Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 27 August 2015.Phone: 706-860-3864 (office); 706-863-6976 (office)
DescriptionAugusta has an estimated Hindu population of one thousand, according to one member. While the numbers of Hindus and Indian Americans make up a relatively small percentage of the total metropolitan area, the Indian population is especially concentrated in areas such as suburban Columbia County, which has a reputation for good public schools. One particular upper-middle-class Columbia County housing subdivision, for example, is home to an estimated one hundred Indian American families.
DemographicsAccording to Sathyanarayana, the temple’s priest, approximately four hundred families are affiliated with the HTS. Some may also be members of other religious centers in town, such as the Sikh gurdwaras or the Swaminaryan Temple. Indeed, some Christian Indian families attend cultural events at HTS. The vast majority of members are of Indian descent, although there are a few Caucasian members, and a small minority who are Indians from Africa, particularly Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania. Approximately forty-five members of the HTS are estimated to be practicing Jains.
Activities and ScheduleThe HTS gathers as a congregation for pooja, or prayer service, every third Sunday of the month, at 10:00 a.m. This is the most broadly attended service at HTS, and ten families sign up in advance for cooking the meal that follows it. In addition, every Monday evening at 7 p.m. there is a Shiva pooja (specifically directed at the deity Shiva), which is typically attended by 90-100 people. Other poojas are scheduled regularly in accordance to the Hindu almanac. In the month of August 2004, for example, there are at least two scheduled each week, including poojas honoring Ganesh, Devi, and Balaji/Rama. There is also a separate Jain pooja.
Organizational StructureDecisions at the HTS are made by the Executive Committee (for day to day business) and the ten-member Board of Trustees (for longer term concerns). The Executive Committee includes offices such as president, secretary, and media relations, and is composed of subcommittees for sports, youth activities, publications, and cultural activities, among others.
HistoryThe first known Hindus in the Augusta area arrived in the 1960s, and were predominantly physicians and Ph.D.s and their families, who arrived to take faculty positions at the expanding Medical College of Georgia. By the late 1970s, a group of families had come together to form a local temple. The Hindu Temple Society was officially established in 1979.
Description of the CenterThe Hindu Temple is located east of the city of Augusta. The road it is situated on is small and wooded, lined with modest manufactured homes and unpaved driveways. A cardboard sign indicating “Hindu Temple” marks the turn for visitors. The HTS itself is a sizeable campus with large parking lots, two smaller buildings near to the street – the priest’s house and the old temple – and the prominent main temple, lined with magnolia trees, sitting further off the road.
ChallengesA current discussion at the HTS is how to separate out the temple’s religious and ritual functions from its social and cultural functions, according to members. In the temple’s early, smaller years the two functions were intertwined by necessity. As the HTS has grown more established, however, there has been a greater push not to blur the two, and how best to determine what activities fall under which category.