Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 11 October 2009.Phone: 309-764-1709
Physical DescriptionThe 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 HistoryNow 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.
Initial OrganizationsPartially 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.
Current SituationThough 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.
DemographicsThe 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.
Community OrganizationFor 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.
Activities and ScheduleCurrently, 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.
Interfaith ActivitiesRepresenting 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.