First Hindu temple in the Dakotas to open near Sioux Falls

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Between them, North and South Dakota are home to a large number of churches, synagogues and mosques.

A Hindu temple will soon join those places of worship.

The Hindu Temple of Siouxland, in Tea, S.D., is expected to open in the fall and is said to be the first Hindu temple to operate in the Dakotas.

It will serve a growing population in the region that practices the world's third largest religion.

The temple is close to completion and is slated to open in September or October.

For Hindu residents of Fargo, the South Dakota location, a suburb of Sioux Falls, isn't a hinderance.

Vikram Pandey, a student at North Dakota State University, and Shyam Kadariya, a financial services professional, both said they know several people who make frequent trips to temples in Minneapolis for religious holidays or special events.

Currently, the closest temple to Fargo is in Maple Grove, Minn., a spot Kadariya says he and many others visit frequently.

Maple Grove and Tea are approximately the same distance from Fargo, about a three-hour drive to reach.

While the South Dakota location might not be a shorter travel compared with the temple in Minnesota, it does provide people with a second option, Kadariya said.

Efforts to build the South Dakota temple began in 2009 to accommodate a growing South Asian and Hindu community, said Archana Chatterjee, chairwoman of the temple's board of trustees.

The temple's opening ceremony will take place in September or October depending on when the temple is able to bring a priest from out of state to perform specific rituals on an auspicious day according to the Hindu calendar, Chatterjee said.

"We certainly hope this will be a resource for people up in North Dakota," she said.

A temple is a natural extension of Indian culture and is useful for those interested in spiritual pursuits or the Indian culture, said Gurmukh Advani, president of the Indo-American Association of Great Plains, an Indian cultural community organization that isn't affiliated with a religion.

A temple can also be an asset in building community programs and outreach, Advani said.

Pandey and Kadariya both said they feel like a temple in Fargo would service the South Asian population in North Dakota.

Pandey, president of NDSU's Association of Students from India, said a temple in Fargo can help Hindus sincere in practicing their religion and help families maintain an understanding of what Hinduism is.

"A temple is a good facility for people to have," Kadariya said.