independent

Friday 18 April 2014

From timber homes to god-house

This corrugated factory unit could soon be transformed into Ireland's first Hindu temple to serve the growing numbers of Asian people living here.

Plans are under way to establish a temple in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, to cater for over 300 families living in the town.

The new temple is also expected to boost the local economy by bringing thousands of Hindus from around the country to Donegal.

Indian-born Naidu Yttra, pictured above sitting outside the timber homes factory, has been living in Letterkenny for nearly three years.

He said they had already pinpointed the factory unit as a potential location and he hopes the new temple will be ready as early as December.

"We do not have any place to go and worship around here and if we want to, we have to go to Belfast or Birmingham."

Mr Yttra said that he knows at least 100 Hindu families whose children were born in Ireland. He said, "When my son was born in India we took him to the temple where we had a naming ceremony. Families who have had their children here in Ireland have not been able to do these things, it is the one thing they are missing."

Census figures from 2002 show that there were over 3,000 Hindus in Ireland. Although the 2006 census figures are yet to be published, the number is expected to have grown. Only a small minority of Hindus are ethnically Irish, most are of Asian descent, and the Asian population increased from 28,000 to 55,000 during those four years.

Paurusa Das, a Hindu monk based in Belfast and Fermanagh, said that there were small, unfinished temples in the Republic -- but raising enough money to finish them was the long term goal.

"So we don't really have a temple in the Republic, and a lot of people come up to Belfast, or to Fermanagh where we have a retreat," he said.

"We are getting congregations of 60 to 70 people at the Belfast temple but it would be convenient if people had more temples closer to their homes."

In Letterkenny, several representatives from the Indian community are appealing to the council to subsidise the cost of renting and maintaining a unit in the town centre.

Mr Yttra said, "With so many people coming together it's going to make Letterkenny a tourist spot among Indians in Ireland.

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