Typically, as I've said before, Hinduism doesn't have conversion. However, the temple that I'm interested in going to states in a FAQs section of their website that they believe that anyone who practices Hinduism is a Hindu and they have no problem with that (see below for the quotes from the temple). They also make the excellent point that at some point, even if proselytizing never happened, conversion must have because of the high numbers of Hindus in other south east Asian countries.
There is a magazine called Hinduism Today and they also publish several interesting books on what Hinduism is and similar topics. They believe in a conversion ritual, according to one of the books, which involves having a priest perform the baby naming ceremony on you and you pick an Indian name. You then insist that everyone, such as your family and coworkers, call you by your Indian name.
I have not done this. It seems rather pretentious and obnoxious to me and, honestly, I already worry that I'm skirting that line. I really don't want my family rolling their eyes behind my back and saying, "Who does she think she is? Does she think she can be Indian by changing her name?"
I think that is what my mother fears when she tells me that I'm going to offend Indians. So far no one has been offended (that they've told me, anyway, although who wants to have that conversation face to face with someone?), though several have been stunned.
But do I actually want to be Indian and if so, why?
Last night we watched a movie about privileged white kids who imitate black culture. It made me wonder if my issue is more universal than I had thought. Is this a problem with a lot of white America? An epidemic in white youth? Do we just not have any culture of our own or are we dissatisfied with the culture we do have?
I want to look Indian, to pass for Indian, just to avoid the feeling that people think I'm putting on an act. (Some friends say I worry way too much what other people think). This is one of the reasons I'm learning to speak Hindi. I somehow feel as though it will give me legitimacy.
I discussed this recently with a good friend of mine I grew up with, and she certainly saw my upbringing as being Hindu. It's hard for my mother and other people to understand that I'm not romanticizing the religion or the culture. I know its downsides and my eyes are open to its faults, but I have an affection for it despite those things and no matter what, the beliefs are my beliefs and there is no religion in the world that better expresses these things that I believe.
The Following is Quoted from the website of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, MD:
1. Who is a Hindu?
If a person has at least one Hindu parent or has chosen to adopt Hindu principles, and celebrates Hindu festivals, one may be considered a Hindu.
There are many views in this regard.
One way of looking at it would suggest that a Hindu would observe at least some Hindu traditions as being part of a community. For example:
1. in lifecycle events like marriage ceremonies, death ceremonies etc;
2. in annual and seasonal festivals like Navraatri (or Dusherra), Diwaali (or Deepaavali), Krishna Janmaasthami, etc;
3. general community practices, like temple worship, etc.
Some higher levels of criteria may include such characteristics as having worthwhile objectives (Purushaartha) in life (see question 6, principle iii), believing in rebirth and evolution of the soul, and working towards ultimate realization.
From a strict traditional sense, to be a Hindu, one must either accept the Vedas & Vedaangas and/or Aagama & Tantra.
2. Is it necessary to go to a temple or practice anything in any special way to be a Hindu? Can one stop being a Hindu?
As long as one is praying at home, it is not necessary to go to a temple to remain a Hindu. One never stops being a Hindu.
While prayer at home is good, prayer at a temple is much better, because the temple is a specially consecrated place, and the idols are specially consecrated idols. The atmosphere and spiritual ambiance in a temple are more powerful and effective. Just as we do watch video pictures at home but, even so, go out occasionally to a theatre to see a film, we can pray daily at home, but need to visit a temple as often as we can.
While there is no one single practice required for a Hindu, a Hindu would be expected to follow at least one of the many Hindu practices. Since temple worship is only one such practice, others may be substituted. And one never stops being a Hindu unless one chooses to relinquish Hinduism by actively converting to a non-Hindu faith.
However, there is a special importance for temple worship in modern living, particularly outside India. Since the temple is a consecrated place, the effectiveness of any practice in the temple is likely to be more powerful. The energy of this consecration is described often by temple visitors as a feeling of peace, bliss, happiness, etc. This, combined with the opportunity to interact with Hindu culture (which may not be available in ones neighborhood), becomes a double incentive for Hindus outside India to visit a temple regularly.
3. What is the position of conversion in Hinduism?
There is no traditional Hindu practice to convert others. However, historically Hinduism has spread to Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and Indonesia in earlier centuries. Therefore, it would be reasonable to conclude that Hinduism does not actively seek to convert others, but there is room for anyone who wishes to become a Hindu.
There is no conversion ceremony prescribed in the ancient tradition, although some modern leaders have invented some. Since anybody can claim to be a Hindu by adopting the principles and practices, there is no prescription in the sacred texts to proselytize others into the faith. Therefore, it would be reasonable to conclude that Hinduism does not actively seek to convert others, but there is room for anyone who wishes to become a Hindu. An observation made by some scholars suggests that by a proper study of Hinduism, a Hindu would become a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian, a Jew a better Jew, and anyone a better human being.