With an estimated one billion followers, Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion. Rooted in the spiritual and philosophical practices of India, it is a way of life that guides the familial, societal, and cultural principles of those who practice it. It has its own beliefs, traditions, ethics, rituals, and theology.
In December 2009, the Madison-based American Hindu Association opened the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Wisconsin in Fitchburg. Located at 2138 South Fish Hatchery Road, it operates on a bucolic, 10-acre tract of land, where it provides weekly services, sermons and spiritual connections to members from such diverse countries as Sri Lanka and Nepal.
The temple provides leadership and resources for the area’s Hindu community, promotes the principles of Hinduism, organizes support systems, and offers teachers and scholars a venue to discuss related topics.
“Our temple and center and association are here to enhance our understanding of Hinduism,” said Rita Singh, president of the American Hindu Association. “Our vision and plan is that we will become a larger, more visible community presence.”
The quiet, secluded parcel in Fitchburg is an idyllic place that accommodates the spiritual and social needs of Hinduism’s local adherents. It is now a meeting place for cultural activities, pujas, seminars, and camps. In the future, it will include a library, a computer room, a conference room, and a serious place to hone Yoga and meditation skills.
“Our organization has grown so much here,” said Singh, “and it became evident that we needed a facility large enough to accommodate our activities. What we are doing here is a true community endeavor.”
Singh says that the new facility demonstrates the non-profit American Hindu Association’s commitment to the betterment of humanity, and she believes it will help foster a better overall quality of life in Dane County through its focus on cooperation, goodwill, and mutual coexistence.
Indeed, the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center welcomes and encourages people of all ages to attend one of their weekly meetings or regular activities. Singh says that she hopes that younger generations will come to learn the spiritual value of Hinduism.
“We have Bala-Gokulam classes for kids and youth in the Madison area,” said Singh. “It’s an opportunity for kids and adults to learn and practice the Hindu way of life, and for them to develop social awareness and have fun.”
She stressed that the sacred scriptures of Hinduism contain instructions on all aspects of life and have a strong influence on the artistic, political, philosophical, and social behaviors of its practitioners. To Singh, understanding the rich spiritual heritage of Hindu philosophy is valuable, but to be able to teach it to others is divine. “This center will provide many opportunities for the community to learn about Hindu culture and spirituality,” Singh concluded.