United States now officially has its first Hindu in Congress.
Tulsi Gabbard, a 31-year-old Iraq war veteran, has created history by being the first Hindu American in Congress and is expected to take her oath on the Bhagavad Gita. And she comes from this part of the world.
Proud of her Hindu religion, Gabbard is not Indian. She was born in Leloaloa, in American Samoa, the fourth of five children of Mike Gabbard and carol Porter Gabbard.
Her family moved to Hawaii in 1983 when Tulsi was two. Tulsi grew up in a multicultural, multi-religious household. Her father is of Samoan/Caucasian heritage and is a practicing Catholic who is a lector at his church, but also likes to practice mantra meditation, including kirtan. Her mother is Caucasian and a practising Hindu.
Tulsi fully embraced Hinduism as a teenager. Her father is currently the State Senator for Hawaii's 19th District.
Gabbard says her faith will be an asset in Congress, where she hopes to work on war veterans’ affairs, environmental issues, and cultivating a closer relationship between US and India.
“It is clear that there needs to be a closer working relationship between the United States and India. How can we have a close relationship if decision-makers in Washington know very little, if anything, about the religious beliefs, values, and practices of India’s 800 million Hindus?” Gabbard told The Huffington Post.
“Hopefully the presence in Congress of an American who happens to be Hindu will increase America’s understanding of India as well as India’s understanding of America.”
Gabbard defeated K. Crowley of the Republican Party with a solid margin in Hawaii’s second Congressional district. And Crowley was mean-spirited enough to fume that Gabbard’s religion “was incompatible with the Constitution”.
In a statement released after her victory, Gabbard acknowledged that her election would be an inspiration to Hindus across America who feel diffident about having a different religion.
“On my last trip to the mainland, I met a man who told me that his teenage daughter felt embarrassed about her faith, but after meeting me, she’s no longer feeling that way,” Gabbard said.
“He was so happy that my being elected to Congress would give hope to hundreds and thousands of young Hindus in America, that they can be open about their faith and even run for office, without fear of being discriminated against or attacked because of their religion.”
Two the two highest-profile Indian-American politicians are both Republicans and converts to Christianity: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was raised Hindu, while South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was raised Sikh.
This article is free to read, but it would awesome if we had your support.