Hindu Temple Fosters Values

May 22, 2007

Author: Vern Barnet

Source: The Kansas City Star


You are a Hindu priest in Kansas City. What brought you here? What do you do? And can you help me sort out various terms for religious leaders?

I put such questions to the two priests at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Shawnee. The temple began in 1991, and its growth now requires plans to expand the building.

Shastri Rajendra Pandya and Seshasai Rompicharla come from priestly families in India.

Pandya, born near Mohandas Gandhi’s hometown of Porbandar, saw the spreading of his faith and culture to the West and recognized the need Hindus here have for priestly services. Before coming to the United States, he served in Canada.

Rompicharla has several family members also serving in the West. He came to Kansas City from Dallas.

A Hindu priest offers puja, rituals of divine homage, on behalf of individuals and families as they come to the temple throughout the week, for which his exacting knowledge of Sanskrit is required. He may also perform such services for the sick, to dedicate a new house, and to preside at weddings and funerals.