Hindu Temple in Long Island Accused of Unsafe Ritual Fires

Source: The Long Island Voice

On September 29, 1999, The Long Island Voice published an
article on the problems that the Vedic Heritage Shree Hanuman Mandir
temple in Hempstead, New York is having with some community
residents. In June of 1999, a Hempstead police officer responded to a
complaint lodged by a neighbor of the temple who expressed concern
over smoke from fires lit within the temple, which are part of a
three-hour cleansing and prayer ritual called havan. The police
officer came with a building department official and doused the fire,
while issuing temple leader Guru Maa a public-nuisance
summons for lighting an open fire too close to a residence. On
September 15th, 1999, the Hempstead Village Court dismissed the
summons after Guru Maa agreed to light the fires at the back of the
temple property. Guru Maa also met with Hempstead Mayor James Garner
and Police Chief James Russo, who agreed that the offending officer
would write her a letter of apology. In the 16 years since the temple
was founded, Guru Maa had never received a complaint about the ritual
fires, but Paul Klecka, a devotee at Guru Maa’s temple, notes that
the incident occurred shortly after the temple fenced off a strip of
asphalt where neighbors had been accustomed to parking cars.