Hindu Society of Greater Spartanburg

This profile was last updated in 2011

Activities and Schedule

The Society holds SatsangSatsang literally means the “community of the good,” and refers to those who gather together in a religious community for chanting, singing devotional songs called bhajans, study, or community worship. from 5-7 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. There are usually around ten families present. The Society also celebrates many religious and social festivals based on the Hindu calendar. Recent celebrations have included Navariti, DiwaliDivali (also called Dipavali or Diwali) is the autumn festival of lights in the Hindu and Jain traditions. In the Hindu tradition, the festival is in honor of the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Good Fortune, who is invited to be present. In the Jain trad..., JanmashtamiKrishna Janmashtami is the Hindu festival celebrating the birth (janma) of Lord Krishna on the eighth day (ashtami) of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of August/September., GaneshGanesha is the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati and the keeper of the thresholds of space and time, to be honored at the doorway and at the outset of any venture. He is both the “lord of beginnings” and the “remover of obstacles.” Chaturthi, Geeta Jayanti, and many others. Though the Balvihar does not meet on a regular basis, the templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... is quite active in sponsoring children’s programs, such as Rangoli classes and classical and contemporary dance classes.

History

The founder president and current member of the Board of Trustees for the Hindu Society of Greater Spartanburg, Mr. Ashvin Shah, describes his temple community as “a small community with a big dream.” When this community was first established, it consisted of approximately 35 Hindu families meeting for worship and Balvihar in their homes. Indian Hindus in the Spartanburg area first came together in the early 1970s with the formation of the Indian Association. However, the group had minimal activity. In 1984, the Hindu Society of Greater Spartanburg was formed. Worship services had been held at various schools and churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ....

The community desired to build a temple to create a center for youth and community development, providing a space for worship as well as an opportunity to promote learning and preservation of their Hindu heritage. Through donations and fundraising, 8.5 acres of land was purchased in October of 1985, and construction of an 8,000 square-foot hall and temple began in 1989. Construction of a Devasthan started in 2002 and was completed in July of 2006, adding an additional 3,000 square feet to the temple. While Mr. Shah and his family were visiting India in January of 2004, they contacted Pandey MurtiBoth Hindus and Jains honor sacred images called murtis. The term murti means form or likeness, referring to the material form of a deity or divine being as a focus for worship. These images may be temporary or permanently installed, as in a temple. Throu... Museum, a well-reputed supplier of the murtisBoth Hindus and Jains honor sacred images called murtis. The term murti means form or likeness, referring to the material form of a deity or divine being as a focus for worship. These images may be temporary or permanently installed, as in a temple. Throu... for templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... in Jaipur, India, to carve human-size murtis of the Deities from marble of the highest quality. They were commissioned to carve nine murti deity figures to be the centerpieces of the Devasthan. It took an entire year and a half for the figures to be carved from marble slabs, painted, and prepared for installation. A massive week-long dedication celebration for the completion of the Devasthan and the installation of the marble murtis took place at the beginning of August 2006. Smaller marble replicas of the human-sized murtis were paraded around the temple with much fanfare.

There are 150 families in and around Spartanburg who belong to this community. The temple continues to grow, and a full kitchen is currently being installed. While the temple does not yet have a website, it has become an active force in the Spartanburg community. They encourage interfaith dialogue by inviting local college students, churches and local residents to visit the temple and learn about Hindu religion. The temple also gives generously to organizations like the Red CrossThe cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith, pointing to the significance for the church of the whole Christ event: the life and teachings, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. for humanitarian projects and has its own Community Awareness Program. The community’s motto — “if you can dream it, you can have it” — illustrates their desire to continue to contribute to all residents of Spartanburg, South Carolina. 

Leadership

The Hindu Society of Greater Spartanburg is run like a typical organization. Members of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees serve in their elected positions for two years. The two groups decide together when and how to celebrate the Hindu festivals. Mr. Bhamar Trivedi and Mr. Shukla Shidarth are BrahminA brahmin is a member of the priestly class, charged with the duties of learning the Vedas, teaching the Vedas, and performing rituals. It is the highest of the four general castes of Hindu society. priestsA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... who are active at the temple. Both men travel throughout the state performing domestic rituals, marriages, home pujasFor the religious traditions of India, the term puja simply means “worship.. For Hindus, puja is the sequence of hospitality rites through which worshippers honor a deity with offerings such as water, fruit, a coconut, cloth, incense, and an oil lamp, a..., consecration of homes, funerals, and ancestral rites. However, they both hold secular jobs. There is no residential priestA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the..., but there are plans for one. Mr. Ashvin Shah is the executive committee president.

Demographics

The approximately 150 families in the Society are from every part of India, but many, if not the majority, are Gujarati. Most members reside in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties though some members live in Shelby, NC (Shelby is actually closer to Spartanburg than to Charlotte community of Hindus). Some members have joint membership with the Vedic Center in Greenville. The Society asks for $101 per year from each family to pay for regular maintenance, but they stress that anyone is welcome to worship and participate, regardless of membership.

Description

The temple is located in a rural area just outside the city limits of Spartanburg. There are no signs posted outside the temple to indicate what it is. The temple is made of cement brick. Interestingly, because it is outside the city limits, they have a well on their property.

There is a 3,000 square-foot marble Devasthan attached to the temple hall where 9 murtis of the Deities reside. The hand-carved, solid marble murtis are situated in this order from left to right:

(1) Shri DurgaDurga is one of the names of the Devi as consort of Shiva. Both a mother and a warrior, she is especially known for slaying the buffalo demon, Mahisha. Her autumn festival Durga puja or Navaratri is one of North India’s great celebrations. (Amba) Mata riding a lion.

(2) Shri Ram, Laxnan and Seeta with HanumanHanuman is Lord Rama’s foremost devotee and servant. In the epic Ramayana, Hanuman plays a key role in the rescue of Rama’s wife, Sita, after she had been abducted by the demon-king, Ravana. In Hindu temples Hanuman is always present, on bended knee, ... at the feet of Shri Ram.

(3) Shri KrushnaKrishna is one of the most beloved of Hindu Gods, sometimes called an avatara of Vishnu, but widely worshipped in his own right as the Supreme Lord. The stories of Krishna gather together the ancient and heroic cowherd god of India, the adviser to Arjuna ... and Radha.

(4) Shri ShivaShiva is one of the great Gods of the Hindu tradition. The name Shiva means the “Auspicious One,” although Shiva deliberately embraces and transcends what is considered inauspicious as well. He is also called Mahadeva, the “Great Lord,” or Vishvan..., ParvatiParvati is the “mountain born” goddess, daughter of the Himalayas, the spouse of Shiva. and baby Ganeshin on the lap of Parvati.

(5) Full-sized Shri Ganesh. In front of Shri Ganesh are the individual murtis of the Shivaling, Jaladhari, Kurma (turtle) and Nandi (the Ox – conveyance of GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. Shri Shiva).

The murtis have replaced polychrome-framed pictures which were housed in the temporary Devasthan before the installation of this new, permanent Devasthan. A real copy of the famous Indian epic Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta is placed on a pure marble pink lotus flower to the right of the murti of Shri Krushna. Behind the murtis of the deities, a wall mural depicts the scene and universal message of the Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta, where Arjuna discusses his Dharmic (religious) dilemma with Lord Shri Krushna, who guides him as he serves as his charioteer. The murtis of the deities are cared for by various members of the community since there is currently no resident priest.

The entrance to the building is undergoing renovation with the installation of a full kitchen. Additionally the parking lot has been completely paved in asphalt and painted to accommodate parking for about 30 vehicles.

Researcher credits

Andrea Mills and Alison Prevost, 1998

Updated by Benjamin Coleman and Melissa Peterson, 2000

Updated by student Alina Kelman in Dr. Sam Britt’s senior seminar course, Fall 2002

Furman University, Greenville, S.C.

Updated by Amanda Pruitt, research assistant of Dr. Sam Britt, Furman Advantage Research Fellowship, 2010

 

Membership

Approximately 150 families

Ethnic Composition

Indian (all parts of India); Gujarati spoken at the temple