From India to Indiana

frontView2A story on the growth of the Hindu population in my hometown of Indianapolis caught my eye the other day, and while I don’t have a lot of thoughts on it, other than sharing tmatt’s opinion that it was a nice change of pace, I wanted to bring it up before the weekend.

While the $1.3 million building is still under construction, I was able to find, on the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana’s website, a drawing of what the temple will look like. It’s quite a change of pace for a Midwestern city that sees modern-style churches constructed on what seems like a monthly basis.

The Indianapolis Star‘s Robert King report is straight up and contains a brief summary of the Hindu faith. Here’s how it begins:

Jagdish Dave remembers when the entire Hindu population of Indianapolis consisted of fewer than a dozen families.

The semiretired engineer from the Northside says the best way for new arrivals to find other Hindus was to search out Indian names in the phone book. Eager to forge a connection, these newcomers would introduce themselves to dark-skinned Asians they might happen across on the street.

Today, some four decades later, the Hindu community of Indianapolis has grown to nearly 3,000 families, still small but large enough for it to build the state’s first Hindu temple, on the Far Eastside. The temple, Hindus hope, will serve as a place for worship as well as a showpiece to educate the broader Indianapolis community about their culture.

While the Indian community here includes Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, it is heavily influenced by a Hindu base.

Ultimately, plans call for a structure that is quite impressive. Once the first phase is complete, the temple will have 11,000 square feet of space, but much more is planned.

A wide stone staircase will rise to an elevated colonnade. Distinctive Indian-style towers called gopuarms will project into the sky. In the front of the building, a pair of three-dimensional elephant murals on each side of the staircase will give the illusion they are pulling the entire structure like a grand chariot.

Inside, 12 Hindu deities — shaped in metal or carved from granite or marble — will reside in specially made “houses” inside the temple.

“It will be very unique,” Dave said. “This is a very exciting time for us to share our culture.”

In my 20 years in Indianapolis, I never saw any structure that comes close to this in its uniqueness and size. How things are changing in the Hoosier state.

And yes, I shamelessly copied the title of this post from the Star story. It was just too good to not use!

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  • Dan Berger

    I’m not a professional journalist, but (after reading a number of the “bad examples” posted to this blog) I found the story well-done and respectful. And it *was* both interesting and refreshing.

  • Stephen A.

    The small but growing Muslim community in my hometown struggled for nearly two years to get permission from the city to buid a permanent mosque.

    If the reporting had been this thorough, and revealing, I suspect many, other than the immediate neighbors who would oppose it in any case, wouldn’t have been so afraid of it.

    The understandable lack of media savvy on the Muslims’ part also probably contributed to the problems during the zoning process.

    They eventually were granted permission to build, however.

  • Maureen

    We’ve had a big Indian temple in tiny little Beavercreek for a good twenty years now. I don’t think even the church that ran the bookstore selling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the awful revelations of Maria Monk had anything bad to say about the temple being built. It was their land, so how was it our business?

    Amusingly enough, the out-of-the-way location is now right behind a big shopping center by the new mall. So much for peace and quiet, though the convenience of the location has improved.