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Hindu Temple & Cultural Center

Flowers are draped around deities arrayed on a stage next to a light orange wall. Their open palms, which symbolize protection for visitors, are raised. On the evening, couples and families trickle into the well-lighted assembly hall of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center. Priest Deekshith lifts a candle, slowly waving the flame in a circular motion to receive the deities’ blessings. Worshippers hold their hands over the flame so that goodwill can touch them.

For Hindus in the Northwest, this has become a central place to worship a supreme being and focus on the different deities who symbolize this God and non-violence, prosperity, good health, respect, and knowing right from wrong. But the largest Hindu temple in the area is also a place for young and old, immigrant and American-born alike, to be part of a community. The dream for this temple started 18 years ago, said Vijay Vashee, temple board chairman. Back then, followers of Hinduism would gather in their homes to pray. Today, this is a building where people are welcome in a place where some feel lost.

The Hindu community has grown dramatically in the Seattle area, especially in the 1990s. Many Hindus from India have come to work for The Boeing Co. and for Microsoft Corp. and other high-tech firms. Storekeepers, restaurant owners and students are members, too. Most of the worshippers at this temple are ethnic Indians, though Hindus also come from other parts of the world. In February, the temple held a ceremony to honor deities brought in from different areas throughout India to help all visitors feel comfortable. When the temple celebrated the three-day event, 2,500 people attended, Vashee said. About 500 people had been expected.

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