San Francisco: The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) applauds the twelve-year effort of an American, Julian Parker to have a temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath constructed at Kuansh village in Orissa.
The thirty-year-old Julian Parker, who has been a devotee of Lord Jagannath since childhood, came to India in 1993 to further his religious pursuits. Unfortunately, the Jagannath temple in Puri (Orissa) does not allow foreigners to enter, even if they are devotees of Lord Jagannath.
Therefore, Parker took it upon himself to build a temple devoted to Lord Jagannath, which would be open to all. After over a decade of persistence, the 35-foot tall temple was finally inaugurated last month. The $56,000 required to build the temple was raised through donations, with Parker contributing half the cost himself.
?There are so many Jagannath bhakts (devotees) across the world. When they are not allowed inside the temple, they feel bad like I did. So I have built this temple,? Parker told CNN-IBN news.
His plans do not stop with just building this temple. Next year, Parker plans to complete the traditional Rath Yatra, a festival when the idol of Lord Jagannath is taken out of the temple and paraded through the streets of Puri. He plans to build even larger temples if the just completed proves to be popular.
Several temples in Orissa continue to have discriminatory practices. In November, HAF protested the denial of entry to another American-born Hindu into another temple in the city of Bhubaneswar. HAF also earlier condemned multiple incidents where Harijan devotees were barred from entering temples in other villages in the same state. In one case, the Scheduled Caste Hadi community took a similar approach to Parker and built their own temple in response to the unjust treatment meted out by temple authorities.
?Discrimination has no place in Hinduism, especially in a place of worship,? said Jay Patel, Member of the Hindu American Foundation Executive Council. He said, ?We support the creative efforts of Shri Parker to make Hindu religious places free of discrimination against any devotee based on ethnicity, colour or caste.?
The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation promoting the Hindu and the American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.
Contact HAF at 1-877-281-2838 or on the web at www.hinduamericanfoundation.org.