Norco city officials rejected proposed Hindu temple because it doesn’t fit the town’s “western aesthetic.”

A proposal by Indian-Americans in the South-Californian city of Norco to build a Hindu temple has been rejected by city officials. The small community has not taken this rejection well and claims that this decision by the authorities is reflective of its discriminatory and intolerant attitudes towards Indians. The authorities have said that they will stand by their decision no matter what the community says as the theme of the town of Norco is ‘western' and as such, a Hindu temple will not blend in well with the surroundings.

The Indian-American community in Southern California is on a steady increaseq as per a recent census. Norco already has a Sikh temple. However, a request by the local Hindu community to build a temple has met with a firm “No.”

Norco is a town specially built around a rustic, 'western' theme. Inhabitants travel on horseback and people keep chickens and livestock on their property, trying to live a rural-like life that is closer to nature. Newcomers are directed to build houses, shops and other establishments with rustic elements incorporated into the structures. The town authorities are very protective about the theme of the city.

No wonder the proposed Hindu temple was rejected. The city council feels that a structure that has domes and is built with Eastern designs doesn’t go well with the town’s planning. The location at which the temple has been proposed to stand is one where there can possibly be problems of drainage in the future due to the nature of the property’s soil.

However, the Hindu community feels that these reasons are baseless and that their proposal was rejected simply because they are Indian. People pushing for this plan to be implemented say that the reasons the authorities have given, such as “too big” or “does not match the western theme” are too vague. The community also questions why the city does not define the requirements in more concrete terms rather than use vague expressions.

The 25,000 square foot Swaminarayan Gurukul would also host Indian language classes for Hindu children as well as yoga classes for everyone. The owner of the property on which the temple was supposed to have been built, Manu Patolia expressed his disappointment at the council's decision by going around Norco, taking pictures and showing those photos to the council members demanding to know which western style should they be following.

Patolia observes that while Christians have churches to go to and Muslims have mosques, they too should be allowed to have their own place of worship.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter