Williamsville temple desecrated

Inside the desecrated Williamsville Hindu Temple - Photo by Laurel V Williams
Inside the desecrated Williamsville Hindu Temple - Photo by Laurel V Williams

Distraught devotees of the Williamsville Hindu Temple are pleading with the public to call the police if they have information on the sacrilege report over the weekend.

"This is heart-wrenching for the members. This is total desecration. The executive works tirelessly to keep this compound very clean and tidy to host religious activities," the temple secretary, Vashti Sookhoo, said on Sunday.

"We want people to call the police if they know something. We appreciate any information that could bring justice to this institution and its members."

The culprits smashed the locks on the front gates, ventilation walls at the side of the building, and floor tiles near several murtis as well as removing burglar proofing, causing thousands of dollars' worth of damage.

The smashed lock at Williamsville Hindu Temple - Photo by Laurel V Williams
The smashed lock at Williamsville Hindu Temple - Photo by Laurel V Williams

The desecration is believed to have occurred on Saturday at around 4 pm. However, the discovery was made on Sunday morning.

Sookhoo spoke on behalf of the members. She recalled crying on seeing the destruction and "trying to make sense of what happened."

Together with president Shariffa Dass, her husband, treasurer Ricky Dass and other executive members, they went to the temple on the Guaracara Tabaquite Road in Kumar Village at around 7.30 am.

Looking at the ruins, Sookhoo added: "The ladies come to prepare for satsangs (devotional activities) on a Wednesday, and now they are expressing their concerns about not feeling safe on the compound.

"This temple is almost 100 years old. It was rebuilt in 2000, and community members maintain this temple. It is not a (Sanatan Dharma) Maha Sabha temple. It is a community temple, and people donate their time and funds to maintain this organisation. "

Sookhoo is also the councillor for the electoral district of Reform/Manahambre in the Princes Town Regional Corporation.

"We understand witnesses saw people, including a woman, on the compound yesterday (Saturday). They saw a car at the front entrance, and two men with big hairstyles entered the compound," Sookhoo said.

Residents heard pounding sounds but assumed it was construction workers doing work. They paid little mind because construction work is done from time to time on the compound.

Sookhoo recalled that someone broke in in April and removed the murtis' clothing. A report was not made to the police.

The Williamsville Hindu Temple
The Williamsville Hindu Temple - Photo by Laurel V Williams - LAUREL V WILLIAMS

"We said we would move on and do what we have to do, and everything was going well. We have weekly satsangs. We have five pundits who devote their time every Wednesday to teach us about the religious books and perform events," Sookhoo said.

On Wednesday, Hindus celebrated Krishna Janmashtami, in honour of Lord Krishna's birth, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

She said many community members attended.

Although the members said they do not know who committed the latest act, they have suspicions about who might be behind it.They did not give details.

A plaque at the front of the building dated August 30, 2000, said the temple celebrated its 50th anniversary (1950-2000) with a refurbishment by the then local government minister, the late Dhanraj Singh.

Princes Town police also visited  on Sunday afternoon and gathered evidence. Cpl Gaffar is leading investigations.

Anyone with information can call the Princes Town police at 655-2231, the police at 555 or 999, Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS (8477) or any police station.


"Williamsville temple desecrated"

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