A Hindu temple in Louisville, Kentucky was recently vandalized, sending shock waves across the close-knit Hindu community. According to media accounts, the incident happened sometime between Sunday and Tuesday morning when vandals broke through a window at Louisville’s Swaminarayan Temple leaving glass shattered on the floor.
The Temple was defaced with black graffiti, including xenophobic and anti-Hindu messages. Black paint was sprayed onto a poster depicting a religious figure, and the temple’s walls were covered with black crosses and phrases such as “Jesus Is The Only Lord” and “Jesus Is All Mighty.” A knife was reportedly plunged into a chair in the temple.
A message spray-painted onto a bulletin board at the temple read had the word “foreign” followed by an expletive, Fox affiliate WDRB reports. Temple spokesperson Raj Patel told the news station that this last message indicates that the vandalism was “not about just a god.” “It’s about a race or someone’s skin color,” he added.
The vandalism was discovered by a repairman on Tuesday morning. No one was in the temple while the vandalism occurred, Patel told the Courier Journal.
Patel said his community, consisting of 60 to 100 Sunday worshippers, is deeply saddened by the incident. The community has been meeting in the building, a former church, for about five years.
“We come here to worship,” Patel said during a press conference at the temple on Wednesday. “We should not have to turn our backs to see who is behind us.”
According to Mohan, the editor of Garamchai.com, “There are over 300 Hindu temples in cities across America. Such incidents of vandalism are really rare and shocking. In most communities, Indian Americans peacefully co-exist with other members of the community and Hindus manage worship and religious gatherings at local temples and places of worship.”