The fate of the building that houses Hindu Mandir temple, 1835 Polk St. NE is uncertain at this point, but its owners—the board members of the Hindu Society of Minnesota–will likely make a decision at their Feb. 26 meeting.
Byron Byraiah, temple member and also the project manager who is overseeing construction of the temple’s new location, a 42,000 square foot building in Maple Grove, said he could not state anything “for the record” about the fate of the Northeast building until after the board meeting. He said, however, that they have discussed its history; it was built in 1891 by Swedish immigrants (“They built it with their own hands,”) and was later owned by a Japanese religious group. The Hindu Society bought the building in 1978.
If the building does go on the market, he said, “We would like to leave the legacy of the building to the new owners, that it be used by a religious organization or as a cultural center.”
Northeaster reporter Amy Clements visited the temple in its early days, in 1985; at the time, she wrote, it was the only Hindu temple in the Twin Cities. Temple members follow Hinduism, an ancient religion of India. The day she visited, they were discussing two holy books, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita. The temple is not only a place to worship but also a community center, a place for Hindu people to meet and celebrate their heritage. Members came from Afghanistan, Africa and India.
The temple’s history began in 1977, when a few Hindu families formed the Hindu Society of Minnesota and began to meet in each others’ homes. Their goal was to propagate the Hindu religion and culture. When the group bought the church building on Polk Street, they began to offer religious and cultural programs for children and adults, such as classical Indian dance classes, Indian dance and music performances, cultural skits, Hindi poetry readings and presentations by Indian scholars.
Windom Park Citizens in Action co-chair Doran Clark said he hasn’t heard any rumors about the fate of the temple on Polk Street, although he added that he has seen members still actively using the building. Byraiah said the Maple Grove project might be completed in June.