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Hinduism in Belgium

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Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Antwerp
Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Antwerp

Hinduism is a minority religion in Belgium. According to the PEW 2014, Hinduism is also the fastest growing religion in Belgium.[1].[2][3]Attempts have been done by the Hindu Forum of Belgium (HFB) to make Hinduism an officially-recognized religion in Belgium.[4]

Indian community in Belgium

There are about 7,000 people of Indian origin in Belgium.

A section of immigrants from Palanpur district in Gujarat entered the port city of Antwerp to work with the Jewish community in the diamond business, and eventually started their own.[5] The Antwerp Indians still form a very tightly knit group and actively celebrate Indian festivals.

Indian software companies like Aricent, HCL, TCS, Daffodil Software Ltd and Infosys have a presence in Belgium.

Some farm labourers and shop-hands, mainly immigrants from North India, have also entered Belgium illegally.[6]

Nepalese Hindu community in Belgium

It is estimated that around 6000 Hindu of Nepalese origin live in Belgium. Leuven, Antwerpen, Brussels and Brugge are the major cities where Nepali Hindus live. They organize cultural and religious activities on special occasions each year. The main rituals like Nwaran, Pasni, birthday, Bratabandha, marriage, and Griha prabhesh are performed at their homes. They also organize Devi Puja and Shiva Puja on Navarati and Shivaratri.

The Nepali community has not built a temple yet but they intend to establish it to preserve Hindu culture and tradition. Shreemad Bhagabat Mahayagya was organized to meet this target but it is still in process. Ram Hari Shasti has contributed his time and effort as a Hindu priest for the Nepalese and Hindu community in Belgium.

Hindu organizations

Hindu Forum of Belgium

The Hindu Forum of Belgium (HFB or FHB)[7] was created by Hindu organisations in Belgium. It was launched on 16 March 2007 in Brussels.

Sanatan Dharma Sewa Parisad

This is the oldest Hindu cultural association in Belgium. Different Puja and praying are organized on special occasions like Shivaratri and Shravan month. In recent years, it has been celebrating Shree Krishnastami festival with ISKCON in Durby.

Jayatu Sanskritam

The Jayatu Sanskritam association works to promote Hindu traditional culture in Belgium. It was the main organizer of Shremad Bhagabat Mahapuran held in Leuven in 2011. It was a huge Mahayaga organized for the first time in Belgium and around 5000 devotees actively participated. Other associations like Sai Pariwar Belgium and Sanatan Dharma Sewa Parisad were actively present there.

Satya Sai Pariwar

Satya Sai Bhajan Mandali is a Hindu association of Nepalese people in Belgium. They organize Sai Bhajan every Sunday in Leuven, Antwerpen and Oostende. They have also collaborated with Satya Sai Kendra of Brussels.

ISKCON in Belgium

Bhaktivedanta College,the only Hindu Vaishnava university in Belgium
Bhaktivedanta College,the only Hindu Vaishnava university in Belgium

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is active in Belgium. There are about 1,500 Hare Krishnas in Belgium.[8] An ISKCON temple has been built in Septon-Durbuy and is known as Radhadesh. ISKCON centers have been established in Antwerp and Gent. In other towns, where no such center exists, "local get-together programs" are organized periodically at the homes of private individuals where worship of Krishna is conducted. This is generally organized on festive occasions like Janmashtami and Deepavali.

ISKCON has the following activities in Belgium:

  • Centre-1: ISKCON Center, Antwerpen, Belgium
  • Centre-2: Local Get-together Program, Ghent, Belgium
  • Center-3: ISKCON Radhadesh temple, in the Septon neighbourhood of Durbuy. This is the only proper ISKCON temple in Belgium. It includes:
    • The main temple, a grand structure where daily worship is performed and festivals are celebrated
    • Bhaktivedanta Library Services (BLS), a substantial library and research facility
    • Bhaktivedanta College, a religious denomination educational campus, the only Hindu Vaishnava university in Belgium
    • Radhadesh Govinda, the local edition of ISKCON's Food for Life program

Balinese Hinduism

Kingdom of Ganesha
Kingdom of Ganesha

Two Balinese Temples exist in the Pairi Daiza botanical garden in Belgium.[9][10]

The 4-hectare (9.9-acre) Kingdom of Ganesha, which was opened in 2009, is the largest Indonesian garden in Europe, and reproduces the plant life and feel of the Indonesian archipelago , particularly Bali. Its collections include Pura Agung Shanti Buwana Balinese Hindu temple, East Nusa Tenggara and Toraja traditional houses and miniature replicas of Borobudur and Prambanan temples. In August 2009 the Indonesian government has sent a pair of Sumatran elephants to enliven the Indonesian Park. It is the first endangered animal breeding loan program that Indonesia ever had in Europe.[11]

Community Life

According to the Ipsos survey, about 40% of the participants considers Hindus as real Belgians and about 35% stated that Hindus are not true Belgians.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ https://brilliantmaps.com/fastest-religion/
  2. ^ IRF2006
  3. ^ United States Department of State
  4. ^ https://iskconnews.org/hindu-forum-gains-support-to-make-hinduism-official-religion-in-belgium,6365/
  5. ^ Gujaratis families dominate 60 percent diamond trade in Belgium
  6. ^ "Diaspora - chapter 11" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-26. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
  7. ^ HFB
  8. ^ United States Department of State
  9. ^ https://www.pairidaiza.eu/en/activities/the-big-balinese-temple
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-04-17. Retrieved 2018-04-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ https://nationaltokens.com/coins/brugelette-pairi-daiza-royaume-de-ganesha-the-temples/
  12. ^ https://www.statista.com/statistics/896706/opinions-on-hindus-as-part-of-the-national-community-in-belgium/
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Hinduism in Belgium
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