Guyanese native spearheads Hindu museum in Canada
February 8, 2004
A museum of Hindu civilization, the brainchild of Guyana-born Dr Budhendra Doobay, which will feature artefacts dating back to 2,500 BC, is going up on Toronto's famous Yonge Street in Canada.
According to a report in the Toronto Star, Dr Doobay, now 63 years old, first had the idea five years ago while entertaining some schoolchildren at Richmond Hill's Vishnu Temple which he helped found in 1983.
"Young people do not understand Hindu rituals, customs and heritage. Some of them are learning it from people who don't fully understand the religion, and they are bored by going to the temples," Doobay told the Toronto Star.
After some aggressive fundraising, the 250,000-strong Hindu community in Greater Toronto collected half of the money towards the $5 million project.
The Canadian Museum of Hindu Civilization on Yonge Street, just north of Highway 7 and attached to the existing Vishnu Temple, has 17,000 square feet of exhibit space divided into three levels and is expected to draw 300,000 visitors a year.
Among its features will be artefacts and displays dating back to 2,500 BC for the period of Indus Valley Civiliz-ation, covering the Smriti/ Shruti and Indo-Aryan periods; classical and medie-val theism with displays explaining Hindu symbolisms, rituals and their origins, as well as displays of the contemporary living culture of Hindu heritage.
Over the coming weeks, a long white sheet of marble with relief murals will be placed at the museum's Yonge Street entrance. Against the backdrop of a 5.5-metre bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi, three flagpoles will be hoisted to reflect the time when Gandhi spun cotton in a pre-colonial struggle for India's independence from British rule.
To bring the museum up to speed with the changing technology, a cosmic theatre will be built on the second level, cutting through the top level, using a 3-D visual medium to show visitors the birth and evolution of Hinduism.
"Our goal is not only to bring Hindu civilization to the Hindi people but also to all non-Hindi people who are interested in our religion and philosophy," Doobay told the newspaper.
Asha Seth, a director of the museum, said Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists have all financially contributed to the project, which encompasses Hinduism's philosophy of peace and harmony.
Doobay said the museum is now in full gear preparing for its first exhibit, Temples of Time, to be launched on April 26 in Richmond Hill, as a preview of what the facility will look like when it is completed in three years.
The museum's website is at http://www.cmohc.ca
Dr Doobay migrated to Canada in 1975. He is the past chairman of the Federation of Hindu Temples of Canada, and a former head of vascular surgery at Hamilton Civic Hospital.
The museum will be the first of its kind in North America, the Toronto Star said.