Morrisville, North Carolina — Native Americans are the largest Asian American ethnic group in North Carolina. From India to the Triangle, the culture and traditions of the Hindu faith have found a home in Morrisville.
Gangahard Sharma, 96, and his wife Saroj Sharma, 90, established the Hindu Society of North Carolina in Morrisville in 1976.
Its membership is 3,000 and it is open to everyone, says Soroj Sharma, “And we want to grow and we want to work with everyone. It’s not just Hindu. In this place everyone is welcome , for God is one.”
Manoj Pandya, president of the Hindu Society of North Carolina, came to the United States for a job in IT in 1998. He left San Francisco and Silicon Valley for the Triangle.
Pandya keeps track of all the ways the center serves American Indians.
“Religion is first, spirituality, food, music, education,” he said. “At the heart of this is faith and service to the wider community.”
The organization hosts vaccination clinics and health clinics, blood drives and food drives, serving 100,000 meals since the pandemic. Hot vegetarian meals are delivered to local homeless shelters, churches and schools.
Second year Duke Gargi Mahadeshwar often helps her father who organized the food drive. She grew up in the HSNC community.
“When my elementary school was predominantly Caucasian, it was really nice to have a separate community where I could learn more about my culture and feel more connected to how my parents grew up,” she said. .
She says she especially loves the music and dance festival events. They attract thousands of participants. It’s a taste of India away from India, where thirty different regional languages are spoken.
“That’s how we try to keep the younger generation,” Pandya said, “with the languages, with the traditions, with the culture here.”
They serve all generations and have done so for over 45 years, connecting a community through culture and faith.
The Hindu Society of North Carolina is funded by donations.
It plans to expand its campus over the next few years, with a future yoga center, as well as outdoor and indoor volleyball and basketball courts.