Hindu temple of Columbus
The American immigration laws are very stringent in a sense that no seeds, soil or plant is allowed in the US under these laws lest it affects the environment and biodiversity there. But a seed somehow reached Ohio State and germinated there some two decades ago. Interestingly, this happened without any violation of the immigration laws or international statute. This seed was of Hinduism. After the ceremonial function or bhoomipujan in 1992 the foundation of a Hindu temple was laid at Hyatts Road, Powell. Now this temple has grown like a banyan tree providing succour to Hindus in the neighbourhood.
Today, over ten thousand people are associated with this temple directly or indirectly. The number may seem trivial for the Indians, but considering the size of Columbus the 15th biggest city of the US having some lakh households, this number is quite significant.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to participate in a programme on the occasion of Ramanujacharya Jayanti in the US. In the temple this programme was organised with much fanfare and zest where people had gathered in large number in a hall surrounded by idols of Lord Ganesh and other deities.
As the sounds of community prayer Sahana vavatu; sahanau bhunaktu faded in the atmosphere a school girl took over the mike to inform the people the objective of the programme and invited her other colleagues. Immediately, two students of standard IV or V came to the stage donning traditional dhoti kurta and with i-pads in their hands representing the pleasant confluence of the cultures of the West and the East. A new initiative was witnessed.
After the introduction of Ramanujacharya, his thoughts were disseminated to the audience in a question and answer style. The programme was to end with Ganesh Vandana and when the aarti began, the sounds of drums and mridang filled the atmosphere. This was followed by distribution of prasad and introduction. Shri Ramesh Punetha, the priest of the temple who had come here from Haridwar and now a US citizen, says temple has been the centre of Hindu faith. But now it has become a medium to keep the cultural roots intact and expand the social sphere for the Hindu society.
He is right! The Indian diaspora of Columbus has its faith centered on this temple where the cultural, educational and spiritual streams merges. It has ample literature on Hindu culture available on payment or even free of cost. Besides, classes of various Bharatiya languages are conducted on weekends. Recently 400 students have been given certificates in a convocation ceremony. This fact highlights the attraction of this centre amongst the students.
The objectives of the temple management committee headed by famous cardiologist Dr Raj Tripathi are very clear. The objectives are to generate faith in Hindu Dharma and to create a broad consensus about it. The institution that set up this temple has decided to create conducive atmosphere for the spread of Hinduism where actions related to Hindu Dharma could be performed on psychological, physical, and spiritual levels. The institution has achieved notable success in fulfillment of its stated objectives.
The notable aspect is concentration of a temple committee for the development of youth. The community festival organised in the premises is managed by these youth leaders and their volunteers. To be a youth leader and to make one involve a special process which aims at exposing the Indian origin students on educational and social fronts. As such this new centre of faith has been a nursery for developing and training new talents.
Years ago, Columbus got misled to the Americas and took them for India. Today, the Columbus city in the same America houses a ‘live India’ with its tolerant and cultural specialities.