Samachar Live

Hindu Community of Portugal – An Endeavor to Restore and Refurbish Hindu Culture in Portugal

Out of many grand temples around the world, the temple of Radha-Krishna in Lisboa, Portugal is famous for its serene beauty as well as the history behind creating it and purpose of building the temple by the Hindu Community of Portugal.

We met Shri Kiritkumar Bachu, President of the Hindu Community of Portugal and interviewed him to know the reason behind building the Radha-Krishna Temple and the purpose of creating the Hindu Community of Portugal.

Interview of Kiritkumar Bachu – President of Hindu Community of Portugal

1. Introduce yourself with your background and how you came to Portugal?
A. My name is Kiritkumar Bachu. I was born in Mozambique. Our family lived for 3 to 4 generations in Mozambique. My father was born there after my grandparents migrated from Gujarat to Mozambique. We migrated from Mozambique to Portugal in 1980. That was after the independence and decolonization of Mozambique because it was not very safe and it did not have proper education system. So, we had to go out in search of a better place and we selected Portugal because of the common language. Mozambique is in the Portuguese colony. We migrated to begin our business in Portugal.

2. Who was the founder of the Hindu Community which is been set up in Portugal, basically in the beautiful city of Lisbon. What came to their mind that they established a community like this?
A.The Hindu Community of Portugal was founded in 1978 to 1979. The foundation of the Hindu community was made because we needed something for Hindus in Portugal to restore our culture and values. Out of 9,000 Hindus migrated from Mozambique who were all Gujarati, five members initiated to register our community with the government as non-profitable society. So in that way we made Hindu Community in Portugal.

3. So are you one the founders?
A. No, I was not one of them. At that time, I was young and more focused on business and now I am volunteering for the Hindu Community for the last 20 years.

4. During the foundation of the Hindu Community and the Radha Krishnan temple, was there any political interference within the country or other communities?
A. Portugal is a country where people are very friendly, they stay like a family. They are very helpful people and fortunately the Government is also very supportive and positive. Our interest was not only the temple. Hindu Community of Portugal is not about the temple only. It is about organization of cultural, recreational, religious events, social gatherings, celebrations and functions during festivals like Navratri, Diwali, charity and other social initiatives etc.

5. So, they were not against you for forming this community?
. No, not at all. In fact, they were so supportive that the Lisbon City Council´s ( Camara Municipal de lisboa-C.M.L.) , President Eng. Krus Abecassis, temporarily provided on provisional basis, the basement of a large building, which was initially given to us for three years, but we actually we used it for about ten years (1984 to 1994), as the Festival Hall.

6. Does the Hindu Community of Portugal organize any kind of charity functions too?
Yes, we do many charity functions and social events like Blood Donation Camps, Food packets donation to needy people and many more.

7. The charity functions which you organize, is it just for the Hindus or everyone?
We collect packed foods and we give to the charity institutions so they deliver it. There are also volunteers who collect money and buy some foods and they help other people. But they are not recognized because they do it for others. Besides, we don’t believe in any kind of discrimination in doing charity. We welcome everyone in our temple and everyone is invited to be volunteer in various functions, festivals and charity events.

8. What other events are you doing for developing or improvising Indian culture in Portugal?
Our culture has disappeared in today’s time. And we want our youngsters to learn and restore it for our future generations too. So we are worried about that a lot. We organize various types of events and all kinds of religious festivals which are celebrated in India in this temple also. We also have Kathak dance classes which teaches throughout the year. Their teaching is not limited to the Hindu community but also others who are interested in it. And, interestingly, there are many Portuguese people who come to learn Kathak and also celebrate various festivals with us. I think that’s the classiness of this community.
We celebrate Navratri in a grand way just like it is celebrated by Gujaratis in India. We also celebrate Diwali and have Diwali functions where most of the youngsters participate in the most enthusiastic ways. This year we had more than 200 youngsters who participated on stage. The entire auditorium was completely full. In that way, we try to promote our Hindu culture. Besides that, we are many times called by the government because they wanted to know about our culture and our representative goes there to explain them about our work, our culture and also our background.

9.  Do you organize anything like Bhagwat Geeta Puraan or Geeta Paath in the Radha-Krishnan temple or during some festivals?
Yes, we organise Bhagwat Geeta Puran once a year. Besides celebration, we also explain people the importance of Bhagwat Geeta in our lives. Also, Bhagwat Geeta books are available in Portuguese language in our temple.

10.  Do you have a message for the Indian visitors visiting or migrating to Portugal?
Any Indians who come here they want vegetarian food. And they get the vegetarian food in our temple. Or any Hindus who come here, in search of the temples, they are welcomed. So the Hindus come here and they interact with us. We also guide them our staff helps them. We raise our funds and we don’t have any backups like other religious community have. This community is not run by any trust. We all are work as volunteers. I would like to welcome everyone especially Hindus to come here for a peaceful, traditional and cultural environment. Anyone can come and join us for festivals and events, they can also volunteer if they wish to. We always extend our hand of help to everyone who is in needs.

11.  Any message for today’s generation and all the youngsters?
Well, especially to people staying in Portugal. I want all of them to come to the temple and try to understand our religion. And would like to say that our culture our religion is so vast. They all should study our religion and also the old books and anything that we don’t know and so many things could be discovered from that. In fact, Europeans are more keen and interested to know about our culture. I would really request our youngsters to learn our religion and also interact with other people especially with their own parents and grandparents because it is disappearing day by day. My age is 67 but I used to stay with my grandmother. And she used to tell me so many things about our culture and about our religion.

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