COLUMBIA — As one of the Saturday morning worships come to a close, some of the Shanthi Mandir Temple members get up from meditation, put on their shoes — which are not allowed inside — and prepare to leave.
Vellore Gopalaratnam is the former president of the Hindu temple that is tucked away on Holly Avenue. He said the temple’s big goal is making a difference.
“Service to the community is a big focus,” Vellore said.
Adorned on the walls are calendars filled with upcoming service events and colorful decorations.
Gopalaratnam’s wife, Anantha, explained that Hinduism does not have a rigid schedule.
“The fact that we have a place to congregate and share our cultures with our kids is what is important,” Anantha Gopalaratnam said.
Shanthi Mandir hosts several community events, such as Hindi language classes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.
One of the coordinators for the temple, Inder Khurana, said Shanthi Mandir is open to anyone in the community looking to learn more about Hinduism.
Many in the community are able to simply come to the temple and engage in their personal worship, said Anantha Gopalaratnam, who has been involved with the Shanthi Mandir since 1985.
The temple started because many Hindus in the surrounding areas wanted a concrete place to gather. Before the temple’s construction, they met in each others' houses, Gopalaratnam said.
The Gopalaratnams emphasized how welcoming the temple is to all age groups and people in and around Columbia.
Shanthi Mandir has a full list of its events listed on its website.