Indians in Russia demand Hindu Temple, ahead of PM Modi's visit in July

Indians living in Russia have demanded a Hindu Temple, ahead of Prime Minister Modi's visit in July. The Hindu temple will serve as a religious center, a community, and a hub for Hindus in Russia.
Indians in Russia demand Hindu Temple, ahead of PM Modi's visit in July
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

The Indian Community in Russia has reunited over a religious cause. The president of the Indian Business Alliance and the Indian cultural and national centre“ Sita” Sammy Kotwani expressed his intention to build the first Hindu structure in Russia, Moscow.

Hinduism, the third-largest religion in the world, has seen gradual growth in Russia, a country traditionally known for its Eastern Orthodox Church. Despite a strong Christian population, Hindu temples and community groups have started to appear in Russia. This is a sign of Russia’s evolving religious scene and growing diversity. Hindu cultural centers are important as they represent a safe space for the community. Hindu associations in Russia don't just serve as a religious group, but also as a hub for community-building activities.

Hinduism in Russia: The When and How

Hinduism, mostly prevalent in Southeast Asian countries like Nepal and India, started to appear in Russia around the late 1900s, during a time called perestroika. Perestroika, meaning “restructuring”, was a time period focused on changing the political and economic systems in an attempt to end the era of stagnation. The program welcomes immigrants, people of different ethnicities and religions, to settle and work in Russia. Russians have always been interested in new ideas from the East. Things like Indian books, yoga, and visits from spirituality helped in studying Hindu beliefs in the Soviet Union, which mainly aligned towards atheism during the 1990s.

Hinduism in Moscow

The Russian government has been especially sincere to the Hindu demands, as its relationship with India tightens. Moscow, Russia’s capital, has many spiritual sites, including Hindu structures and community centres. The Indian Community in Moscow has demanded a Hindu temple structure, a mandir, to be built in the capital ahead of PM Modi's visit on July 8, 2024 hold bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin under the much-delayed annual summit mechanism. The cultural structures are not just restricted to the capital, but also spread across Russia, signifying widespread acceptance of Hinduism.

Russia’s law allows people to practice their faith freely, and the same has also been demonstrated by the actions of the government and the local community. The people of the Korsun-Shevchenkivskyi Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church recently welcomed a Hindu festival, reflecting a new openness in people.

There are approx Hindus in Russia, there is a notable presence of ISKCON temples in Moscow and St Petersburg. The ISKCON temple is situated inside a plain building, something the Indian Community wants to change. By demanding a Mandir structure, the Indian Community seeks a fair representation in the country.

The demand also holds significance as it is ahead of the BRICS summit, which will bring Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, and other nations to discuss and deliberate upon world and local issues while emphasizing cooperation and cultural exchange amongst member countries.

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Indians in Russia demand Hindu Temple, ahead of PM Modi's visit in July

Previously, the Indian National Culture Center “SITA” had expressed gratitude to the Russian authorities for considering the historical proposal. They believe that the temple will not only enrich the cultural landscape of Moscow but also serve as a bridge of friendship between Russia and India.

Source: India Today

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