The local Hindu temple
recently had an open day for the local community to tie in with their Diwali celebrations. Out of curiosity, I paid a visit, and I have to say, I found the whole experience fascinating (don't worry, I haven't converted).
The officials were very welcoming, and gave us a whole introduction to the history of the temple, their charitable work, and the sect of Hinduism that they follow. Apart from the obvious fact that they worship several gods, I couldn't help but notice a few similarities to our own religion. Firstly, they follow a lunar calendar, and adjust it every few years to ensure that festivals fall during the right season. Like our own Hassidim, they have various sects that follow whole dynasties of leaders. And food plays a major part in their religion: on my visit, there were literally hundreds of trays laid out to their gods. Although all their food was strictly vegetarian, there was definitely a halachic issue of Bishul Akum!
A whole programme of entertainment was laid on for the visitors, including the famous Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band
. Multiculturalism may have gone too far, but there is something to be said for opening up your house of worship to the local community. Maybe our local shul could do something similar, maybe for Simchat Torah???
When I visited the temple, I was mindful of the fact that Judaism has always objected on principle to idol worship, but the irony is that over the last two millenia and up to the present day, we have suffered far more under monotheism than under polytheism.