Hundreds packed a former union hall in Hamtramck today for the opening of a Hindu temple, reflecting the growth in the community in metro Detroit.
Special prayers were held inside the Bangladesh Hindu Temple, which reopened Sunday after a fire destroyed their previous building in 2006 a few blocks away. In front of an image of Goddess Durga, a priest conducted services followed by a lunch of blessed food and religious singing.
"We feel very good, wonderful," said Hari Dutta, a Troy resident who is president of the temple. "This is very important for us."
The temple was founded by Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country where Hindus are in the minority. Dutta said the membership of the new temple is largely working-class and so it took them some time to obtain a new building and reopen the temple.
"For five years we had no place," said Dutta.
The temple was founded in 2002, but a fire ripped through the building, which was also in Hamtramck. The cause of the blaze was investigated by federal agents, but the cause remains unknown.
Temple members said they want to be able to practice their faith and pass on their traditions.
"We're trying to help the future generations practice the Hindu religion," said Debabrata Dey of Detroit.
The temple is the second Hindu center in metro Detroit that consists of Bengali-speaking members.
"We're trying to keep the culture alive for our kids," said Biswajit Devnath, of Hamtramck. "If we don't do this, they won't know their religion. This is a place where they can come on the weekends."
The building is close to the American Axle manufacturing plant and was purchased from the UAW.
Inside the temple is a colorful display of Durga, considered a female embodiment of the divine spirit.