Mahwah – A new museum saluting the experiences of Indian-Americans has opened at the Hindu Samaj Temple of Mahwah.
The temple celebrated a the grand opening of the 13,800-square-foot cultural center on June 5.
Built eight years ago beneath the temple, the space once served as a multipurpose room for church activities, but now will be used to document stories of Indian immigrants, highlighting their achievements and struggles assimilating in different fields, said Kalidas Kale, a temple spokesperson.
“This is our home,” he said of the U.S., “but we still want to maintain our heritage.”
Hanging over the entrance is an image of the Indian flag with a human fingerprint superimposed over it, signifying a sense of Indian identity. The room has a stage flanked by bronze Indian statues, with a state-of-the-art sound system with new lighting, for musical programs.
The area also serves as a center for senior citizens and has classrooms for children’s language, arts and Crafts and enrichment classes and a facility for yoga, dance and music practice and recitals.
Decorating the center’s walls are collages of the four Indian-American honorees who spoke at the center’s grand opening: Vipp Jaswal, head of International Affairs at Fox News; Rashmee Sharma, founder of Roshni Media; Raju Sethi, founder, CEO and president of AVS; and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, a physician and CEO of Parikh Worldwide Media. All four were chosen for their contributions in news media.
A space dedicated to preserving the experience of Indian diaspora across the U.S. has been discussed by members of he temple for some time, picking up speed in recent years to keep pace with the successes of Indian-Americans in society, Kale said. The Indian-American community is one of the most highly-educated groups in the country — 71 percent of the country’s 3.1 million residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to 2010 census numbers.
“In all aspects we are trying to do our best and contribute to society,” Kale said.
Founded in 1996, Hindu Samaj has a membership of approximately 2,500 families. It provides religious, cultural and social services in New Jersey and the surrounding areas.