give a Hindu point of view when the media asks for it (and even when they don’t). He’s always there to comment on anything that affects Hindus in America.
No company can make a pair of underwear with Sri Ganesha’s face on it without hearing from our Mr. Zed! No company can make a video game with a Devi skin option without hearing from Mr. Zed.
It seems I am not the only one who has noticed that you can’t say “American Hindu” without finding Rajan Zed: http://www.jocalling.com/2008/09/rajan-zed-on-a-promotional-spree/
I don’t know where he came from but he has made himself, if not the only then probably the loudest, voice for Hinduism in America. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. His declarations of what Hindus think suggests that he speaks for all Hindus in America and that we all agree! On the other hand, I like knowing we have someone who is tireless in hunting down every possible offense against Hindus and making people aware. I think too often non-Hindus think of us as an ancient religion that isn’t really around much anymore and that is far from the case! So Rajan Zed is there to remind them anytime they start using our symbols and faith without considering the feelings of Hindus.