Members of the Athlone Hindu community pictured with cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council Cllr Frankie Keena, Cllr Aengus O'Rourke, deputy mayor of Athlone/Moate Municipal District and wellwishers.

First Hindu Temple outside Dublin opened in Athlone

The first Hindu Temple outside Dublin was officially opened in Athlone on Thursday.

It is the first Murugan Temple in Ireland and had its Maha Kumbabishekam (First day Prayer) on June 9.

More than one hundred people joined the local Hindu community as it celebrated the opening day at the premises in Monksland. Amongst those in attendance was Deputy Mayor of Athlone, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, Cllr. Frankie Keena and Cllr Emer Kelly as well as people from multiple nationalities who arrived from across Ireland.

The establishment of a midlands temple to facilitate members of the Hindu community outside of Dublin became very necessary as the Hindu community is a growing community in Ireland with 13,729 members recorded by the CSO in 2016 and today, as the results of the recent census are awaited, it is estimated that the number of practitioners of the Hindu religion in Ireland is approximately in excess of 17,000 people.

The Temple was established in 2019 but like so many other official openings and events over the last two years the opening celebrations were delayed because of the Covid pandemic but now it is opening its doors to the Hindu community and indeed the wider community.

The Ireland Murugan Temple will be a centre for all religious and cultural activities and events to promote the teachings, scriptures and philosophies of Hinduism and the Hindu religion. The central midlands location of the Temple will ensure a more accessible and local centre for worship, social service, education and teaching for the Hindu community in the midlands and beyond.

While the primary function of the Temple is the offering of weekly Hindu prayer services, Pooja, and spiritual support a key function of the Temple will also be to act as a centre of interreligious connection and understanding.

A spokesperson said: "It is important that in an increasingly multi-faith and pluralist Ireland that our Temple will have a role in promoting mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and harmony with other churches, faiths and community groups.

"Our doors will always open in welcome to visitors from other church groups and faiths. The Ireland Murugan Temple will also have a role as a community centre promoting the arts, conducting social, literary, and cultural events like Yoga and Meditation. All are welcome to partake in such events as we seek to establish our Temple as a viable and integrated part of the greater community. It is our intention to ensure the Temple has a visible and active presence in the community through involvement in other non-Hindu cultural events like the St Patrick’s Day Parade and other such festivities. The temple will serve the religious, spiritual, educational and community needs of Ireland’s growing Hindu community.

"The Temple was established primarily to serve Lord Murugan and His devotees but it will also be a refuge for spiritual and emotional comfort to all those who might come to the temple in search of it. Our basic principle is to open our Temple and to make it a place of welcome and refuge to all who wish to come and pray, regardless of wealth or status, social background or creed," the spokesperson said.

The hours of worship every Saturday evening will be from 5pm to 7pm.

Ireland Murugan Temple is a non-profit organisation with charitable status