Hindu Temple & Cultural Center of South Carolina

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 5 December 2013.

Phone: 803-772-9650
Email: joshikumarswami@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.hindutemplesc.org/
[flickr_set id="72157621942356188"] The first Hindu families began arriving in Columbia during the early to mid-1970s. At the time when Arunima Sinha, chair of the religious affairs committee, arrived in 1974, there were about 15-20 families in the area. These families would meet together in their houses and apartments to celebrate Hindu holidays or hold worship services. Between 1979 and 1980, the group started to feel a need for a public place and in 1981, the planning to build a local temple began. By 1982, there were around 100-150 families in the Columbia area, and the group was able to purchase land for the temple and begin construction. On April 1, 1984 the temple was completed, but it was not until September 1986 that the murti (images) arrived and were installed in a ceremony. In this ceremony, the murti installed were Krishna and Radha (placed in the center of the temple); Rama and his companions (Sita, Laksmana, Hanuman); Durga; Saraswati; Vishnu with Sri and Bhu; and Ganesha. At that point, one priest came to live at the temple, as life was actually brought into the images during the installation ceremony, making them “vigraha,” living gods requiring daily puja offerings and attendance by a permanent priest. The pranapratistha, or installation ceremony, was performed for Vekatesvara in 1989, Mahavira (the founder of Jainism) in 1992 and Shiva in May 2003.

Twenty Years Later: Expansion and Renovation of Temple

The Hindu community in Columbia now supports a resident priest. For several years the priest lived in a trailer home behind the temple, but in July 2003, the temple acquired the resources to build an addition to the existing temple. (A bhumi puja was held on July 22, 2003.) This addition, the first since the temple's original construction in 1984, included permanent living quarters for the priest, with a guest apartment for visiting speakers, dancers, artists, and other temple guests. The temple also added a large multipurpose building, which includes bathrooms, water fountains, and a large covered outdoor area (like a picnic shelter) used for large communal meals. The yajnasala (outdoor fire altar) was moved from the southeast of the temple to the northeast and enlarged. The yajnasala was opened with a homam, and the new multipurpose building was first used during the weekend of May 7-9, 2004. Large retaining walls were also added around the temple area, and a new staircase to the temple, from the east, was added. In the final phases of the temple renovation, the entrance to the temple will be moved from the north to the east side of the temple, bringing it into accordance with traditional Hindu temple architecture, where entrance from the east (direction of the rising sun) is important. The interior of the temple will be expanded, nearly doubling the original square footage. Parikraman will be constructed around the deities, to enable devotees to circumambulate the statues, and a sikhar will be added to the roof of the temple above the deities, making its outside appearance more in line with traditional Hindu temple architecture, where the vertical tower symbolizes ascension to the divine and enlightenment. A temple library will be added, as well as an enlarged parking lot, with more than double the parking currently available. Clearing the new parking lot has had the added effect of making the temple strikingly visible from Bush River Road, whereas before it was hidden behind many trees and largely unnoticable from the road. This construction marks the first expansion of the temple since its construction in 1984.

Events and Activities

The temple is open every day for darshan, archana and puja. In addition, there are weekly activities like a Shiva puja on Monday nights, a Venkateshvara abhishekam every Saturday morning, and a bhajan and satsang service every Thursday night. The temple also hosts a variety of speakers, lecturers and artists throughout the year, as well as holding large-scale celebrations of major holidays (Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc.) The temple maintains an "upcoming events" list as well as a photographic record of previous events on their website.

Demographics

While the majority of the people at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of South Carolina are from Northern India, many different Indian states are represented in the community. The main languages spoken are Gujarati and Hindi. Most of the community members are doctors, engineers, business owners, or some other type of professional. All age groups are represented in the Hindu community, with at least 30-40 children who participate in the weekly “Sunday school” (Bal Gokulam) during the school year.

Interfaith Relations

The Hindu temple is actively involved in Partners in Dialogue (interfaith dialogue organization based at the University of South Carolina in Columbia). Some women from the temple also participate in an off-shoot of Partners, called Women of Faith.

Researcher credits

Andrea Mills and Alison Prevost, 1998
Updated by Tracy J. Wells, 2003
Furman University, Greenville, S.C.