FRISCO, Texas — May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we’ve been learning so much about communities across Asia and the Pacific Islands.
We wanted to focus on how some Indian communities across North Texas are dealing with their loved ones stuck during the COVID-19 crisis with nowhere to go. WFAA visited a church and a Hindu temple that are sending out messages of love and peace in a unique way.
From the outside of the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple in Frisco sits elephant statues made in the likeness of Lord Ganesh. Each of these fine details are hand-carved religious gods.
It took workers from India three years to build this temple from the ground up.
During Sunday morning's prayer service, in front of the fire, priests chanted in Sanskrit and prayed for India, where COVID-19 is claiming the lives of at least 4,000 people a day, with more than 21 million cases so far.
"These particular vibrations actually travel, they travel all across the globe,” said Prakasarao Velagapudi, the Karya Siddhi Hanuman temple chairman.
The prayers were streamed worldwide, and the smoke from the fire "will go all the way up to the sky, then as if he is an ambassador of all of our concerns, and tell our almighty,” said Sidhi.
“We are suffering from coronavirus. Not only we, the whole world,” said priest Tirumala Saimath.
Priest Tirumala Saimath is from Mysore, which is near Bangalore.
“Not only India, America, but all the world should be in peace," said Saimath.
Inside the temple, dozens of families lined up to pay their respects in person to the five gods. Lord Hanuman is placed in the middle, symbolizing pure devotion.
“Anything that we do, there is a scripture into how it should be done,” said Velagapudi.
Hanuman's statue is even structurally built to hold the temple in place.
“There is energy that comes in from there,” said Laxmi Tummala, with Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple.
Many of these families that were waiting in line at the temple share a similar story. They have family back home in India, and they can’t get there, so they say coming here to the temple, seeing a priest, and seeing the gods here, brings them some solace.
“There is so much togetherness. Taking care of your parents is a huge part of their culture. For people here, not being able to do that is devastating,” Tummala said.
India has more than 20 different official languages, and at least six different major religions. With all the different languages, Indians across North Texas are sending the same message: They are praying for hope.
“Lord, you’re enough for India, Lord Jesus, hallelujah,” are the prayers heard on YouTube from the Metro Church of God in Farmers Branch.
“The commonality is humanity, and we see people are suffering,” said Metro Church of God senior pastor Satish Kumar.
But it’s the light at the end of the tunnel many are waiting for.
“People are coming together to help one another,” Kumar said.
See below for a list of trusted groups to donate to in order to help fight COVID-19 in India.