July 31, 2006 Matthew

Into a Western Hindu Temple

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to enter a Hindu temple and eat indian food. No, it was not a dirty place infested with mice, ants, rotting food offerings, or odorous incense. It was here in my own neighborhood of Portland.

I got to drive a charter trip for a camp of hundreds of junior-high aged Hindus of Indian decent. Many from all over the west coast. On the last day of the camp, we picked them up from what was actually a Christian camp facility. Praise the Lord, that every time they went to the bathroom, they could read verses from the Word of God in framed pictures lining the walls. Before the kids were to depart for home, we were to take them to a Hindu temple in the Portland area. I had not known of any before then. The girls looked to be treated as lower-class (or caste) and were separated from the boys and put on their own buses. However, my bus had the left-overs when all the other buses were full. So the girls sat in the back and the boys sat in the front. During the ride, a small fight broke out amongst a couple boys, that was quickly over before I knew what happened. When I asked about it, all was quiet. I noticed that the girls in the back, among whom were a couple of “counselors,” said absolutely nothing about the fighting. Even the older female counselors just stared on. Intriguing.
At the temple, I observed a very nice and classy compound, richly decorated, vacuumed, hygenic, and high profile. From what I could deduce, it seemed it was of upper-caste Hindus as I heard some kids mocking each other in jealousy on the bus for being Brahmans, not to mention, they were wealthy. I was invited inside to eat, and took the opportunity, after removing my shoes, to prayer walk it (little did they know), as well as try out the spicy vegetarian indian food and mango drinks. Sitting in the parking lot, it almost seemed as if I was back in Hindu country. Inside, it was the cleanest temple I’d ever seen. No incense, no rats, no food on the floors. I have never really associated Hinduism with clean places of worship because most of what you find in Hindu villages and nations are pretty filthy so I was a bit curious. There were the idols, lavishly decorated, charity chests, and pictures of former Brahmans. I read on the front of the building “Shri Swaminarayano Vijayate”…perhaps a diety…

It was a new experience for me to see Hindus continuing in their way who were not ignorant to the Gospel, but choosing to disobey it. For the young ones, their ignorance was mostly the youthful kind–one kids’ highlight of the camp was the challenge course.

I prayed fervently in my spirit for them, for I knew they were all at just the right age to start exploring their own identities…and to be bombarded with deception from the enemy about it.