Temples should serve as community centres for Malaysian Indians
Hindu temples in Malaysia have to wake up and realise that their survival in the long run dependents on their contribution to the Hindu community. Malaysian Indians are educated and mix with people of various races and religions. Their thinking will be very scientific, logical, influenced by other cultures and may even question as to why should one go to temple.
Temples must rise up to the new challenges and become relevant to the current needs and thinking of Malaysians. One way of making themselves relevant to the Hindu community is to act as community centres cum places of worship.
Temples are public institutions that have the financial support from the affluent members of the Indian community. Therefore Hindu temples are well positioned financially to dissemination knowledge to its worshippers about our heritage and spiritual wealth to temple followers.
Currently many temples do not focus on dissemination of knowledge but are involve only in worship of deity and rituals. We are living in a multi racial country with many religions. Hindus must be knowledgeable about their cultural heritage and must have the attitude and soft skills to manage the challenges that arise, being a minority community.
The Hindu communities in Malaysia are marginalized in all aspects be it social, political, economical and cultural. Many in the urban fringes and estates are facing hopelessness and a bleak future.
Other religious institutions are actively involved in economic uplifting of these poor Hindu folks. Temples have to rise up to the crying calls of suffering and needy people of all religions.
They can add additional services such as welfare service, skill development for single mothers, motivation to Hindu children nearby, counselling centres etc. It all dependents on the resources and expertise they have.
Tamil schools and the temple institutions are the twin-engine vehicles that link our past rich cultural, religious and spiritual heritage. One without the other will paralyze, sidetrack and dodge the Malaysian Hindu community from its past heritage.
The Hindu way of living places a lot of importance and emphasis on acquiring knowledge. This makes it all the more reason for temple institutions to wholeheartedly adopt Tamil Schools.
But unfortunately Malaysian Hindus have turned a blind eye towards the plights of Tamil schools but donate generously in building, restoring and renovating temples. It is time for our community as a whole to take ownership of this problem and redress the situation. One much needed and desired contribution of temples, are the adoption of depleted and under equipped Tamil schools throughout the country.
Tamil schools remain deprived of facilities and the much needed infra structure development. Even those Tamil schools, which are bustling with students, are also left to fend for themselves for additional classrooms, facilities and amenities.
When 50% of Hindu children who are in Tamil schools are helpless and seeking help, one wonders how the temple institutions can remain indifferent and unconcerned towards their plight.
If temples are to be supported continuously, they have to serve the community and envisage a role to make them relevant and revered. Temples coming to the rescue of Tamil schools at the crucial time will enhance their significance and worth in the Hindu minds.
Temples should not be mere buildings but a nerve centre that plays a pivotal role among the Hindus and other communities as this will create a lot of goodwill among other communities and benefit future Hindus in this country.
It is a golden opportunity for temples to be integrated with the community in particular the Tamil schools. This is the time for the temples to capitalize on the urgent need for its service and call for dialogues with educationists, NGOs, Tamil school headmasters and teachers and PIBG members to ascertain the kind of assistance and support that is needed.
The Hindu child needs hope self-esteem, self-confidence and dignity to face the various challenges in their everyday life.
I call and appeal upon all temple committees to transform temples into service and knowledge centres to uplift the Indian community.