Historic temple ‘not for sale’

The historic temple, situated in Mobeni Heights.

Following a sale of a 102-year-old historic Hindu temple in Mobeni Heights by the trustees, a public mass meeting is being called by concerned Hindus to deliberate on the status of the temple on Saturday, March 3 at the Doorgha Hall (Mobeni Heights Civic Centre) at 2pm.

Former inspector of schools and community leader, Habi B Singh, said the broader Hindu community of Mobeni Heights and all like-minded people will not let the historic Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple (mandhir) be sold at any cost.

Singh said the explanation provided for the disposal of the present temple property is dwindling numbers and a lack of funds is totally ludicrous.

Singh explained, “It appears that the significance of a temple is lost on the trustees, who believe that the ‘few dozens of devotees who regularly visit the temple’ render the temple unsustainable.

Yet last year, when the temple commemorated its 100th anniversary, the temple hall was full to the brim with devotees dressed in traditional garb celebrating in an atmosphere of sheer devotional delight.”

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He further claimed, “The trustees pretend not to know that the temple is a ‘symbolic home, seat and body of God’. It is a space in which man and God come together to symbolise and express the belief system of Hinduism. It is the centre for cultural enrichment- a meeting point for the celebration of customs and tradition through dance, music, drama, rendition of kirtans and bhajans and recitals of spiritual verses. Above all, it is consecrated ground on which are located are moorthis of our divinities donated and enshrined by our families, who also donated funds to both temples.”

Singh added, “However, I have been informed by social media that the decision of the trustees to alienate the temple property by deed of sale to apparently a church group is unconstitutional and illegal. The Luxmi Narayan Temple has been granted the status of a public benefit organisation (PBO: 930011201) and given recognition by the Department of Social Welfare as a non-profit organisation (NPO 012-473).

Under these permits, the trustees of the temple hold a fiduciary duty to the public for the upkeep, maintenance, safety and the integrity of the property including its structures and assets. They may not do or cause any harm to the temple but are duty bound to protect it.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple in Mobeni Heights, Dr Lokesh Maharajh has dismissed claims that the 102-year-old historic temple property is being sold to the Christian fraternity for a church.

Maharajh said, “We are not selling to the Christian fraternity to turn the historic temple into a church but to prospective Hindu organisations, who have come forth to purchase the historic temple.”

In a press release to the media, it said, “The Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple of Mobeni Heights has been engaged in the propagation of Sanathan Dharma since 1916. The temple has been conducting religious services, discourses, lectures and conferences calculated to promote Sanathan Dharma in Mobeni Heights since 1970.

It has also assisted the aged and needy of any race, colour or creed and has donated to deserving causes related to religion, education, charity and philanthropy. It, however, is becoming increasingly challenging to fulfil all these roles from the present location of the Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple in Mobeni Heights. The reason for this, among others, is that the 1000-seater hall is under-utilised by the public. The net income from the hall hire is very low.”

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The press release further stated, “This income does not include the numerous improvements of a capital nature undertaken during the past five years. The hall is becoming a liability, as it does not generate sufficient income. The maintenance costs relating to the hall are very high.

Disposing the property and building will not mean the end of the Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple, but would mean a continuation of its activities from a different location. Another reason why the Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple is considering relocating is that the number of people actively participating in sathsanghs and other temple activities is very small.

There is a distinct possibility that the future generations may abandon the activities if the work is too burdensome. It may therefore be wise to relocate to premises that is better geared to propagation and is not a financial burden to the temple.”

The temple has already identified a vacant land that is suitable for the erection of a temple, with low maintenance costs, to continue in its work.

“We are happy to negotiate with any organisation whose objectives are to promote religious morals and education, conduct religious services and to help the aged and needy irrespective of race, colour or creed. Religious organisations showing an interest in purchasing the property and buildings of the Shri Luxmi Narayan Temple should send an intent of interest to [email protected],” the press release concluded.

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Vivaga Thambiran
News editor

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