Hindu Temple In Texas Vandalized With Graffiti

NEW YORK (IANS) — In the latest attack on Hindu houses of worship in the U.S., a temple has been vandalized in Texas, “horrifying” both Hindus and non-Hindus who have offered to help the temple clean up the damage, media reported.

In the attack at the North Texas Hindu Mandir in the Lake Highlands suburb of Dallas, vandals painted symbols of devil worship on the temple’s door, media reports said April 18.

The attackers left behind on a shed at the temple the mark of Mara Salvatrucha, an international gang originating among immigrants from the predominantly Catholic nation of El Salvador and active in the U.S.

The 11CBS network in the Dallas-Fort Worth area reported that a temple board member, Krishna Singh, said mandir members discovered the graffiti April 13. “That was a big shock, really,” the network quoted her as saying. “It makes me sad inside,” nine-year-old Gracie Reed told 11CBS.

“To me, it’s really horrifying because I don’t know who would do this to a church,” the child said referring to the house of worship. Dallas police have sent detectives from their gang unit to investigate the incident, according to WFAA, an ABC network affiliated local station. While the administration of President Barack Obama, who has criticized India over religious tolerance, and Christian leaders had not reacted as of April 19 to the Texas vandalism, non-Hindu neighbors have offered to help the temple.

Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation praised the residents of Lake Highlands as they joined members of the North Texas Hindu Mandir April 18 to clean the graffiti by painting over the hateful messages. “Mandir members and the board are saddened by this event, but at the same time feel it has brought us closer to our neighbors and Old Lake Highlands residents,” said Shiva Maharaj, the temple’s president.

“The Mandir has always had a great relationship with our neighbors, but after this event, their outpouring of concern has sincerely touched us. We thank them for helping us with our ‘Clean Up Day – Painting over the Pain, while Rolling on New Memories,’” he added. This is the first time the temple has been attacked since it was founded in 2002. Temple officials said they would soon add surveillance cameras and construct a fence to ensure its safety.

“An attack on any house of worship is an affront to all people of faith,” said Dr. Rajiv Pandit, HAF executive council member in Dallas. “And while this latest crime adds to a growing trend of intolerance towards the Hindu and other minority communities, the support shown by the temple’s neighbors represents one of the greatest qualities of everyday Americans.”
The gesture of help from neighbors was welcomed by Hindus.

The temple supports community charities like food banks for the poor and an organization that helps victims of child abuse. According to 11CBS, “666” and an upside-down cross were painted on the temple door. They symbolize devil worship. Some Christian leaders, including a former candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Pat Robertson, have called Hinduism “demonic.”

The attack is the latest in a series of attacks on Hindu places of worship. Two temples were vandalized in Washington state in February. In August, a statue of Shiva at the Vishwa Bhavan Hindu Mandir in Monroe, Georgia, was desecrated with black paint. The local sheriff’s office arrested two people in connection with the attack. Between July and October in Loudon County in Virginia, police have documented 17 separate incidents of anti-Hindu vandalism, the Hindu American Foundation said.

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