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Devotees in Canada’s smallest province celebrate opening of first Hindu temple

Author: Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: March 17, 2024
URL:   https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/devotees-in-canada-s-smallest-province-celebrating-opening-of-first-hindu-temple-101710669323512.html

The temple in Prince Edward Island has been thronged by members of the community since its opening, evidencing the demand for such a house of worship in a province with population at just 180,000

Devotees in Canada’s smallest province are celebrating the opening of the first Hindu temple there. The Hindu Temple of Prince Edward Island (PEI) opened this month and has been thronged by members of the community since, evidencing the demand for such a house of worship in a province with the population of just 180,000.

“It was really incredible. There was a gap, obviously,” said Krishna Thakur, an academic from the United of Prince Edward Island, who is also president of the Hindu Society of PEI.

The temple opened in a rented space in the town of Cornwall, which is part of the capital region. Thakur said devotees come to the temple from the capital Charlottetown as well as neighbouring Stratford, other than residents of Cornwall.

Thakur, who is originally from Janakpur in Nepal, estimated the Hindu population of PEI at approximately at about 1,800. He said nearly 600 people visited the temple on opening day. He said the Hindu population had grown significantly in recent years with an influx of students to the University of PEI, with other newcomers including fresh permanent residents and professionals.

The Society’s secretary Neethin Rao, who is from Kerala, said the temple has been “well received” within the province with the opening being attended by the mayors of Charlottetown and Cornwall, the local MP as well as members of the legislative assembly.

The temple has no full-time priest, and the rites for its inauguration, on Mahashivratri, were performed by members of the Society, with some of the rituals learnt from online tutorials. That it resulted from a community effort was underlined by Rao, who said not only were there donations that enabled renting the space but food for prasad and bhog were donated by Indo-Canadian restaurants of the region.

“The temple is open for two hours in the evening,” Thakur said, and that’s because it is entirely dependent on volunteers.

Rao said the objective is to acquire land and build a permanent mandir in the future. “Everybody is interested in that and they will definitely help us,” he said.

For now, Thakur said, the community is elated to have its own space to worship, after never having had that facility in the province before. To give it broad appeal, there are various deities at the temple. “We tried to make it as inclusive and representative as possible,” Thakur said.

 

- Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.
 
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