The estimated 25,000-strong Hindu community in Ireland is celebrating the opening up of its first temple in Walkinstown, Dublin, following almost two decades of planning and fundraising by the community.
'iGlobal' caught up with Sudhansh Verma, the Director of the new Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre of Ireland behind the campaign to find a permanent place of worship for Ireland's Hindus, to explore the celebrations within a controlled Covid-19 lockdown setting.
Opened on the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre is designed as more than just a place of worship. It aims to keep alive the community's rich and vibrant heritage and to share the true meaning of Hindu Sanatana Dharma to the younger generations and Western world.
“It's a historical experience for Hindus and the Irish community,” says Verma.
The temple and cultural centre will also offer meditation and yoga classes, language classes, music, and dance workshops, and will be available for school visits and youth activities for the general public.
The grand opening of the temple last month was marked by prayers from morning to afternoon, with members of the committee who were involved in running the temple, and with a number of events running throughout the week.
In line with Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, Verma said: “Members of the public are required to make a booking online to visit the temple, whilst face masks must be worn inside the temple and bringing food and flowers to the temple is currently not prohibited.”
An anticipated and joyous moment for the Hindu community, according to Verma slots were booked out immediately within the first 20 minutes of opening.
Previously, there was no dedicated or permanent space for Hindus to meet for worship, events, or religious festival in Ireland, with locations such as community centres or town halls rented out depending on availability.
Long-term visions for the temple include 11 Golden Projects, including an ecology project, a women's Shakti Club, an integration project, and a senior citizens club. Its ecology project involves the planting of thousands of trees around Ireland and establishing a food facility for the homeless and those living in poverty.
Verma said: “The purpose of the temple is to not just serve as a place of worship but to make it a live and vibrant place for everyone.
“We want to create the biggest spiritual library incorporating texts from various religions, and for this temple to serve as a place of celebration and to be inclusive of all communities in Ireland. To incorporate the different cultural backgrounds of Hindus, we have placed 23 idols to give a flavour of inclusivity. In Hindu dharma, we believe we are one soul and there is only one God, and these deities are all of the different manifestations of God.”