Mission

The mission of the Association of Hindu Society of Utica NY is to teach the rich spiritual heritage of Hindu philosophy and religion to devotees of all ages and nationalities. The association intends to provide the leadership and resources for the Hindu community, including:

  • Provide services to devotees and children, promoting the awareness of principles and practices of Hinduism.
  • Invite Hindu teachers and scholars to present topics on Hinduism, enhancing the understanding of it.
  • Celebrate festivals such as Holi, Mahashivarati, Rama Navami, Dassera and Diwali, and other events.
  • Bring all topics, issues and events under one roof to establish a strong Hindu community.
  • Seek active participation, guidance and support from local people in our journey to be a cultural hub in our community.

We strive to provide leadership and promote awareness of the Hindu community. Educating the youth on the principles and practices of Hinduism is one of our goals as we aim to be a diverse and peaceful group in the Utica area. Our goal is establish an active Hindu Society so the Utica area can add another cultural and religious congregation to its already diverse list.

VISION

We hope to create a Hindu association that celebrates our religion while educating others and promoting awareness. The Association of Hindu Society of Utica NY looks forward to building bridges with anyone from the local community and beyond.

As our community continues to grow, it is becoming evident we need a facility to accommodate our activities and religious rituals. As we become more familiar in our new home and environment, we miss the sanctity and richness of our own temple or place of worship.

Currently we are practicing in our homes and would like to find a space to create our own temple in Utica. Association leaders would like to rent a house or apartment to start a Hindu temple. Once we have enough funding, our future goal is to build a Shiva Panchyan temple paying homage to Shiva and four other Gods.

Our visions include celebrating religious festivals throughout the year and regular worship ceremonies among a congregation. Along with practicing Hinduism, we hope that Hindu priests and scholars from all over will perform rituals or present lectures on Hindu topics to increase awareness on our culture and who we are. Anyone interested in celebrating religious rituals and or participating in society events is encouraged to attend.

To achieve our vision, we need support from the community. We request a membership fee $20 per family. Those who wish to donate more are encouraged to do so.

HISTORY

The Bhutanese-Nepali refugees living in Utica were forced out of their homeland because of their Hindu beliefs and Nepali culture. Now as they start over in a new country trying to adjust to foreign customs, they have the freedom to practice their religion. To do so they will need to build something from scratch. Keeping their faith and persevering is the essence of who they are as this is a group has dealt with hardships and persecution for several decades.

In the early 1990s, after several years of repressive policies and human rights violations against Bhutanese citizens of Nepali origin, the Bhutanese government expelled approximately 100,000 Bhutanese-Nepali people. One-sixth of its population was gone, creating a new wave of refugees without a country to call home.

Bhutan, hailed as “the last Shangri-La,” is a kingdom in South Asia that is bordered by Tibetan China, India and Nepal. It is predominantly a Buddhist state with cultural traditions similar to Tibet.

As the culturally ethnic Nepali population steadily grew in Southern Bhutan, the Bhutanese government feared that its Buddhist culture was being overtaken by Hindu traditions and cultural practices of the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese. Also, the Bhutanese elite became fearful when a growing number of the Nepalese received high-level government positions and began organizing demonstrations that called for democracy in Bhutan. The Bhutanese monarchy has always maintained that most of those expelled from Bhutan were illegal immigrants.

These Bhutanese-Nepalese were forced to renounce their homes and homeland and fled Bhutan due to violence. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 107,000 Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in Nepal were documented in 2008. Since then a resettlement process has moved several thousands of these refugees to Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees has helped resettle over 300 Bhutanese-Nepali refugees in Utica. They are working and attending schools and colleges in their new community and know it may be a long road before all of their hopes are fulfilled. Transitioning from a third-world country to a first-world one was not easy, yet they are optimistic about building a meaningful life in the Mohawk Valley.