Asian residents welcome Meeks to Hindu, Sikh temples
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (r.) compliments
community leader Albert Baldeo during a series of
meet-and-greet appearances at Hindu and Sikh temples
Saturday. Baldeo helped organize the visit. Photo by Jeremy Walsh.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica)
took a detour from Jamaica and Washington, D.C., Sunday to visit the
South Asian population in the west of his district.
The congressman visited one Hindu temple and two Sikh temples on a
meet-and-greet trip where he touted the benefits of the
newly passed federal economic stimulus package and the importance of
diversity in the United States.
“America needs to have a new image, and it has to have new people
to make that change,” Meeks told the roughly 200 Hindus at the
Tri Murti Bhavan Mandir in Ozone Park, emphasizing the contributions of
immigrants to society.
Community leader Albert Baldeo pointed out that the area’s strong
Indo-Caribbean population had a special connection to Meeks,
whose wife is of Guyanese descent.
“We actually have a piece of Congressman Meeks’ family
heritage,” he said.
Meeks also answered congregants’ questions about the economy with
reassurances about the stimulus package.
“It will bring 7,500 jobs to the 6th Congressional
District,” he said. “We want to make sure those jobs are
created through local businesses.”
Meeks assured the audience that President Barack Obama’s strategy
of mortgage relief was aimed at individual homeowners like those in
Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.
“Yes, he’s concerned about Wall Street, but he’s also
concerned about Main Street,” Meeks said.
The congressman was less able to assure one Hindu religious leader who
asked Meeks to lead a movement to give Hindus waterfront spots for
worship across the country.
“Our devotees from time to time go to the
ocean to worship,” said Bavindradati Parasram, president of the
USA Pandits Parashad, an organization of Hindu clergymen. “We are
always worried about the city giving us a fine.”
“What you indicated would probably be covered by the city or the
state,” he said, suggesting he contact with the local City
Council member or the mayor’s office. “I think it is a
situation in which we need to have a conversation.”
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