Hindu Temple of Kentucky

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 13 July 2011.

Phone: 502-429-8888
Email: srini@louisville.edu
Website: http://www.kytemple.org/
The Hindu Temple of Kentucky is a building that is easily missed, but not for a lack of uniqueness. The temple is located in the eastern part of Louisville, Kentucky, literally in the middle of a subdivision. The iron arch announcing the temple’s presence is misleading in its simplicity. Up the driveway, visitors are astonished by the sight of a large building with an ornate entryway.

History

The temple was registered as a nonprofit organization in 1985. Prior to that time, area Hindus would meet in one another’s homes to pray. In 1987 the prayer hall was built on land donated by local Hindus. At the time, the area was largely unpopulated—the members had to drive down a long muddy road to reach the prayer hall. Over the following decade, however, the present subdivision grew up around the temple. The muddy road was eventually paved and the driveway shortened to the present temple grounds. The temple building was opened for use in 1999. The older part of the temple—what is now the community meeting room—housed the original temple, which was built in 1987. From 1997-1998 the present temple was constructed as an addition to the older building. This served to protect the deities and the people from the weather. The temple includes a large room housing the deities and their smaller sanctuaries, a shoe room, school rooms, and a large cafeteria/meeting hall. The deities themselves were imported from India, however all of the other architecture was done in the United States by artists who had come over from India.

Description

The temple is open every day of the week for worship. Individuals and families may come to worship at any time the temple is open. There is also an established puja (worship) schedule that provides a monthly cycle of worship for all of the temple’s deities. The temple priests are available to facilitate the members’ worship. They also provide specific services such as weddings, engagements, and ground breakings.

Programs and Activities

As a way of educating children on how to be American Hindus, the temple runs a weekly temple school for the children. This program meets once a week and is run by about six stay at home mothers. Around 170 children are involved in this education program that combines language teaching, text studies, and Hindu values teaching. Several languages are taught at the school, including Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Sanskrit. The goal of the Sanskrit education is to teach the children enough to recite the prayers and texts correctly. Text studies center on major Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabarata. The major Hindu values stressed in the school pertain mostly to marriage; the teachers stress lasting marriages and not having children out of wedlock. What is the overarching purpose of the school? Providing answers to the children. One member mentioned that when he was a boy in India, he would follow the religious practices that his parents instructed him to, largely because most around him were following similar practices. In America, however, he says that the children want to know why they are doing what they are, and this school is an attempt to answer some of those questions. Despite the fact that this community is centered on family and individual practice, there has been a great amount of response to the temple school. There is no room for new students and the community is thinking about building a new education wing on the temple.

Demographics

The temple is the only one in the Louisville area, and draws families from Lexington, Bowling Green, Indianapolis, and eastern Kentucky. While the Lexington community is trying to build a temple, the Hindu Temple of Kentucky is still the main temple in the Kentucky area. The temple boasts a membership of 1400 families, not including students and single people. While all are welcome to the temple, the majority of the members are Indian immigrants and their descendents.

Interfaith Outreach and Education

The Hindu temple is also very involved in interfaith work with the community as well as education. The Hindu Temple of Kentucky works with The Center for Interfaith Relations, formerly the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, to educate the Louisville community about religious traditions in the area. They have also had school children visit the temple on field trips, and some members have been asked to speak to local university classes about Hinduism. Temple members stress that their experience in Louisville has been very positive, despite the events of 9/11. While many Hindus in America have experienced discrimination since 2001, the Hindu Temple of Kentucky experienced no negative reactions from the wider community. After the events of that day, the Temple took up a collection from local members to contribute to the relief fund, raising $30,000. Temple members also held special services for those affected by the attacks.

Schedule

Summer hours (April through October) for the temple are weekdays 9-11 AM and 6-9 PM, weekends 9 AM- 2 PM and 3-9 PM. Winter hours (November through March) are weekdays 9-11 AM and 6-8 PM, weekends 9 AM- 2 PM and 3-9 PM.