Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Sacred Space Tour — Hindu Temple of Central Indiana

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Experts from CIC’s Speakers Bureau

  • Andrea R. Jain — IUPUI Professor of Religious Studies who specializes in South Asian religions in contemporary culture and the transnational construction and global popularization of modern yoga
  • Chad Bauman — Chair of Butler’s Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Classical Studies Program who writes extensively about Hindu-Christian relations

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Sunday April 12
2:00-4:00 pm

Hindu Temple of Central Indiana
3350 N German Church Rd,
Indianapolis, IN 46235

Contact: Anita Joshi, [email protected]

We have a a great chance to learn about Hinduism on Sunday April 12. At 9:30 am CIC Founding Board Chair Don Knebel kicks of his five part series “Images of the Divine” with “Round and Round We Go,” a discussion of Hinduism. The talk will be at Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 North Meridian Street.

Then in the afternoon go for the tour of the newly expanded Hindu temple, the first in the Center for Interfaith Cooperation’s Sacred Spaces tour.

The Indianapolis Star has a very good article about the expansion of the Hindu temple. It is a masterpiece of art and architecture, a splendid addition to the Central Indiana religious and cultural landscape.

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Stephani Wang, “$10M expansion of Indy Hindu temple to open in June,” Indianapolis Star Thursday, March 19 2015

Barefoot on the faded and worn red carpet, the devotees gathered to pray under a clanging bell.

Facing an altar filled with gold deities and singing in Hindi, they offered a tray of burning candles to God. Later, they waved their hands over the candles, to take the light and blessings to spread over themselves.

For nearly 10 years, much of Indianapolis’ growing Hindu population has worshipped in a temporary space — a functional yet spartan building, so unlike the intricately ornate temples in India.

But in June, the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana will unveil a long-awaited, $10 million expansion. It will add a worship hall that includes 17 shrines, with a skylight surrounded by four new carved towers that transform the sand-colored building into a more recognizable temple silhouette.

“It’s a sign that we’re putting down roots in Indiana — permanent roots,” said temple board vice chair Arun Jain.

The temple, which has two multilingual priests, is meant to appeal to different sects within Hinduism, Jain said. In India, different groups of Hindus would have their own temples, but here in Indianapolis they can come together in one place.

“We really want to be all-inclusive and cater to all communities within the Hindu community,” he said.

The Hindu temple draws 1,000 devotees on holidays, Jain said, a membership that he expects to eventually quadruple with the larger space.

Hinduism is the main religion in India and Nepal. Its believers look to one God who takes many forms, and their morals come from the concepts of dharma and karma.

Dozens of devotees attended a recent Sunday noon service at the Indianapolis temple, and Jain said many also have altars at home for daily prayers.

Bordered by a cornfield along the edge of Lawrence and Warren townships, the temple at 3350 N German Church Road opened in 2006. It provided a place of worship for Hindus who used to have to travel to temples in Chicago; Dayton, Ohio; or Louisville, Ky.

Indiana now has other temples, including ones in Avon, Merrillville, Lafayette and Fort Wayne.

With the expanded Hindu Temple of Central Indiana, the temporary worship hall will be converted to a dining area where devotees will share meals after services.

The new worship space features three main shrines directly underneath three of the 99-foot concrete-and-mortar towers. A fourth tower stands over the main entrance.

In the entry hall, the Hindu god Vishnu greets devotees with 20 faces and arms to symbolize all his forms. Lakshmi, a god representing wealth and prosperity, sits over the door.

The multiple shrines inside, some modeled after famous temples in India, will allow people to honor their communities’ most important deities.

For example, one shrine is devoted to Krishna, a popular deity in north and northeast India, and another is for South India’s Rahm.

“It’s like 17 different temples all in one place,” said Sathya M. Thulasiraman, project manager and temple volunteer.

The Hindu Temple of Central Indiana will hold five days of ceremonies June 3-7 to consecrate the new space and bless the stone sculpture deities that will be installed in the temple. Priests on cranes will bless the new towers, with the plan calling for helicopters to drop flowers and holy water from the sky.

The worship space is “long overdue,” said Ramachandran Veeraraghavan, a West Lafayette resident who toured the construction at the temple this week.

He said having a bigger, decorated temple will deepen faiths.

For Hindus, “the first step is devotion to God,” he said. “For that, we need a place.”

Temple officials and devotees also agreed that the expanded temple will help develop the beliefs of new generations of American-born Hindus, to connect them with their cultures.

In the basement of the Hindu temple, 150 children attend Sunday school to learn more about Hinduism.

They joined their families for a service this week, some parents holding them in their arms as they sang a prayer. After the prayer, devotees waited in line to receive holy water from the priest. Parents cupped their hands around their children’s hands to help them raise the water to sip and sprinkle over their heads.

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