During our experiences with the Hindu Temple and Community Center of Michiana, we were introduced to Raj*, a community member and founder of the Temple. Raj told us about the Hindu faith and the inner-workings of the Hindu religion. We were fascinated by his explanation of Hinduism and wanted to learn more about it. We decided to interview Raj and ask about Holi, his experience with the temple, and his personal outlook on how the Temple will fare for future generations.
Kathryn: So on a scale of large to small, would you say Holi is large and significant, or is it a smaller celebration?
Raj: No. I actually didn’t even mention Holi [in our list of religious holidays] because Holi is more of a social function than a religious function.
Raj: So that is why [it was not mentioned before]. [At Holi] We have the bonfire. People will go there and stand outside and after that they will come in, again, We will have Aarti. Remember, Aarti [occurs] everyday at 7 PM.
Raj: And then we will have prasad. I even did not mention this. Holi is more of a social gathering rather than a religious gathering, but we can say it is mixed. The other functions, as I told you, they were solely on a religious basis.
Raj: But Holi is kind of half and half. It is a social festival, as well as a religious festival. So, if [Holi] counts, we have several large functions.
Kathryn: So, are there any generational differences in how Holi is celebrated, or how other Hindu holidays are celebrated? How might young people celebrate these holidays versus older generations?
Raj: Yes, probably. I think that may be true. What we are noticing here is that our younger kids, the younger generation, follow what the parents are doing. So, they will come to the temple because [their] parents are coming. From the devotional point of view— from the religious attachment point of view— I am not sure. In fact I can tell you that their attachment towards the religious issues and ideas may be less than [those] who were born and brought up in India.
So [younger Hindus] do know that the Temple is here, and to come to the Temple, but they do not come for regular visits. They will come when they’re in town, but they will certainly not come on regular visits, and that may be true in other Hindu communities within the USA. There may be certain groups where the parents tell their children to follow the religious activities more closely. There are also certain groups, depending on which region of India they are from, that may follow less closely, but it is what it is. I can tell you that the next generation is probably less attached. They do come to the temple, but just to visit on special occasions [such as] large festivals. And, the following generations may even deteriorate substantially because […] they’re all blended into the local American community. So in that way, there are differences, and there will be differences [between] the way that the younger Indians or Hindus, celebrate or participate in our festivals than the generation which was born and brought up in India.
Kathryn: Oh okay. So, what do you think the future of the Temple will be, as more generations celebrate slightly different because of blending into American culture? Do you think the way [Holi] is celebrated will change, or the way the Temple is run will change?
Raj: The way the Temple is run is certainly going to change because we have a system where we have elections. The Temple will continue working because if you go to the larger cities within the USA, there have been Temples as old as fifty, sixty, seventy years old and they are continuing [to run]. So, what [will happen] is that there [will be] a mix [of] younger generations who […] have less religious attachments to the Temple, [and] more Hindus who come from India [and] all over the world [who] have deeper attachments [to their religion]. It will continue, and people have faith that it will continue.The chances of ceasing or stopping a Temple location, [while] it does happen every now and then, is less and less.
Kathryn: Yes. We’re hoping it stays open. It’s amazing!
Raj: Yes, right. And remember one important thing. This is for the community. So that is why this Temple will continue, the chances are extremely, extremely high after ten years, fifteen years, twenty years. See, the leadership teams will change, but they will continue it. Their policies may change. The way of thinking will change, but since it is for the community, it will continue. This Temple does not belong to a particular family or a particular group. It belongs to the entire community.
*Approval for this interview was granted by Raj, for the interview content only, found on consent form four.
**Approval for this photograph was granted by the community representative found on the general consent form, or consent form one.