Fire Ceremony in Hanover: A New Hindu Temple for Germany

Mosques in Germany tend to get the headlines, but the country is becoming more religiously diverse in other ways too. A Tamil group in Hanover has built a new Hindu temple, which was purified by a fire ceremony on Sunday.

The largest Hindu temple in northern Germany opened in Hanover on Sunday with a fire ceremony that began before sunrise. A Hindu high priest from Canada performed the ritual blessings, and a calf loaned by a local farmer served as a holy presence.

"This Hindu temple will enrich Hanover's religious diversity," said Hanover's mayor, Ingrid Lange, on Sunday.

The Sri Muthumariamman Temple will serve the 300-member Tamil Hindu Cultural Association, founded in Hanover in 1994.

The Hanover temple has room for about 100 people. Its cost -- about €300,000 -- was financed through donations in addition to a loan taken by the association.

All told, about 5,000 Hindus live in Lower Saxony, where Hanover is located. An escalation of the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka during the 1980s led to a surge in Tamil asylum-seekers across Europe. A large Hindu temple in Hamm, in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, opened in 2002, with space for about 300 worshippers.

Around 1,000 Hindus from around Germany showed up for the blessings on Sunday evening. Hindus believe that ritual purification of a new temple can bring as much luck as many years of prayer.


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