For Educators

On Being Hindu … and American – Procedures For Teachers

PrepPreparing for the lesson
StepsConducting the lesson
ExtensionAdditional Activities


Media Components

R&E videos connected to segments listed below.

Computer Resources

  • computers with Internet access
  • LCD projector and projection screen

Print Resources

Brodd, Jeffrey. WORLD RELIGIONS: A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 2003.

Eck, Diana. A NEW RELIGIOUS AMERICA. New York: HarperOne, 2002.

Flood, Gavin. AN INTRODUCTION TO HINDUISM. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Geaves, Ron. KEY WORDS IN HINDUISM. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2006.

Hemenway, Priya. HINDU GODS: THE SPIRIT OF THE DIVINE. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2003.

Knott, Kim. HINDUISM: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

Media Resources

“Teaching the World’s Religions”
DVD on world religions, including several episodes on Hindu holidays and worship. To request a copy of this free DVD, e-mail your mailing address and school affiliation to

Web Resources

(In addition to transcripts and video, most of the R&E Web pages listed below also include links to additional related resources and related reading.)


    • “American Made”
      Film about a fictional Sikh American family that touches upon the conflict between faith and freedom, assimilation, and modernization — themes that immigrants continue to struggle with when re-creating family in a new world.
    • “The New Americans”
      Series about a diverse group of immigrants and refugees who leave their homes and families behind and learn what it means to be new Americans in the 21st century.




  • student graphic organizers
  • chart paper and markers
  • sticky notes, largest size or large index cards with adhesive <!–don’t know what these are?
  • teacher documents (detailed in lesson)–>

Teacher Preparation

Preview the lesson plan’s R&E videos and transcripts (particularly for segments without video) and related online content before presenting them to your class. Decide whether the class will view the entire video or specific segments (others than those noted in the lesson) you select to expand lesson concepts and topics.

Bookmark relevant Web sites on each computer in your classroom, and/or create a handout that lists recommended sites and resources that supplement the lesson; or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility, such as, so that students can access the information on these sites. Make sure that your computer has the necessary media players, like RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, to show streaming clips (if applicable).

If desired, provide students with background on Hinduism.


Introductory Activity: Somewhere New: Changes We Might Make
(one classroom period)

Ask students to think about how a move to a different country might affect their lives. (Students may also work in small groups.) Pose either or both of the following discussion questions:

  • How might their lives be different? (things that would change)
  • What might they do to adjust to this new place?

Students may discuss aloud or first generate a list of “changes” before discussing as a class. Document responses; guide students in categorizing them under headers that include way of dress, religious practice, language, etc. Have students discuss how these changes and adaptations would make them feel in a new place, and how they might balance their cultural origins with their new experiences. Place their responses in the context of new Americans: what might the immigrant experience be like? (If there are new Americans in the class, or children of new Americans, encourage them to share their experiences.) Explain to them aspects of acculturation.

Activity 1: The Shape of Hinduism in America
(2 classroom periods)

Tell students they will watch short videos on Hindus in America; explain that the segments will build on the experiences and knowledge about new immigrants they explored in the introductory activity. As they watch, they should jot down some of the acculturation/adaptation issues that emerge for Hindus in the United States. Center them first on changes that occur in the way Hindus practice their religion and what might impede or influence their traditional beliefs.

Show the R&E segments “Hindus in America” and “Hindu Temple Dedication”.

After students have watched the films, distribute the worksheet Hindus in America (PDF). Divide students into small groups to complete the worksheet. Engage them in a discussion about what they learned about how Hindu immigrants live in America: changes they have made, choices they make, challenges they face, the ways Hinduism and American culture collide and/or mesh, etc.

Activity 2: Hindu American Youth
(one or two classroom periods)

Ask students to think about what they do differently from their parents/families. For example, do they eat the same types of food? Do they dress the same? What are some things their parents/families do that they don’t? Have them discuss why they might do things differently from their families/caregivers: what influences this type of behavior?

Divide students into triads. Distribute the R&E transcripts of “Hinduism in America,” Part 1 & Part 2. (Depending on the number of groups, divide the pieces equally: three groups get Part 1 and three others get Part 2, for example. If necessary, modify the pieces to address varied reading levels. Allow students to read sections aloud, stop and discuss them, and continue with this process until they have completed the transcripts. If desired, select additional readings from the resource list that focus on Hindu youth.)

Distribute sticky notes or index cards to the groups. Have a group recorder note, based on student discussion, what issues and influences Hindu youth face with regard to their origins, ethnicity, and religious traditions (guide student definitions of the terms, if necessary).

Have each group post its findings around the classroom; invite the groups to circulate and read all the findings and then as a class, determine the primary ways Hindu American youth interact with their religious and ethnic origins. Instruct students to predict how Hinduism in America will evolve with each new generation of Hindu Americans.

Culminating Activity
(two or more classroom periods)

(Options allow classrooms to select activities according to school and community resource availability.)

    OPTION A: Students organize a panel of varied generations of Hindu Americans to talk about their acculturation experiences and share views on what the Hindu American community of the future may look like.OPTION B: Students conduct interviews via phone, face-to-face, or digitally with Hindu American youth to learn more about how these young people balance their ethnicity, culture, and religious traditions with their American lives (guide students in defining ethnicity and culture, if appropriate). Students then create a virtual slide show with narrative or a booklet speaking to the experience of Hindu American youth.

    OPTION C: Students investigate and create a multimedia presentation that reflects how Hinduism has become a part of American culture.

    OPTION D: Students organize a field trip to a local Hindu temple and/or a class visit with the local paper’s religion reporter to learn more about Hindu faith communities in their area.

Extension Activities

Students can:

  • Research the Immigration Act of 1965, which allowed more non-Europeans to come to the United States. Then they can create a social science booklet on immigrant groups that came during this time and have grown over the years; the booklet will document their growth, challenges, and present socioeconomic status. Jump-start Web sites include:
  • Compare and contrast, in a multimedia presentation, how other new Americans have adapted to the United States and/or incorporated American culture into their practices.
  • Analyze and write a news analysis on the concept and formation of a “global culture” and how it would materialize in the United States.