On Tuesday night Tulsi Gabbard became the first Hindu-American to have entered the U.S. House of Representatives, winning her Hawaii seat by crushing her Republican rival.
Gabbard, 31, is an Iraq War veteran who born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Hindu mother. She has served on the Honolulu City Council and in the state Legislature.
Gabbard is a rising star earlier, earlier this year she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, appearing with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi. I should note that her extreme margin of victory is largely due to the fact that her opponent Republican Kawika Crowley is homeless, lives in a van, and didn’t receive the backing of the Hawaii GOP party.
In an interview with Religion News Service earlier this month, Gabbard said she hopes to be a bridge between cultures and nations. “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,” she said.
“Although there are not very many Hindus in Hawaii, I never felt discriminated against. I never really gave it a second thought growing up that any other reality existed, or that it was not the same everywhere,” Tulsi said in a statement Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported.
The Washington Post points out the two highest-profile Indian-American politicians are both Republicans and converts to Christianity: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was raised Hindu, while South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was raised Sikh.
Gabbard, whose first name refers to a tree sacred to Hindus, follows the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism that believes in the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and his 10 primary incarnations.