Quad City Hindu Temple

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 11 October 2009.

Phone: 309-764-1709
Email: kirti@yash.com
Website: http://www.qchindutemple.org

Physical Description

The Quad City Hindu community currently has no purpose-built temple. Thus, much of the religious activity of individual Hindu families takes place at home. Small groups have also formed around regional, devotional, or linguistic lines which take turns meeting at members' houses, and banquet halls are often rented to host larger events such as the annual Divali celebration. Plans to change this situation are currently under way however as the community has purchased a parcel of land with the intent of building a proper temple. These plans have already moved through the preliminary stages and a Bhoomi Puja (groundbreaking ceremony) should be held by November or December of 2004.

Early History

Now comprising the majority of the Quad Cities Indian population, Hindus began appearing in the area in the mid-1970s. Most of these newcomers had already spent substantial amounts of time in other portions of the United States as students or in professional training programs. Following a pronounced trend among Indian students in the 1960s and 1970s, many simply decided to stay and look for opportunities in the country following the completion of their formal education. Alongside this commitment to stay in America came a new sense of permanence which was reflected by the appearance of Hindu families in the area. Thus, by the mid-1980s, the Quad Cities already possessed a small but thriving Indian community comprised primarily of young professional families.
Throughout much of this early period, spiritual activity was overwhelmingly centered on the private practice of puja and prayer. On special occasions, most families would make the two to three hour drive to celebrate at Hindu temples in Chicago or St. Louis. In addition to these activities, in 1976, a small group of Hindu doctors and their families began meeting in a Davenport, IA Unitarian Church with the purpose of forming a more cohesive organization which could address the concerns of the growing community. In particular, the need for more educational opportunities and a permanent temple structure were becoming increasingly apparent as many first generation children approached school age.

Initial Organizations

Partially in response to these concerns, some Hindus in the Quad Cities founded the Friends of India Association as a secular organization which would promote Indian artistic and cultural forms and meet some of the community’s broader educational needs. Through Friends of India, the Quad Cities community has been able to provide classical dance lessons, language classes, musical training, and other periodic events for area Indians and South Asians. However, because the organization included Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs among its ranks, many of the more overtly religious needs of the community remained unfulfilled.
As the Quad Cities Hindu Community continued to grow, regional and sect-based divisions began to arise. One resulting organization known as the Sai Center was founded by devotees of Sai Baba to supplement the religious void left by the secular nature of the Friends of India Association. Monthly meetings of the group center on discussions of the Bhagavad-Gita, singing devotional hymns, and planning philanthropic activities such as feeding the homeless at local shelters. In addition, around this time certain Gujarati families in the area began holding annual gatherings and providing specialized, regional-based education to youth. Other distinctive ethnic or linguistic traditions with large local populations soon followed in organizing their own sub-groups to articulate more specific community interests.

Current Situation

Though this geographic and sectarian splintering of the Hindu population is an unavoidable result of overall community growth, it has not prevented large-scale pan-Indian celebrations from taking place. As one example of such a celebration, hundreds of Indian families from the Quad Cities and surrounding regions gather each year to celebrate Divali at a local reception hall. These events give area Hindus the opportunity to meet and celebrate elaborate pujas and ceremonies which would be impossible for smaller groups to orchestrate.
Most recently, plans for the construction of a Quad Cities Temple building have materialized. As the result of years of planning throughout the 1990s, the community has been able to elect a temple board, investigate the need for a temple building, secure land, and begin construction on the project. The temple will represent a pan-Indian Hinduism and hold images of deities from several regional traditions. In this way, it is hoped that the facility will accommodate the diversity of religious thought represented in the Quad Cities Hindu population. Most importantly, the temple will create a community space for daily and weekly worship, education, social and business meetings, celebrations, and other special events. It is anticipated that the completion of this project will herald a new beginning for Quad Cities Hindus, marked by increased organization, cooperation, and religious enthusiasm.


The Quad Cities are a cluster of cities strattling the Mississippi River on the Iowa/Illinois border with a combined population of around 350,000. The Hindu population of the Quad Cities is divided fairly evenly between the four major cities and outlying areas and is overwhelmingly of Indian origin with Malaysians, West Indians, East Africans, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, and Caucasian Americans also comprising smaller portions of the community. Very little emphasis is placed on proselytization, though dialogue with local religious and spiritual groups such as the Unitarian Church occasionally does take place. Due in part to its larger size, the Indian portion of the community is often split further into regional or traditional groupings. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh are acknowledged as two states with the largest number of Hindu immigrants represented in the Quad Cities, but the community is also commonly split into northern and southern Hindu ritual practice groupings. Additionally, area Jains often attend Hindu devotional gatherings and celebrations as they do not yet possess a distinct and organized community of their own. Though the Jains undeniably represent a unique religious group, they are generally welcomed and encouraged to participate in regional Hindu activities.
Similar to other area religious groups comprised mainly of immigrants, Quad Cities Hindus most often arrive in the area after living in one or two other U.S. cities. For this reason and because Hindus living in the region tend to be highly educated, those interviewed reported very little difficulty in adjusting to life in the Quad Cities. Expressing this observation, one interview subject responded, “Hindus are pretty versatile people. We make friends all over [because] communication is the most important thing, and most of the guys who come here speak pretty good English. So, I never encountered any guy having trouble communicating...My friends are physicians [and] speak eloquent English.”

Community Organization

For the majority of its history, Hindu religious observance in the Quad Cities has varied widely in ideology and practice. This variation may stem from the vast diversity of religious practice represented by northern, southern, and even Jain traditions. Recently, however, the push to construct the area's first Hindu Temple has amalgamated greater interest in a more generalized Hindu community. Along these lines, a temple board comprised of a president, vice president, secretary, joint-secretary, treasurer, joint-treasurer, and board of directors was formed in the late 1990s with members from across the community’s demographic spectrum. From this core group, the Hindu leadership is better able to discern and articulate community concerns and interests and make plans for future events or projects. The development of the temple board will then facilitate greater unity and participation between various dimensions of the Quad Cities Hindu community.
In addition to a temple board representing broader community issues, several small groups have developed over the years to reflect specific regional or sectarian interests. Groups such as the Gujarati society and Sai Center are not intended to be replaced by the formation of the new Hindu temple, but rather should function as sub-groups providing specialized services to augment the temple’s more generalized religious practice. It is hoped that the temple, when completed, will be able to accommodate these groups with meeting space and larger community support.

Activities and Schedule

Currently, the Quad Cities Hindu Temple does not provide its members with any regular worship or gathering schedule. Accordingly, the vast majority of Hindu practice is carried out by families or groups of families in private homes. This practice is augmented by small sub-groups such as the Sai Center which meets twice per month to sing devotional hymns and discuss the Bhagavad-Gita. Also, informal educational opportunities such as Vedic classes, language training, and classical art and dance classes are offered periodically to children in the community by members with knowledge of such topics. However, for most Hindus living in the Quad Cities, religion is private matter undertaken daily inside the home.
One major exception to this rule comes during festival times such as Divali and the upcoming Bhoomi Puja or groundbreaking ceremony when hundreds of Hindu families gather from around Quad Cities area and surrounding regions to perform special religious ceremonies and celebrate with singing, dancing, and food. Though community members were unsure when asked what festivals would be celebrated in the new temple, one interviewee optimistically commented, “Once the temple is established there will be several...festivals...surrounding [particular gods]...There is a festival for Krishna; similarly there is a festival for Rama...Then a third one is Ganesha, the elephant God...Many festivals are earmarked for different deities so yes, there will be several festivals.”

Interfaith Activities

Representing a substantial portion of the Quad Cities Indian and South Asian population, the area Hindu community also seeks to participate in various interfaith activities from time to time. The Friends of India Association comprises one area where interfaith and inter-religious dialogue has traditionally taken place by regularly combining the local Indian Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Jain populations for social and cultural events. Apart from inter-South Asian community contact, one Hindu woman has begun a local project to teach a course on interfaith and Eastern spirituality to interested area residents. Similarly, the Davenport Unitarian Church has periodically served as a forum for cultural and religious dialogue with the wider Quad Cities population. Participation in annual activities such as the yearly 9/11 memorial service in Davenport has also increased wider interest in and recognition of the local Hindu community.
Due in part to this history of civic involvement, the many Hindus in this study highlighted the kindness and concern shown towards them following 9/11. No instances of prejudice or discrimination were ever mentioned as community members repeatedly stressed the loyalty and compassion displayed by many of their friends and acquaintances. Ultimately, these experiences reflect the widely held patriotic sentiment and feeling of belonging in the Quad Cities prevalent among area Hindus. As one interview subject remarked, “This is a beautiful country. We never encountered [adversity] because most of my friends know who I am...and the community knows them [too]...I did not encounter anybody against us. In fact that shows what a wonderful country it is, its open mindedness.”