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In USA, Norco sets up committee to resolve Hindu Temple Project issues

On July 6, the Norco City Council members unanimously decided to block the construction of the temple on the grounds of reasons such as the temple doesn’t fit the city’s ‘western theme and identity’

Hindu temple Image Source: shutterstock
  • Norco City Council members in a unanimous 5-0 vote decided to block the construction of a Hindu temple on the grounds of not fitting the city’s ‘western theme and identity’
  • City Manager Andy Okoro plans to set up a resolving committee in the light of the recent misunderstandings in the media 
  • The time for the process cannot be assumed as it highly depends on the recommendations made

Officials of Norco just moved one step closer to lacking a Hindu temple in its 3636 Norconian Drive. One won’t be entirely wrong if he thinks it was a culturally unbelievable step by the Norco city council to deny the leaders of a faith organisation from moving ahead with their plans of bringing in a Hindu temple to the town.

On July 6, 2016, the Norco City Council members unanimously decided to block the construction of the temple on the grounds of reasons such as, the temple doesn’t fit the city’s ‘western theme and identity’.

Adding to that, Councilmen Greg Newton and Ted Hoffman raised concerns about adequate parking, water drainage and the effect on residential vistas before voting against the temple. To a common man, it might all seem like religious discrimination done behind a cloak, reported the Press Enterprise Website.

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“We were stunned when they denied us,” Patolia, also a chairman of the faith organisation, said this week. “They had already made up their minds not to allow it.” The supporters of the temple have already spent more than $200,000 on the 4-acre site, which is wedged between two Christian churches. Another reason added to the reject list by the city officials was about the proposed domed structure of the temple that falls beneath the city’s height allowance.

Ironically, the steeples of the Christian churches exceed city laws, reaching more than 60 feet into the air. Nevertheless, the developers appealed to reduce the building’s height by more than 10 feet and remove the traditional domed architecture that serves as a reflection of their religious expression.

Light at the end of the tunnel

However, all hope is not lost and a three-year effort is not assumed to go down the drain just yet. On July 20, a Corona resident filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union for similar reasons due to which City Manager Andy Okoro has recommended forming a committee to resolve the above issues.

In his report for August 3, council meeting Okoro stated his reasons for a resolving committee. The Press Enterprise states those reasons –“misunderstanding in the media regarding the reasons why the project was denied” and the “applicant’s willingness to make changes” to the project are the reasons for a second chance.

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Norco City Councilman Kevin Bash. Image Source: The Press Enterprise
Norco City Councilman Kevin Bash. Image Source: The Press Enterprise

The Press Enterprise stated that the temple and cultural centre for the Swaminarayan Gurukul faith, a Hindu denomination, would have included a prayer room, covered patio, classrooms, kitchens and a tennis court. There would be Patrons daily yoga, prayers and meditation held in its enclosed area.

The proposed committee will be conducted in the presence of two city council members, two planning commissioners and temple representatives to oversee the architectural details and the temple’s effects on the local streets. The time for the process cannot be assumed as it highly depends on the recommendations made.

– prepared by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots


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  • noh1bvisas

    assimilate. if you want to come to america, try to fit in. redesign, then resubmit – just like everyone else.

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Temple, Mosque, Gurudwara Join Hands In This UP Town

In another incidents, last year in September, when dates of Durgapuja and Muharram clashed, Mishra and Muhammad Rizwan, Haneef's son, took charge

All religions joined hands together to clean the polluted river. IANS

With inter-community violence reported from many parts of India in a society increasingly polarised on religious and caste lines, a small town in Uttar Pradesh is setting an extraordinary example where a temple, a mosque, and even a gurdwara, have joined hands to clean a polluted river while bringing their communities together.

About 100 km from the state capital Lucknow is the town named Maholi in district Sitapur. Here lies an old Shiva and a Radha-Krishna temple along with Pragyana Satsang Ashram and a mosque, all at a stone’s throw of each other.

Tirthan River is beautifully calm and you'll find many different kinds of fishes in it. Wikimedia Commons
The river in Sitapur is really polluted. Wikimedia Commons

Along the periphery of this amalgamated religious campus, passes a polluted river called Kathina, that merges into the highly polluted Gomti River, a tributary of the mighty but polluted Ganga. Often used as dumping site by dozens of villages and devotees, the stink from Kathina was increasing daily. The solution — Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (a term used for a fusion of Hindu and Muslim elements) – of Awadh.

“The river belongs to everyone. Hindus use it for ‘aachman’ (a Hindu ritual for spiritual purification), Muslims use it for ‘wazu’ or ablution. Due to lack of awareness, people had been dumping solid and bio waste here, and also doing open defecation. The situation was worsening. Only solution was to start cleaning it ourselves,” said Swami Vigyananad Saraswati, head of the Pragyana Satsang Ashram, as he inspects the river stretch along with Muhammad Haneef, head of the mosque’s managing committee.

Swami said that once the ashram and temple administration began rallying volunteers for the cleaning drive, the mosque also came around to help. Even Maholi’s Sikh gurudwara committee came forward and brought along many volunteers from the Sikh community.

“Once the communities came together, number of volunteers multiplied. The initiative has now become a kind of an environment-movement which is being driven by religious fervor and bonding. Watching our efforts, the local administration also offered help, and other unions like traders and Sikh gurudwara committee also joined hand for cleaning the river,” Swami told IANS pointing out the potential of possibilities when different communities join hands for good.

Ujagar Singh, a member of the Sikh gurdwara committee, equated the effort in cleaning the river with ‘sewa’, an important aspect of Sikhism to provide a service to the community. “Keeping our rivers clean is our duty and we will continue sewa whenever required,” he said.

The temple and mosque, near the town’s police station, were both built in 1962 by then Inspector Jaikaran Singh. The communal fervor is shared since years. During ‘namaaz’, the ashram switches off its loudspeakers and on Hindu festivals and special occasions, the mosque committee helps the temple with arrangements. Still underway, the joint Hindu-Muslim team began cleaning the river from March 14. According to the volunteers, it took three days alone to get the river front cleaned of defecation.

Also Read: All Religions Flourished In India: Modi

“Many villages do not have toilets and volunteers had to stay here round the clock to stop people from defecating or throwing waste. The work was divided. Muslims volunteers would take over the Muslim majority areas and Hindus would tackle other areas, convincing people to stop pollution further while we clean,” Muhammad Haneef told IANS.

The actual cleaning of the river began from March 17, when about 400 volunteers got into the waters, while about 700 of them cleaned the shores. “Several trolleys of garbage — that included plastic, polythene, shoes, rubber, animal carcasses, human waste, glass and ceramic waste, and even some old boat wreck — were taken out of the river.

“Apart from that, several trolleys of water hyacinth, an invasive species of water plant, was removed. It obstructs the flow of the river,” Sarvesh Shukla, executive officer of Maholi town told IANS. Stating that such drive is not possible unless people come together, Shukla said that since ‘mandir-masjid’ joined hand, it was very easy to convince people to cooperate. However, with poor garbage management system of small town, Swami and Haneef looked up to the administration for help.

“Few days back, some butchers were taking waste towards the river. We stopped them and there was a heated debate. Soon other elders of the community joined and we did not let them dump the waste into the river,” said Haneef, pointing out that stopping people without proper management could be daunting in future.

Swami said that they would need disilting machines to clean the river towards the second phase. According to Abdul Rauf from the mosque committee, the work is only half done. “The challenge is to maintain the cleanliness. We could clean only a small stretch of the river. We will rally again and take movement to second phase once we get directions from our elder brother Swami ji,” says Rauf. Nearly one kilometer of the stretch has been cleaned. The volunteers are aiming to clean another kilometer of it. However, be it river or communal fervor, the challenge, as residents of Maholi find, is consistency of the good.

Rohingya refugee
All came together to clean the river.

“There are bad elements everywhere. Few weeks back, a fringe group named Vishwa Hindu Jagran Parishad entered a Muslim-majority area and started hurling abuses. Before they would do more damage, the Hindus of that area came forward and retaliated. The group never returned since,” said Shailendra Mishra, a local resident and member of temple committee. In another incidents, last year in September, when dates of Durgapuja and Muharram clashed, Mishra and Muhammad Rizwan, Haneef’s son, took charge.

“All we had to do was keep a few notorious people from both communities at bay. About 5,000 strong Hindu’s Devi Shakti procession and about 2,000 strong Muslim Tazia procession of Muharram used the same road at the same time. Not a single untoward incident happened,” Haneef said. IANS