Hellenismos is much more than «religion»

This article is intended to be a gentle reminder or more likely an «enlightener» for those readers who may be under the impression that Hellenismos is a religion or only concerned with the ancestral cults.
Unfortunately, there are too many false information on the Internet so that people interested in learning more about Hellenismos (or «Hellenism,» as it is called in the Western world) need to keep their eyes open to distinguish the true from the false.
The truth is, there is not much information available in English. Nonetheless, from the available sources you can find on the Internet or book stores, only few of them are written by Hellenes. In view of this, it is almost natural that those interested in the Hellenic tradition draw false or incomplete conclusions or are led to believe that Hellenismos is a religion or the «belief in the Greek gods.»
Hellenismos, however, cannot be reduced to religion. It is not all about the gods, and certainly not about «faith.» (There is no such thing as «Hellenic faith.»)
Hellenismos is the totality of the indigenous Hellenic culture.
It contains all things indigenous Hellenic, including piety or «religion,» as it is called today.
There are also ethnic Hellenes who are agnostics or atheists. It is also not unusual for Hellenes to worship the gods without having a specific conception of them.
One doesn’t have to «believe» in the gods in order to worship them properly. This is yet another reason why it is wrong to call Hellenismos «Hellenic paganism» or to reduce it to «polytheism» (a term I try to avoid, as too many disconcerting stereotypes are associated with it).
It would be like reducing Hinduism to puja, Japanese culture to the kami or the Lakota people to their dances.
It would be anthropologically incorrect to look at it as «religion.»
It’s a way of life. A culture.
Hellenismos contains the ancestral cults, yes, but it also contains our language, alphabet, history, customs, lores, myths (are not to be confused with the gods themselves or their cults), dances, food, music, theatre, political ideas, institutions, literature, value system, philosophy, architecture, identity, our collective sorrows, victories and defeats.
Some Hellenes use Hellenismos synonymous to «Hellenic religion,» simply because it is part of our ethnic identity, just as the temples are part of our culture of memory.
But keep in mind that Hellenismos is much more than «religion.»
It is a whole world of meanings, symbols and elements, full of colours, aromas and melodies.