Hindus see need for city temple

Burgeoning Indian community calls for temple

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014
Krishna

DEITY DEFICIT: Hindu deity Krishna was mistaken for Jesus’ right-hand man by a young Indian child in New Plymouth, a sign the town needs its own Hindu temple, members of the Indian community say.

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When a young Indian child asked if Krishna was Jesus' righthand man, the president of New Plymouth's Indian Community knew it was time the town got a Hindu temple.

New Plymouth's Indian community has doubled in size in the past three years.

Despite the city's Indian population being 60-70 per cent Hindu and 10-15 percent Sikh and the minority Christian and Muslim, the town has a mosque and plenty of churches but no Hindu temple, New Plymouth Indian Community president Ashwani Kumar said.

He said the influx was a result of the oil and gas industry boom attracting Indian skilled migrants.

More than 200 Indian families are registered with the NPIC, up on 100 about three years ago, he said.

Kumar had received numerous emails from families new to the region asking whether the town had a Hindu or Sikh temple.

In lieu of a place to worship, Hindu and Sikh followers prayed and carried out religious rituals in their homes.

The biggest demand was from parents who wanted to expose their children, who had grown up in New Zealand removed from the culture of their home, to Hinduism.

"It's hugely important," Kumar said.

"It's a place where we can show another part of our religion."

A couple of years ago Kumar's wife invited a few families to a Hindu ritual at their home.

He said they were praying to a photo of Krishna and one little boy said, "Who's he?"

His mother told him it was Krishna and the boy replied, "Is he second-in-command to Jesus?"

Krishna, often depicted with blue skin, is an incarnation of the god Vishnu, one of the three principle deities in Hinduism alongside Brahma and Shiva.

"Everybody started laughing," Kumar said.

"But it shows a lack of knowledge of our heritage."

The NPIC proposed to rent a place somewhere in town or no less than 10km out of town, with a view to eventually building or buying a place to convert to a temple, Kumar said.

He said some businesses in town had expressed an interest in helping fund the project and a number of families were also prepared to contribute to help keep the religion alive in New Plymouth.

Sikhism and Hinduism are historically tied, as both were founded in India, and the creators of Sikhism were born into Hindu families and Hindu castes.

The NPIC is holding a meeting tomorrow to gauge interest in the temple proposal from the Indian community.

The meeting will be held from 2pm-4.30pm at 219 St Aubyn St, New Plymouth, and Kumar urged anyone interested to attend.

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