For nearly 45 years, the Bharatiya Temple at Metropolitan Detroit, Troy, has been the center of Michigan’s Hindu culture and worship.
Founded in 1977, it is the oldest Hindu temple in the state, and it was built in 2012 to accommodate the growing community.
As the Bharatiya temple grew internally, so did its activities with local interfaith communities.
“At least 20 years ago, some Founders on the Board of Trustees felt the need to connect with the community at large and started offering temple tours and talking about the basics of Hinduism to people. groups, ”says temple member Narayanaswamy Sankagiri.
From there, the temple outreach committee was formed with the mission of leading the Hindu community in interfaith activities in the Detroit metro area.
Sankagiri took over as chair of the temple outreach committee six years ago.
“Temple has partnered with the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit since the inception of IFLC,” Sankagiri said. “This is the first Hindu temple to host the Religious Diversity Travel Program for middle school students. In addition, participate in the World Sabbath program and the annual fundraising event, among other programs and events.
Most recently, IFLC hosted the “Meet the Murthis” event at the temple on Thursday, October 21, led by Sankagiri. Murthis is a general term used to describe an image or statue of a deity in Hindu culture.
Visitors present will meet in the temple rotunda and, as is customary, remove their shoes before entering the sacred area where deities are worshiped. The temple of Bharatiya has seven main deities and several minor deities.
From there, Sankagiri will introduce the basis of Hindu worship and each deity. The group will then be guided into a classroom to discuss Hindu philosophy.
“I wish it was more of a conversation,” he said. “There are some misconceptions about Hinduism that non-worshipers might not understand. This is why it is important to invite other people into the community. I like to share what I know with others.
The basis of the Hindu faith is logical and conceptual and contains the concepts of dharma and karma. Dharma refers to lifelong duty, and karma refers to everyday action, in which every action has a corresponding result.
Hinduism is the third most popular religion in the world – just behind the Christian and Muslim religions – with around 1.6 billion followers worldwide. Unlike Islam, which has the Koran, or Christianity, which has the Bible, Hinduism does not have just one holy book.
“There is no one prophet or one guide,” Sankagiri says. “It’s not even about beliefs – it’s about doing, it’s about life. He has excellent logic and practical practice.
Hinduism is also considered to be one of the oldest religions in the world. So much so that scholars find it difficult to trace it back to its original roots.
By opening the doors of the temple to outside communities, Sankagiri hopes to remove any stigma Western society may have.
“There’s nothing exotic about it,” he said. “It is a living and breathing practice and I hope to build bridges and a dialogue, where people understand the philosophical bases.”
For more information on the Bharatiya Temple in Metropolitan Detroit, visit bharatiya-temple.org.