A Rush of Blood to the Head

As some of you may have seen on our News tab, a Hindu temple in Minnesota was recently vandalized pretty severely:

The severed head of Andal Devi

Two 19-year-olds were arrested May 10 and charged with vandalising a partially completed Hindu temple in Maple Grove, MN, on April 5.

Maple Grove Police arrested local resident Paul Gus Spakousky and Tyler William Tuomie of Andover, MN, and charged them with first-degree criminal damage to property and third-degree burglary, both felonies…

Several of the deities were damaged in the attack, forcing the organisers to postpone the scheduled June 4 inauguration of the 43,000 square feet temple built at a cost of $9 million (about Rs 40 crore). [Link]

Punkistani follows up with more details [via Sanjay]:

That’s the head of Andal Devi, and just one of eight sacred likenesses that were defiled in a Hindu Temple set to open on June 1st. By defiled, I mean the statues were decapitated and dismembered…

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p>It’s pretty damned recent. The scoop is that vandals punctured walls and broke into a Hindu temple, ruined some Hindu Gods and left. Property destruction is never that focussed unless it’s a deliberate attempt to intimidate. Nearby Churches went untouched.

Six hundred people attended the community meeting that followed, where reports of neighborhood Indians having their houses vandalized and egged were exchanged. The attending Police Captain, Tracy Stille, verified these stories. [Link]

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p>The Kominas, a Muslim punk band that we have previously blogged about, have decided to rush to the aid of the temple and their fellow South Asian Americans. They are putting on a concert to raise money for rebuilding the temple and it would be cool if our New York readers could represent.

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p>Here are some details about the show and how it came about:

Well, I got in talks with the good folks at Galapagos to set up a Taqwacore benefit show, and the date’s been confirmed for June 17th.

That’s right: The Kominas are playing a benefit for the desecrated Temple on Saturday, June 17th 2006 at Galapagos Art Space (the huge backroom), located at 70 North 6th Street , Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211

News of the temple’s desecration bothered a lot of folks, nevermind South Asians. But I’ve got a fairly diverse selection of Desi Punk and rock acts who’s eager to round out the bill. I’ll get that schedule drawn up ASAP, pakka.

The treasurer of said Maple Grove Temple contacted me, and his letter was really quite sweet:

“Salam Aleikum Basim Mian,

Thank you for your kind words. We are all glad to see the solidarity of our community. You may send the check to [omitted]

Best Wishes. We hope you have a great concert.

Vaddu Chari”


He said Salam Aleikum to me! I can’t get over how cool that is. As Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalis, Sri Lankans… just as a huge diaspora, there’s a lot we can do to reinforce the ties to our des. Especially nowadays, when hostility regarding out sourcing, Islamophobia, and Johnny Appleseed’s own American bigotry has been piled on the shoulder of every Desi in America. [Link]

You can listen to some tracks by the Kominas here.

The Minnesota Temple officials appear shortsighted when it comes to the destruction of their temple. They don’t care to label the bigotry as a hate-crime “unless it will help track down the vandals.” [Link]

It’s left to us to teach the state of Minnesota the meaning of civilization.

Contact Agencies that may have the contacts to get the story heard. When it comes to Minnesota civil liberties initiatives, I’m only familiar with Project Common Ground, who deal with racism in our schools. They’re funded by the Wilder Foundation.

You can contact Project Common Ground with these numbers. [Link]

16 thoughts on “A Rush of Blood to the Head

  1. Out of adversity the unity and love shown by the Kominas is beautiful. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs should be united and friends in the West. Peace and Love to all.

    ~Prem~

  2. Its F’n minnesota, you should need a fn passport to get there. Who really in their right mind swallows this one nation united bs? Hindus should just move out of or take over the whole damn state. I’d just go to minnesota to stop off at prince’s place and grind mud into his couch. Oops that was rick james my bad

  3. allah u akbar!!! no longer shall the faithful smite the idolater and crush underfoot the images of the no-gods, but they shall raise up their temples and pay homage to the many faces of allah!

  4. why must we “teach the state of minnesota the meaning of civilization?”

    let’s be fair here, maple grove (according to google maps) is a suburb minneapolis – which as an tri-state area girl, born and bred who visited seemed to be fairly open minded, diverse city – not the cultural wasteland that some comments here are painting it as.

    the vandalization is inexucasable in any location (a temple in my highly diverse town in new jersey was vandalized every year too), and minnesotan officials should have addressed the situation a little differently, knowing the emotional connections people have to a place of worship – but “teaching the state of minnesota” seems like over-generalizing.

  5. Is it just me or crimes committed against “brown” people going up? I have a theory, may be the ignorant in America are being stirred up by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t know, what do other people think.

  6. He said Salam Aleikum to me! I canÂ’t get over how cool that is. As Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalis, Sri LankansÂ… just as a huge diaspora, thereÂ’s a lot we can do to reinforce the ties to our des. Especially nowadays, when hostility regarding out sourcing, Islamophobia, and Johnny AppleseedÂ’s own American bigotry has been piled on the shoulder of every Desi in America.

    This is really cool. Thanks for posting this–it’s heartening to see amidst what sometimes feels like a sea of confusion and negativity on religious relations in South Asia.

  7. This was an act of vandalism, as upsetting and ugly as it was. But what is happening in Malaysia — where six temples (some of which are over a hundred years old) have been demolished by official authorities in the space of under three months, often with barely any notice — feels pre-genocidal. I don’t say this with the intention of hyping my own thing, but there are several links and some posts on my blog related to this. Fewer but equally disturbing attacks have also been made on Buddhist and Christian places of worship. There has been a media blackout in Malaysia with regards to the issue, but hopefully the international desi community will start paying attention to the deliberate and institutionalised persecution that the country’s Hindu minority — minorities in general, in fact — are facing.

  8. Muslim youth in NY helping a Hindu temple in MN, and a priest returning it with Salaam Aleikum. This is what I hoped coming to America would do for our multi-faith, multi-hued culture and moves me to no end. There is hope yet.

    The fear some Hindu Minnesotans say they feel about living in that state is paranoia. Two kids wrecking something they don’t understand due to their own racism, angst, ignorance and boredom doesn’t constitute a hate crime. Now, if police can prove the kids’ link to a larger, violence-inciting organization and/or more such incidents sprout up, the hate criminologists have a case.

  9. They sound like a bunch of typical dumb asses, but not hate criminals per se. Just dumb as rocks.

  10. I’m from the Twin Cities not born but definitely raised and I’d have to say that Minnesota is probably one of the more progressive and inclusive states in our beautiful Union despite our lack of diversity. It would be difficult for me to see myself in any other place given how beautiful and kind our state is– I think that the Maple Grove incident is a blatant hate crime given the fact that minus a few Catholic Churches that have been vandalized around the area it is not a matter of coincidence that it was a Hindu temple and not a Lutheran or Baptist or anything else— we’re obviously in stark contrast to the Nords, Swedes and Germans that abound in Minnesota and i have a feeling that some idiot burbanites with little to do in a growing suburb decided to take part in some good ol’ bigotry. I think this sort of thing needs to be publicized more. A Hindu temple esp. one so large in Minnesota is a big deal and it says to the Desi community and the larger Minnesotan community as a whole that we are here to stay and that we ‘belong’. I was a little upset that there wasn’t more coverage in our state about it and I think that when any sort of vandalism occurs there needs to be outrage– somehow I don’t see that coming from our parents and I think it needs to come from their more vocal/rebellious offspring. Not sure where I am going with this– I suppose I just wanted to put in my two cents given that this happened so close to home.

  11. Wow, it means a lot to get plugged here. I read about Tipu Sultaan, and the Mutiny of Sepoy all the time, you could say I’m a junkie. As my urdu’s gotten better, I’ve been trying to dig into classic literature, or at least have excited uncles guide me through it. It’s all this struggle to dig into some kind of identity for myself, and I’m glad the conclusions I reach resonate with others. That “teach them the meaning of civilization” line was lifted from Public Enemy’s “By the time I get to Arizona”. That was a track, wasn’t it?

    PE in effect! See you at the show ;) Basim

  12. Sharanya, thanks for the links. The poem is also very relevant. SM, pick up on this soon: What’s happening in Malaysia is serious.

  13. It’s easy to get jaded by Indo_Pak relations but reading about the Kominas doing this fundraiser was very moving. I grew up listening to ska, punk, metal and ragas of course. I’ll definitely be at the Brooklyn show. Cheers.