Hindu Center Aims to Build Its Own Home

October 31, 2008

Author: Cynthia Wolfe Boynton

Source: The New York Times


Like most 11-year-olds, Vikram Chaudhuri of Fairfield is more interested in the Internet than he is in ancient Indian traditions.

On a recent Sunday, however, the sixth grader was one of almost 200 people crunched inside the Stratford Unitarian church hall for Krishna Janamashtami — a ceremony that celebrates the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna. Most of them were from India, or had Indian parents.

“It’s interesting even if I don’t understand a lot of what goes on,” the sixth grader said of the traditional Hindu prayers, songs and dances.

The celebration was similar to what most of the older adults in the room experienced growing up in India. And they want to make sure that first and second generation American-born Indians, like Vikram, experience those rituals, too.

The ceremony was organized by the Hindu Cultural Center of Connecticut, and it was held in the church hall, which the center rents. But the goal of the nonprofit organization is to raise $1 million by 2010 to build its own community center and temple. So far, the group has about $300,000 in the bank.

“We are hoping that anyone who shares our dream will help,” said T. C. Nanavati of Orange, who helped found the center in 2002.

At that time, the group of about 12 Fairfield County families held religious services, and other gatherings, in one anothers’ homes. On major holy days, some of them trekked to the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple in Middletown, which opened in 1989 and is still the only one in the state. But the need for a second Hindu center in southern Connecticut quickly became obvious, said Meena Gupta of Stamford, the president of the Hindu Center.