Wolverhampton audiologist and key committee member of Shri Krishan Mandir, Wolverhampton, Bhupinder Sharda, recently gave 'iGlobal' a glimpse into the current challenges faced by his Mandir (temple) and the opportunity to raise funds for the National Health Service (NHS).
Bhupinder grew up with the Mandir at the centre of his family life. His father and his paternal aunt were founder-members of the first purpose built West Midlands Hindu temple in the early 1970s. For the past decade, Bhupinder has been part of the Mandir's management and is today the Assistant Secretary responsible for many areas, one such aspect being managing the risks associated with opening the Mandir within the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
“We have carried out so many risk assessments in the past for our routine temple activities and festivals from Janamashtami to Diwali but with the reopening of our Mandir in these times of social distancing is particularly different and difficult,” he said.
As with other places of worship, Shri Krishan Mandir operates as a cornerstone of society and acts as a place of support for the wellbeing of its devotees. With respecting the government guidelines of social distancing, Bhupinder reminded me of how the Hindu approach to pray is with a free mind, moving from deity to deity guided by the individual worshipers' own tradition, emotions and devotion. “Given the current situation, worship will have to change and devotees must follow a more structured approach in recognition of our collective duty to fight this disease.”
Over the past couple of months, the Mandir Committee unanimously chose to donate £10,000 to the NHS. Bhupinder explained that even this was different.
“Rather than the conventional method of donations made via cash from devotees, we had to use technology to collect funds and for some of our elder devotees this was the first time they donated in this way.”
The Mandir presented the £10,000 cheque to the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Charity recently.
Having been closed since the end of March, the Mandir is now opening to devotees with a new set of risk assessments, which have led to changes in the way devotees will worship and access the Mandir complex. The Mandir's volunteers will now devote time to uphold the new requirements of combatting the spread of coronavirus in time for the July 4 timeline and beyond.
Best wishes to all places of worship across the country, which are similarly getting ready to welcome back worshippers in the coming days and weeks.
Raaj Shamji a.k.a. Roving Raaj is a West Midlands, UK, based media personality and a Roving Reporter for 'iGlobal'.