So, when I left, my discussions went with me xD But now that I am back, I'm breathing life into a new one.
I'm a Hindu, formally a Shaiva, but now dabbling more into Shaktism. I still love Shiva, though.
SO ask away. I'll try to answer as best I can. I can't promise that I have all the answers, but again, I can try :D
Which specific devi or deva do you follow?
I worship Maa Kali as my Ishta-Devi, on the Bhakta Marga (Path of Devotion, since the other ones require initiation). I also worship Shiva and Ganapati (Ganesha!). :)
I think it can be. It's seen as a negative term these days, mostly do to the fact that missionaries coming to India were calling them pagans and demon worshipers. But the word pagan nowadays doesn't hold *nearly* as much stigma, so I can't see it being as big of a deal as it once was. It's hard to say, since I've never experienced what Hindus in the past have from Christian/Muslim extremists.
Anybody else? :D
I haven't really prayed to Sri Lakshmi in particular, so I can't answer :( That's very interesting that she would be distant. I know many call Her warm-hearted and very maternal. Maybe spend a little more time with her, perhaps? Maybe she is trying to tell you that she'd like you to talk with her more often.
I kind of felt that way a while back with Sri Ganesha, but after a while, I realized that it wasn't him, it was me. I'm not saying that it's you, of course; but sometimes we may think a deity or a person feels one way, when the opposite is true. So, it's hard to say.
I hope I helped a little. Good luck!
What exactly makes the various denominations of Hinduism different from each other?
Ooh, that's a loaded question. A lot of things, really, yet many also share similarities with each other. Vaishnavism tends to see Vishnu as supreme, while subsects of Vaishnavism may believe Vishnu is distinct from our creation, while others take a more monistic approach. Shaivism sees Shiva as supreme, and Shaktism would see Shakti (The Goddess) as supreme. Then you have Smarthism, which sees all the Gods as aspects of one God. Smarthism is strictly monistic.
So, it really just depends. Sometimes there can be so many sects and sub-sects and sub-sub-sects that it can give you a headache!
I hope that answered it, if not let me know xD
You did answer it. I know there's no real brief or simple way to answer that. It's just I did a school paper on Kali once and I discovered so many different views of her from Hindus of varying denominations.
Wow! I've seen Krishna and Radha as the same but Kali is usually by herself
I know, pretty cool :) In this case, Kali would be Krishna, and Shiva would be Radha.