By Betsy Thorpe
On Saturday, September 27, the Sri Ganesha Temple in Bellevue and the Hindu Cultural Center Of Tennessee celebrated the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi with their annual “Festival of India”. Gandhi, known as the Father of India was born in India on October 2, 1869, and he devoted his adult life to teaching peaceful resistance as a method of affecting change. The annual Festival held on the Temple grounds celebrates the teachings of Ghandi and the diversity and unity of modern day India.
Attendees at this years festival were provided with voter registration information and with assistance in filling out voter registration forms. Visitors sampled food from various regions in India and they also participated in Temple tours that included informative lectures on Indian history, geography, language, culture and religion. Craft exhibits, henna painting demonstrations and activities designed for children were popular stops at the festival.
A large number of Indian immigrants arrived in the United States in the early 1960’s when special visa’s were granted to doctors and other professional people. Soon other immigrants followed and many were drawn to the South, particularly to Middle Tennessee where the climate is similar to that in many parts of India. The local Sri Ganesha community was established in 1985 and in 1991 more than ninety temple artisans and craftsmen arrived in Nashville from India with temporary visa’s to work with local architects and builders to construct the temple that now stands on Old Hickory Boulevard in Bellevue. Construction of the Temple was completed in 1992. Renovations on the first level of the Temple were recently completed, the renovations include a larger shoe room and a granite floor in the foyer. A little more than five acres on the southern border
of the Temple’s property were recently purchased to accommodate the needs of the growing Sri Ganesha
Today more than fifteen thousand local devotees, and visiting worshipers from as far away as Atlanta and Louisville attend services at the Temple. The Temple staff includes five priests who officiate services daily.
The Temple is also a place for social, cultural and educational functions. Concerts by well known Indian performers, are often held inside the Temple. At a concert in June, the audience was moved by the sincere presentation of Hindustani classical music delivered by vocalist Paramita Das. Classes for adults and children are offered at the Temple, including language programs that offer reading and writing instruction,Yoga classes and Bhagavadgita discussion classes. Workshops in “innovative topics” provide a cultural foundation for the communities children and are designed to help them understand the people of India, and to encourage their development and growth in their faith and culture.
Later this year the Hindu Cultural Center will partner again with other local religious groups and Habitat For Humanity to build homes in Davidson County. Many members of the Sri Ganesha community look forward to working “with people from all walks of life, to develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses in order to create homes”.
The Sri Ganehsa Temple, located at 527 Old Hickory Boulevard, is open everyday and visitors are welcome. For information on attending a service or a class or to arrange a tour of the Temple call 356-7207.