A temple, at least in India, meant a place where a person could go, sat in a corner and meditated. It was quiet and gave one the required space to unburden oneself of all the stress! People went there to meditate on ॐ नमह शिवाय, हरी ॐ and other such outlets. This gave one peace and energy to face life. Aah, the calmness was addictive!!

Children are running around unmonitored, screaming and playing while parents socialize and talk about what ever is going on in their lives! No, this is not the park nor the playground but the temples in the USA. I’m not sure when temples became socializing centers and playgrounds but that’s what we face currently. When parents bring their children to the temple, I guess their thinking is this is better than letting kids in a park with unknown people. What we don’t realize is people come to the temples to unburden themselves. None of us has an easy life. We need divine intervention, in whatever form, at some point or another. While we could ask for this divine intervention at home, the temple is where we come to. After all, there are the beautiful idols, the priests and the atmosphere! When we do come to the temple, we have to maneuver our way, through running, screaming and crying children and chasing parents, to that ever elusive spot.

Chris and Jaime are getting married at the local church. They have invited friends and family. Ramesh and Jaya have been invited. This couple has 2 children. Ramesh looks dashing in his suit while Jaya looks gorgeous in her one piece dress. No she didn’t wear a saree, and understandably so. After all, they needed to blend in with the other attendees. At the church, the parents along with the kids sat through the ceremony. The kids didn’t feel an urge to run around, cause mayhem and pretty much ruin other people’s need for quiet. They were as quiet as the proverbial church mouse. What a beautiful family!!

How does a family this well behaved turn into a disruptive family at the temple? Is it something about the temple that says “Your kids can scream and run around here”. Is it the environment that basically allows one to leave their kids unchecked? What gives us the right to play this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde show? The fact that our kids run around says more about our parenting skills than about our kids. It’s very obvious we don’t care about what people say at the temple, we are more interested in what people say the church! This rather abysmal parenting is what has led to temples now getting strict about children unaccompanied by parents at any point. Security walks around taking children to an area where they can keep any eye on them. Before you talk about this being unsafe, do realize that these kids were unaccompanied by their parents to begin with! Their parents are busy socializing, so security has to take matters in their hands. If this is intrusiveness, think about another word: Undisciplined. Children do what parents allow them to do.

A temple is as sacred as the church, a mosque or any other place of worship. The fact that we, as a community, feel differently about these places of worship speaks more about our mindset than it does about these places of worship. Indians are the one community that wears suits to churches and shorts to a temple!  Why do we have this kind of duplicity? The temple is definitely a place to unwind and unburden our minds of all the stress; that being said, the temple is still a place of worship, not the playground or a park!! What gives us the right to disrupt the sanctity of the temple with our undisciplined children and our quirky clothes??

Indian people have conquered much and yet, we show the neanderthal mentality when it comes to protecting our culture, our temples and their sanctity. It is because of such people that I say, उत्तिष्ठ भारतीय गण। जय माँ भारती

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Jagannath Sharma
Jagannath Sharma
4 years ago

A very useful comment Kumar. But what you write has surprised me. I have been to Temples in New Jersey, and a few other places in the U.S. and have not come across such behavior. But clearly you have written with knowledge and experience of disgusting behavior of some of our countrymen in a temple here. In India, from what I have experienced in Temples in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, the solemnity required, and the sanctity of the place is maintained. I hope your experience is an isolated one. I liked your comment of Indians “going to church in suits… Read more »