Thousands drawn to temple's dazzle
Jul 23, 2007 04:30 AM
Italian marble. Indian sandstone. Turkish limestone. Burmese teak.
The new BAPS Shri Swaminarayan temple was declared not just a place of Hindu worship for Indo-Canadians, but a symbol of their new home in Canada.
"It seems to me Toronto is the perfect place for this mandir (temple)," Premier Dalton McGuinty said before thousands of Indo-Canadians waving Indian and Canadian flags yesterday during the opening ceremony of their new temple near Highway 27 and Finch Ave.
The Highway 27 and Finch Avenue area is an ugly location for such an impressive building. It is noisy, near the airport, bereft of any natural beauty, and is home to mostly small industrial businesses and hotels. It is an urban wasteland.
"This is a place where people from all over the world come together to create something beautiful – a strong and diverse society."
This, of course, is to be expected from politician’s angling for ethnic block votes. There is the obligatory, and Orwellian, "strong and diverse" rhetoric that dominates immigration and multicultural discourse in this country but in actuality it is mostly "diversity for diversity" sake. He is right to say that people from "all over the world" come to Canada but Indians, and Chinese for that matter, figure prominently in the faces of immigrants to this nation. In other words immigrants from just two countries, India and China, make up a high percentage of Canada's immigrants. If we take all of South Asia as a whole (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) and combine it with Asia and South-East Asia (China, Viet Nam, Korea, etc.) that intake percentage goes through the roof. One region of the world counts for more than half (I've heard 90% but I can't verify that) of Canada's immigrants. That is why Chinese and South Asian faces are increasingly making up a greater percentage of the Canadian population than any other ethnic group. Chinese is the second largest ethnic group in Canada but they are expected to be surpassed by South Asians in 2017 as both seek to rival and best Canada's dominate European ancestry in the game of "ethnic catch up." Because of this our immigrant intake is not that diverse and talk of diversity is actually more lip service than truth. Canada’s immigration policy is more concerned about numbers (the more the better) than it is about diversity.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said India was a model for Canada as a democratic country that brings together varied languages and cultures. "Today we're celebrating one of our country's greatest strengths – our commitment to pluralism."
India is not a role model for Canada. It is one of the most violent and corrupt nations on the planet that intentionally excludes a quarter of its population from economic and political activity. These excluded people are called Dalits and are they suffer human rights abuses on a daily basis via the hands of their upper-Caste Hindu betters. Dalits are a product of Hindu theology that teaches the natural inequality of man. This is why Hinduism is un-Canadian and this is why it is ridiculous for Stephen Harper to say what he did and this is why we shouldn't be celebrating Hinduism's presence in Canada. The Hindus that are in Canada are of the wealthier and mobile upper Caste variety. They also vote. Dalits are not in Canada because they are too poor and too uneducated to leave the shackles of upper Caste dominated Indian society. If they are in Canada then they would not be allowed to enter the $40 million dollar temple by accident of birth. Is this tolerable? Is this Canadian?
"It's a way to not just maintain our culture, but give to Canada," said Meera Sharma, an Indian-born journalist who hosts a local Punjabi radio show.
The holy building is the first example of grandiose Indian architecture in Canada, said Mitesh Badiwala, a cardiac surgery resident who was among the hundreds of volunteers yesterday. "Growing up in Canada, there wasn't a place I could come to to explain my Indian roots and share with the people who were close to me," he said. "Now, I don't need to use words. I just have to bring them here."
Read it all here.
The erections of such buildings are so that immigrants to this country can retain their cultural lifestyles back home and pass it on to their children, as these last two paragraphs imply. As one Indian woman put it to here visiting parents on the CTV coverage of this temple, it's to show that, and I'm paraphrasing, "there is no difference between India and Canada." This temple helps to achieve the goal of making parts of Canadian society reflective of Indian society so that the only way you could tell you are in Canada is by the weather and better social services. It discourages assimilation and total integration into Canadian society by maintaining "the other" status (South Asians remain "the other" as Canadians remain "the other" to them). This temple serves as a magnet and beacon to other Indian immigrants to encourage them to come here and swell the ranks of NRI's (non resident Indians, how the Indian government refers to ex-pat Indians) in Canada.
The problem with this is that this is Canada and it's the only one we got. When immigrants to this country come here and transform segments of Canadian society into mirror reflections of their respective homelands Canadians lose that piece of their public space and society. It becomes, in character, a colony of the nation of a particular immigrant group (Chinatown, little Italy, little India, etc.) If this pattern were to spread across the nation as a whole, and it is possible as it is encouraged by multiculturalism, then Canada will only exist in name only. To illustrate this point further imagine if all of Canada’s immigrants came from India and this continued indefinitely with current birth rates and demographic trends. The once European Christian heritage and identity of Canada will be replaced by a South Asian Hindu one. This is population replacement not population growth.
Canada is a unique nation and it is worth preserving. We should be encouraging immigrants to assimilate. If this is a problem then Canada should favour immigrants who will be more successful at assimilating culturally. If not then Canada will become a colony one temple at a time.