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(For Representational purpose) BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The members have recently moved into the building at 500 SE Maynard Road that had housed the Hispanic Ministry of White Plains United Methodist Church since 2001. According to the congregation’s leaders, it is the first temple for Hindu community in North Carolina. Sujal Patel (a member of the Shree Swaminarayan congregation) mentioned the significance of a permanent home for its members.

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Sujal Patel, a member of the Shree Swaminarayan congregation said to an online news portal, “having a permanent home gives us a lot of flexibility. More hours and time toward praying and community service.” Member Niraj Joshi said, since 1999, the congregation met every other week in rented spaces or members’ homes. He said, “We eventually decided that we should have our own place. It would allow us to grow, and it also allows to kind of have a constant thing instead of something that only happens once every two weeks.”

The Hispanic Ministry got relocated earlier this year in 2016 to White Plains’ main church building, which made the building available to exercise spiritual practices for about 25 to 30 families as members.

Hindu books, Wikimedia Commons

Joshi said, “Having our own place is a very good way for us to practice our religion, in a true manner, like we would practice it in our own culture, in our country, or somewhere else,” He added. “It’s a very important thing for us to have a place so that the people can come together,” mentioned the report.

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Swaminarayan, a sect of Hinduism, originated from Northern India, that follows the teachings of Swaminarayan Swami. They celebrate festivals every year, like Holi and Diwali. Patel mentioned that it used to take members, hours of hard work to set up a service and clean the place up afterwards; but the building removed the necessity to haul the necessary items such as scriptures, idols, and food from place to place. For general renovations, repairs and the installation of Hindu idols; the temple will remain open for the next several months.

Patel said, “Now we can have classrooms and teach kids the next level of understanding our culture and our background and what Hinduism is. We want them to understand their culture, and at the same time, give themselves back to the God and to the community.” Tej Joshi, Niraj’s son and a ninth-grader at Panther Creek High School, will also be part of the temple’s youth group.

Patel added, “It’s better. We don’t have to keep on moving our stuff from our houses. It’s better to have a permanent space.” His younger sister, Parthavi Joshi said, “We make presentations. We present them in the main hall. We have all these classrooms on the bottom floor, so we can have different classes back to back, and it kind of feels like a school.”

Joshi is hopeful that the temple will be a place of unity. On July 28-31 for a ceremony a priest came from India to bless the place and the idols and perform “Puja” and prayers.

– prepared by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490




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