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Hindu Federation does soul searching

Founding Fathers: Pictured above are some of the progenitors and main pillars of the Federation of Hindu Temples of Canada who met in an “Open Forum” last Friday to discuss matters germaine to their existence.
Pix by Manshad Mohamed

By Manshad Mohamed

Toronto — The Federation of Hindu Temples of Canada has vowed to actually implement the plans it has made over the past seven years since it came into being. Stressing the need for preservation of Hindu religious values, the Federation’s Open Forum last Friday at the Ram Mandir in Mississauga found that it was necessary for it to be recognized in the wider community not only as a religious body but also as a viable force in terms of economics, politics, trade and communication.
Representatives of 15 temples participated in discussions on various issues.
Prominent member of the Hindu community and social activist Vishnu Sookar made the observation that Hindus “are lacking in cohesion to speak with one voice.” The Federation decided to work towards correcting this anomaly and to seek meaningful representation as a community here in Canada and further afield in different areas of activities.
A representative of the Federation’s Youth arm, Vishal Dargi felt that the Federation’s role should be one of “defending our culture, heritage and to present our identity to the world.”
But it was Pandit Roopnath Sharma’s stimulating presentation with the aid of photographs and video clips that noticeably motivated the audience. His emphasis was on building a community center and a home for senior citizens. He saw the need for soliciting the support of the entire community “as others have done.” Pt. Sharma cited the success stories of the Chinese, Korean, Phillipinos and Italian communities as major accomplishments. “We have to dream and focus on issues like unity, visibility and impact,” he urged.
Amar Erry, the “Dean of Hindus in Canada,” pointed to the existence of inherent problems within the Hindu community, the most notable being the incongruities in forms of worship evidenced in the variety of names e.g. Ram, Devi, Vishnu etc. “We have to come out openly and unreservedly, establishing that we are Hindus first and foremost,” he urged.
Since the Federation was established in 1998, it presented a number of parades in downtown Toronto to commemorate Diwali. It’s 1999 Diwali celebration was held in the Air Canada Centre. And last year, it supported a major Hindu Youth Conference at the University of Toronto.



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