First Hindu Temple in NWA Celebrates its Grand Opening
The first Hindu temple in Northwest Arkansas held its grand opening Sunday in Bentonville to help serve thousands of people who are part of the region’s Indian community.
“You never know in the heat of summer how many people are willing to come out here, and I think it’s a testament of how excited the community is,” said Niru Raghavan, president of the Hindu Association of Northwest Arkansas (HANWA).
Before this temple, the Hindu community, estimated to be around 2,500 people, met in each others’ homes to take part in the rituals.
The temple is the result of a vision that was twelve years in the making. The land on SW Regional Airport Boulevard was purchased in 2009, and the groundbreaking took place in 2011. Raghavan said HANWA took out a $550,000 loan for the construction.
The 4,000-square foot building will also serve as a community center.
“The structure is a square-shaped temple, which is not very typical, but this way it serves multiple purposes for us,” Raghavan said.
At Sunday’s celebration, shoes were left outside of the temple to show respect; and once inside, feet and hands were washed as is customary to maintain the temple’s cleanliness.
Outside the temple was an outdoor tent where rituals took place, such as what the Hindu religion calls Kalasams, a preparatory ritual to enter the temple.
There was also an outdoor seating area, where many waited Sunday to enter the new temple.
“So even if you can’t be in the temple, because not everyone can be in the temple at once, you can still see what’s going on as well,” Raghavan said.