As a part of a conference in North America that some of us recently attended, we put together a quiz to see how much people knew about Hindus and India.
It was a lot harder than we thought to try to come up with items that were obviously one option or another, but we had a good amount of fun with it.
At the risk of looking really foolish, I’m sharing it here for everyone to see. You can guess the best answer and then see our best answer. Scroll down to see our explanations and see if you agree!
Q1. Who is India’s arch rival in cricket?
Pakistan is India’s arch rival in nearly everything, and cricket is no different. India and Australia matches are often very exciting with a lot riding on them, but given the choice, Indian fans would much rather beat Pakistan than Australia. England and Sri Lanka usually boast good cricket teams, but the matches aren’t as personal.
Q2. If a Hindu friend offers you food called prasad, he is trying to tell you that…
Answer: The food was offered to an idol.
When Hindus goes to a temple, before returning, they often bring or purchase some food from the temple that has been offered to the temple deity. They may offer it to family members, co-workers, and friends as a way for these people to also receive the blessings of the temple visit.Christians should not be hesitant to accept and eat the prasad as is outlined in 1 Corinthians 10. A Hindu offering this food is not trying to get you to admit their god is worthy of worship, but simply wants to share an experience they had. This is an expression of friendship that should not be spurned.
Q3. All of these are avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu except:
This is a tricky one! The two largest segments of Hinduism are Vaishnavism (those who consider Vishnu the supreme god) and Saivism (those who consider Shiva the supreme god).
Within Vaishnavism, two of the best-known avatars of Vishnu are Ram (or Rama), whose epic is described in the Ramayana, and Krishna, who is a major character in the Mahabharata. Not as well-known is that many Vaishnavite Hindus consider the Buddha as the ninth and most recent avatar of Vishnu.
There are many different theological and devotional traditions within both Vaishnavism and Saivism, rather like various Protestant denominations. Saivism and Vaishnavism are the broad categories, again in some ways comparable to Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in Christianity.
Q4. Which of these are you least likely to encounter?
Answer: A Hindu who has read the Rig Veda.
Being Hindu is first and foremost about your cultural identity. Within that, there can be an array of religious beliefs. There are traditions of atheistic Hindus going back several hundred years. In modern times, it is common to find someone who identifies as a Hindu, but does not believe in any gods.
Similar to the previous option, there is plenty of room for a Hindu to treat Jesus as their guru and follow his ways while still staying inside Hindu culture. Hindus in general have a lot of respect for Jesus and have no problem treating him as a god. At first, they have an attitude of acceptance towards any god, but can come to a genuine surrender to Jesus as Lord. However, they usually are not eager to stop being a Hindu and start being a Christian, as that is a change in cultural identity for them.
Some very strict Hindus will only eat vegetarian food. However, many of the Hindus you meet will on occasion eat eggs, chicken, lamb, and goat, at least once a week perhaps. Many Hindus eat a lot of meat and there are even some who have no problem eating beef and pork, though they are more rare.
The Rig Veda is an ancient, sacred text, full of poetry written in ancient, not classical, Sanskrit, either praising certain gods, or describing sacrificial rituals. While honored in spirit by most Hindus, it would be about as common to find a Hindu who has read it as finding a Christian who has memorized large sections of Leviticus.
This question is the least fact based, so your experience might differ, but option D made the most sense to us.
Q5. Which of these is the least likely to make a Hindu uncomfortable?
Answer: Praying in Jesus’s name.
Another question born out of our personal experiences.
Many Hindus are uncomfortable in highly Christianized contexts like churches and concerts. North American churches are so different from Hindu temples (both in style and function), that it may be quite strange for them to see it as a religious place. While singing music to a god is common in Hinduism, our current modern rock music in praise of Jesus comes off as strange to many Hindus.
While a Hindu might be willing to come to a Bible study once to satisfy a personal request, Bible studies are not common for Hindus. Most Hindus learn about spiritual concepts orally, even if they are highly literate. They don’t see studying an ancient text as a group on a weekly basis as a major part of their spirituality. Many Bible passages are confusing to Hindus and Christian who do not understand the Hindu context will not likely give satisfying answers to their questions.
However, most Hindus are very fond of prayer and are willing to pray to any god who is open to listen and receive. Hindus, nearly without exception, will respond positively to an offer to pray for them if they are facing a difficulty and you have a genuine relationship.
Q6. The number of Indian Americans in the US is approximately equal to which US city?
Answer: Los Angeles, CA (~4 million)
The most recent statistics from the US Census Bureau estimate that there are 4.4 million Indian-American in the United States, roughly equivalent to the size of Los Angeles, CA. Indian-Americans are most concentrated in New York/New Jersey, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles Metro area, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Washington DC.
Q7. How many languages are there on Indian paper currency?
There are fifteen languages listed on the back of Indian paper currency, and English and Hindi are used on the front. This reflects the great diversity within the country of India. Many from one side of the country are not able to communicate with others due to different languages and even different scripts. It’s best to consider India as a conglomeration of several cultures, each with their own unique identity, similar to the European Union.