April 12, 2014
Chaitra Shukla Paksha Trayodashi, Kaliyug Varsha 5116
Dunedin’s Sathya Sai Baba Hindu group members worship at household altars like this one as they do not have an official temple or prayer room. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
Members of Dunedin’s Hindu community believe having their own temple would strengthen the community as a whole.
Currently, Dunedin’s Hindu community is fragmented into several groups.
There is no Hindu temple in Dunedin, so Hindus meet to pray at altars in their homes.
Since there is only one Pundit/ Pujari (Hindu Priest) in Dunedin, and this priest can only perform a limited amount of functions, out of town pundits have to be brought in for occasions such as marriages and funerals.
Members of the Hindu community, spoken to by the Star, were supportive of the idea of having a Hindu prayer room or temple but said this would require a large amount of effort and fundraising.
Some thought it would not happen until Dunedin’s Hindu population became larger.
Dunedin Hindu Social and Cultural Organisation co-ordinator Kala Grebneff founded the group 20 years ago. She learned the procedure for reading the Ramayan (Hindu Holy Book) from a visiting pundit from Sydney.
Initially, her group met weekly in the OUSA clubs and societies building but it became too difficult to bring along the required instruments, holy book, statues, and other items, on her own every week.
Now the weekly meetings are held in the homes of different group members.
Mrs Grebneff said it was especially difficult to find places to host Hindu festivals as many people did not have the space in their homes. Because of the limited space, the events were usually not widely advertised.
Some festivals lasted at least three days and could not be moved once they started. It had been impossible to book the OUSA facilities for such long periods of time.
There were a significant number of Hindus in Dunedin but Mrs Grebneff believed many of them did not know about the various Hindu religious and cultural groups because they were promoted only through word of mouth.
If Dunedin’s Hindus got together to made a temple, or if anyone was willing to provide a space the groups could use, it would make the community a lot stronger, she said.
If a large space was available, the gatherings could be advertised bringing more people and therefore donations which could be used to fund the space.
Dunedin Hindu Carthika Luxmanan believed there would need to be a push from the community for a temple to be created.