By Diane Mwai
The dollar theater on Lorna Ridge in Hoover has plans to become a new place of worship for the Birmingham Hindu community.
On Sept. 14, the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission approved a request for the vacant AMC Classic Theater to be used as a place of worship. The request was made by Mr. Pritesh Patel on behalf of BAPS Birmingham, LLC; a Hindu community within Birmingham, AL.
The community’s existing house of worship, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan temple, led by the spiritual leader Pramukh Maharaj, has been closed due to COVID-19.
The BAPS organization is described as a “spiritual, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to improving society through individual growth by fostering the Hindu ideals of faith, unity, and selfless service, according their site.
The existing temple space maintaines the physical principles of Hinduism, giving those part of the Hindui faith a place to call home. Lessons on the arts, music and philosophy are provided, which are also important to the Hindu heritage.
The organization provides many activities to devote resources towards education. One of their primary focuses is the BAPS Women’s Wing which helps to supply women with occupational training.
It was not until after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that the population of those that practice Hindu began to grow in the state of Alabama, according to Mary Harper of Magic City Religion. Restrictions that were based on national origin were lifted which allowed for an easier flow of immigrants.
Even though Hindu’s make up less than 1% of the population in Alabama, according to Alabama Political Reporter, the community seems to be mostly growing in the Birmingham area. A new sanctuary would allow the growing Hindu Community more space to worship within Birmingham.