Swaminarayan Temple, Houston | Why I will NEVER go again

Something happened this morning that made me rewind myself to the Diwali Mela I attended in 2014 at The Swami Narayan Temple, Houston.

Why not kick off the blog’s travel edition with some hard core rant on “feminism”.

Zwain..Zwain..Zwain…time travelling back to the Diwali Mela.

SWAMINARAYAN TEMPLE, HOUSTON TX

A huge crowd – thousands of Indians (a few of their foreign friends too) had gathered at the Swaminarayan temple premises to celebrate Diwali in unison – dressed up in their best ethnic ensembles. The sprawling lawns of the temple was filled with make-shift tents that offered Indian delicacies, chai and kulfi.

A theatre act was being enacted on Ramayana and fireworks aerial display was done. We then moved to the food stalls since the temple was very crowded with devotees.

Its a huge temple and has a humongous premises outside the city. Lovely architecture and lighting on account of Diwali!

Here are some pics of the temple through my lens –

 

 

 

 

 

 

You must be wondering why I am talking about all this after so long! Okay coming back to why I had put such a strong title to this post –

After we had our share of snacks and chai, we entered the temple area where I saw a board in Hindi which translates to –

“A request to sisters & daughters…Keep your body modestly covered with appropriate clothes. Mothers are requested to cover their pampered daughters in appropriate clothing or else leave them back home.”

The tone in Hindi written on the board was very arrogant and that ticked off the feminist in me.

I started moving towards the temple with “Why do they always have words of wisdom for women? And none for the men?”

We took the flight of stairs leading to the temple and would have barely walked a few steps inside, I and another lady from the client group was asked to stop right there though my male colleagues and clients were allowed to enter the premises.

There was this lobby like area divided into two with men and women seated separately. The men can go near the sanctum sanctorum while the women cannot. They end up landing only in the lobby – a good 15-20 feet away from the sanctum!

I have never been to any Swami Narayan temple before and was intrigued by being stopped like this abruptly. “Women are not allowed after this point – that is how the temple works” came the prompt reply.

I literally burst out with anger and staged a walk out.

You worship women as goddesses! You take blessings from the elderly and the girl child during Navratra considering them a form of the Goddess Durga herself!

And yet you discriminate them? In whatever possible way?

Heights! The staunch feminist in me refuses to put this down simply as just another incident.

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