Oct 10, 2022 | Society
A new Hindu temple has opened close to the city of Kraków – the first in the region and one of few in Poland – at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries and the Indian ambassador.
The Radha Govind Bhakti Yog Mandir has been under construction in Brzegi – between Kraków and the nearby town of Wieliczka – since 2017. As well as serving a growing local Hindu community, it also aims to spread knowledge about India’s cultural and spiritual heritage.
As Poland has attracted unprecedented numbers of immigrants in recent years – among the most in the European Union – Indians have made up many of the new arrivals. Almost 8,000 received first residence permits last year, making them the fifth largest national group of new arrivals.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Artur Kozioł, mayor of Wieliczka, said that “each of us in the world builds their home according to their own culture, religion, tradition, what they have in their heart”.
“Today I want to emphasise how important your presence in this place is too,” he added. “You built a house in keeping with your own belief and faith, what you carry in your heart, and now together we are getting to know and understand each other and jointly seeking peace in these troubled times.”
The mayor also presented Indian ambassador Nagma Mohamed Mallick with a symbolic miner’s lamp, a reference to the historical salt mine in Wieliczka that makes the town a popular tourist destination.

The temple is open not only to Hindus and community members, but also to visitors, Jadwiga Zielińska – a representative of the Radha Govind Society of Poland, which runs the site, and is part of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat, an international non-profit organisation – told Gazeta Krakowska.
“We are open, we invite everyone,” she said. “The temple is beautiful so it is a pleasure to be able to show it to them. And people like to come here, even if they are not Hindus. They are happy here. They feel good here.”
Planning permission for the temple was received in late 2016 and construction began soon afterwards. It was expected to be completed in 2020, but work was delayed by factors including the pandemic.
A further dramatic setback came in August, when a 23-year-old resident of the ashram set fire to the building and vandalised part of the temple, reports Dziennik Polski.
Poland and India commemorate maharajas who sheltered thousands of Polish refugees in WW2

The temple is the first to be built by the international Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat in Europe and is a copy of the Radha Madhav Dham temple and ashram complex in Austin, Texas, reports Dziennik Polska.
The building, with a golden cupola, features an altar, space for prayer, rooms for meditation and yoga, library and shop, as well as a large garden. The complex also has an ashram including guest rooms, which was opened in 2006 when the society first acquired the site.
The two-day inauguration of the temple also included washing of its walls and floors with holy water, a fire ceremony, and deity establishment.
In addition to its religious activity, the Radha Govind Society also promotes Indian culture, and this summer Brzegi hosted an Indian fair organised jointly by the society and the Indo-Polish Cultural Committee.
Poland issues EU’s most residence permits to immigrants for fifth year running

Poland’s 2011 national census showed only 866 Hindus. That number is now likely to be far higher, given immigration over the last decade. Data on religion from the 2021 census have not yet been released.
The state statistics office estimated there to be 33,107 Indians in Poland at the end of 2019 (though not all Indians are Hindus). At least eight Hindu temples already exist in Poland, with the first having opened in 1980. The largest, the Hindu Bhavan Temple near Warsaw, was opened in 2010.
We interviewed Indian restaurant owner Suresh Goyal – who for years has been providing free food for Warsaw's homeless – in our article on how Polish society has been rallying to help those affected by coronavirus and medics on the front line https://t.co/iYNy2ZwbvX
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 26, 2020

Main image credit: Miasto i Gmina Wieliczka/Facebook
Ben Koschalka is a translator and senior editor at Notes from Poland. Originally from Britain, he has lived in Kraków since 2005.
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