Hindu Temple (St. John's) Association
26 Penny Lane
St. John's, NL
Canada A1A 5H2
Dr. Bharati Reddy, Chair
Website: Hindu Temple (St. John's) Association
Origins of the group: The Hindu Temple was started after Swami Chinmayananda came to the province to give discourses on Hinduism during his travels to the West. This visit initiated an interest among the local Hindu families to start up a temple for the children. Originally the meetings took place in the homes of various families. In 1976, a devotee of Swami Chinmayananda donated her house in Mount Pearl to the group. Thus, the first Hindu temple in Newfoundland took its root in the province. The constitution was drawn up on June 3, 1976.
After ten years the community numbers increased and the space in the Mount Pearl temple seemed glaringly insufficient. The Temple building fund was started in 1987 and when a sufficient amount was collected the land and later the building became achievable goals.
Highlights of group's history: The main highlight of the group's history is the building of the temple. The community collected the money through annual donations from the congregation and purchased the land despite the fact that they were a relatively small group of eighty families. The construction at the site on Penny Lane in St. John's was started during the summer 1994 and completed by the end of winter in 1995. The temple was consecrated on May 1995 when the idol and religious icons were moved into the new building. This was a more convenient location as most of the Hindu community lived in the east end of St. John's.
Present Goals of your group: One of the most important struggles facing the group today is the struggle to get the younger generation involved. India itself is changing, and even the youth living there do not see the need of upholding tradition. The world is changing so rapidly that technology is competing with tradition. It is a constant struggle to teach the youngsters the valuable old truths changed suitably to be acceptable in the modern world.
Another issue is the inability to find people within the community talented to teach traditional dance, or to play instruments to accompany Indian music. St. John's is a small city compared to Toronto or Montreal where the talent pool is vast and varied. In the past, the temple has offered Classical Indian dance of Bharat Natyam and Kathak. But even then, the dance teachers would visit for a month from other cities around the world, during summer or Easter holidays to give lessons. The enrollment for these classes dwindled over the years and eventually these classes could no longer be offered.
The group aims to get more involved with the larger community. They have already made an excellent start by donating funds to other charitable organizations like the food bank for St. John's, the Multicultural Woman's Group, and the campus food bank at MUN. They have also raised money for the Seniors Resource Group and provided meals for Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
Life in St. John's/in NL: For a small city, St. John's is quite diverse. It has incorporated various cultures and faiths quite well. People are open and interested. St. John's has made a remarkable change compared to the 1960s and 1970s.
Membership: The temple is run by a Board of Directors elected from the paid membership. The board elects the Chair from among themselves and later the chair appoints the two office bearers, a treasurer and secretary. All these positions are voluntary. Beside the Board there are activities coordinators in charge of various events and festivals.
English is the main language used within the temple. However, Puja in conducted in Sanskrit or Hindi. The paid membership at the Temple is between 80-100 families. But over 300 people of Indian origin attend the annual temple festival celebration of Diwali which takes place in October/ November.
Leaders and contacts: The role of the leaders is to maintain the smooth running of the temple financially and socially. They also aim to spread Indian culture through religious celebrations, festivals and making Indian cuisine popular among local public.
The general public can contact the Hindu Temple through the website. All the relevant information can be found there along with email addresses where further inquiries can be made.
Facilities: The temple facility can accommodate approximately 350 people. There is a prayer hall, library room and yoga room upstairs and a stage and community hall downstairs and a commercial kitchen to meet the needs of the community. The hall space downstairs is rented out to groups who run Tai Chi and Yoga Classes.
Information: All important information regarding the temple and temple services can be found on the website. The website also contains email addresses where further inquiries can be made.
Schedule of Events: The regular worship service takes place every Sunday from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm. There are also various other activities, such as holiday functions, fundraising luncheons, and a vegetarian food stall at the St. John's Regatta, and these activities take place at various times throughout the year. Even though the majority of those who attend the service are Hindus, the temple is open to people of all faiths. The general public can attend all the activities, including the regular worship services. There is an annual Multi-Faith Symposium that takes place in May where religious leaders and practitioners of all different faiths come together to share ideas and visions for harmonious understanding and a peaceful world of oneness and sharing among the people living on the island.