Hinduism in Belgium

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Rue Colonel Van Gele 6, Etterbeek

Hinduism is a minority religion in Belgium. There are estimated to be about 6,500 Hindus in the country, which includes 1,500 Hare Krishnas and 5,000 other Hindus.[1] This does not count Buddhists, who are treated as a different religious community by the Belgian government. Hindu religious or monastic orders that are active in Belgium are ISKCON and the Brahma Kumaris.

There is only one Hindu temple of any size in the country. Spread over 135 acres, the temple was consecrated in 2009.[2]

Indian community in Belgium[edit]

There are about 7,000 people of Indian origin in Belgium.

A section of immigrants from Palanpur district in Gujarat entered the port city of Antwerp to work with the Jewish community in the diamond business, and eventually started their own.[3]

The Antwerp Indians still form a very tightly knit group and actively celebrate Indian festivals.

Indian software companies like Aricent, HCL, TCS, Daffodil Software Ltd and Infosys have a presence in Belgium.

Some farm labourers and shop-hands, mainly immigrants from North India, have also entered Belgium illegally.[4]

Indian associations in Belgium[edit]

Despite the small size of the community there are several Indian cultural associations. The leading ones are Indo-Belgian Association,[5] Indian Cultural Centre ASBL[6] and Antwerp India Association.

The Hindu Forum of Belgium (HFB or FHB)[7] was created by Hindu organisations in Belgium. It was launched on 16 March 2007 in Brussels.

A handful of Indians work in the financial institutions based in Luxembourg, which boasts an Indian Association. As in the Netherlands, Belgians regularly adopt children from India.[4]

There are about 250 families engaged in diamond trade in Antwerp. Many of the other Indians living in Belgium are professionals employed with either multinational companies or other professional organisations.[8]

Indo-Belgian Association VZW-ASBL[edit]

Indo-Belgian Association or InBelg[5] has emerged as the largest Indian non-profit organization with more than 9000 people in it. The main objective of InBelg is to organize events for, about and around Indians and India-related themes in Belgium and elsewhere. InBelg has eight units which organize city-specific or group-specific events: InBelg Gent, InBelg Brussels, InBelg Leuven, InBelg Antwerp, InBelg Women's Club, InBelg Students Club, See-EU and See-India. InBelg organizes around 60 events throughout the year, including Indian festivals, Bollywood movie shows, food fairs, India-info evenings, trips to various parts of Europe, lectures, Indian cooking lessons, and workshops.

Nepalese Hindu community in Belgium[edit]

It is estimated that around 6000 Hindu of Nepalese origin live in Belgium. Leuven, Antwerpen, Brussels and Brugge are the major cities where Nepali Hindus live. They organize cultural and religious activities on special occasions each year. The main rituals like Nwaran, Pasni, birthday, Bratabandha, marriage, and Griha prabhesh are performed at their homes. They also organize Devi Puja and Shiva Puja on Navarati and Shivaratri.

The Nepali community has not built a temple yet but they intend to establish it to preserve Hindu culture and tradition. Shreemad Bhagabat Mahayagya was organized to meet this target but it is still in process. Ram Hari Shasti has contributed his time and effort as a Hindu priest for the Nepalese and Hindu community in Belgium.

Hindu organizations[edit]

Sanatan Dharma Sewa Parisad[edit]

This is the oldest Hindu cultural association in Belgium. Different Puja and praying are organized on special occasions like Shivaratri and Shravan month. In recent years, it has been celebrating Shree Krishnastami festival with ISKCON in Durby.

Jayatu Sanskritam[edit]

This association works to promote Hindu traditional culture in Belgium. It was the main organizer of Shremad Bhagabat Mahapuran held in Leuven in 2011. It was a huge Mahayaga organized for the first time in Belgium and around 5000 devotees actively participated. Other associations like Sai Pariwar Belgium and Sanatan Dharma Sewa Parisad were actively present there.

Satya Sai Pariwar[edit]

Satya Sai Bhajan Mandali is a Hindu association of Nepalese people in Belgium. They organize Sai Bhajan every Sunday in Leuven, Antwerpen and Oostende. They have also collaborated with Satya Sai Kendra of Brussels.

ISKCON in Belgium[edit]

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is active in Belgium. An ISKCON temple has been built in Septon-Durbuy and is known as Radhadesh. ISKCON centers have been established in Antwerp and Gent. In other towns, where no such center exists, "local get-together programs" are organized periodically at the homes of private individuals where worship of Krishna is conducted. This is generally organized on festive occasions like Janmashtami and Deepavali.

ISKCON has the following activities in Belgium:

  • Centre-1: ISKCON Center, Antwerpen, Belgium
  • Centre-2: Local Get-together Program, Ghent, Belgium
  • Center-3: ISKCON Radhadesh temple, in the Septon neighbourhood of Durbuy. This is the only proper ISKCON temple in Belgium. It includes:
    • The main temple, a grand structure where daily worship is performed and festivals are celebrated
    • Bhaktivedanta Library Services (BLS), a substantial library and research facility
    • Bhaktivedanta College, a religious denomination educational campus, the only Hindu Vaishnava university in Belgium
    • Radhadesh Govinda, the local edition of ISKCON's Food for Life program

Balinese Hinduism[edit]

Two Balinese Temples exist in the Pairi Daiza botanical garden in Belgium.[9][10]

External links[edit]