Religions that are involved in processes of migration face a double challenge: they need to adapt to the new environment due to the different socio-cultural and legal setting; at the same time, a faithful maintenance of ritual practice, religious concepts, worldview, and norms is a prerequisite for the continuation of the very tradition, warding off assimilation. Recent scholarship in social and cultural studies subsumed these processes under the newly 'discovered' term of diaspora. This article employs the term to analyse aspects of religious dynamics caused by constraints of living home away from home. We adopt the neologism “templeisation” introduced by Vasudha Narayanan studying Hindu immigrants from India in the USA, in order to scrutinise incipient changes among Hindu Tamils from Sri Lanka in continental Europe. Templeisation points to a decisive shift of religious observance and ritual practice from the home to the temple, accompanied by a shift in authority away from women and mothers to men and priests. Are these shifts also observable for the Tamil Hindu diaspora in Germany and Switzerland?
This paper handles the question concerning the factors that control the degree of adaptability of a transplanted religion spread in a culturally alien context. It will be argued that the assumed superiority of both one's religion and one's culture are decisive factors for the willingness to adapt or to refuse adaptation. The theoretical issues will be illustrated by the adoption of Buddhism by its early German followers. Thus, the paper gives a brief survey of the historical development of the adoption of Buddhism in Germany. Characteristics of the early phases will be outlined as well as the state of affairs of Buddhism in Germany in the 1990's. Most remarkable is Buddhism's rapid growth which increased the number of Buddhist centres and groups fivefold since the mid 1970's.On the basis of this historic description a particular line of interpreting Buddhist teachings, that of a rational understanding, is outlined. The analysis of this adoption of Buddhism seeks to show that early German Buddhists interpreted and moulded Buddhist teachings in such a way as to present it as being in high conformity with Western morals and culture. This high degree of adapting Buddhist teachings led to an interpretation which can be characterized as a ‘Buddhism in Protestant shape.’ Buddhism was used as a means of protest against the dominant religion, that of Christianity, but at the same time its proponents took over many forms and characteristics of the religion criticized most heavily.