Democrat Gabbard became the first Hindu in Congress after defeating Republican Kawika Crowley in Hawaii’s second congressional district.

“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,” Gabbard said in an interview with Religion News Service prior to the election.

She was born in American Samoa to a catholic father and a Hindu mother, and began practicing Hinduism in her teens. She also served in the Hawaii National Guard and in Baghdad in 2004.

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