Important Devotee Safety & Experience Update

Web TeamAnnouncement

Dear Devotees,

Ensuring safety and security of its congregants is the foremost fiduciary responsibility of the Hindu Society of North East Florida.

There was a time when our community was small and we could accommodate most of our congregation in a narrow span of a couple of hours in one hall. But over the years our community has grown rapidly and will continue to expand in the future.

As a result, we are facing increasing challenges to accommodate all devotees in the Temple facilities at the same time during the seven or eight large functions we have in the year related to major festivals. This practice is carried forward from our initial years, when the congregation was small. 

This practice is now posing multiple concerns and risks, the first and foremost being the safety of our members. Crowd management is getting increasingly arduous. We are routinely exceeding Fire Marshall & City Codes related to capacity limits on these days resulting in unsafe conditions. We are particularly concerned about the safety and well being of the infants, children, elderly, handicapped, and those who have to use walkers & wheelchairs in crowded conditions. Parking management has become a formidable & unnerving task on these days. Many devotees have stopped coming to the Temple on these occasions because of these issues.

In order to address these pressing and growing concerns as well as to enhance comfort and experience for all devotees in our growing congregation during their Temple visit, several GENERAL logistic procedures are being instituted on selective festival days starting with Janmashtami Celebration (August 25th) this year.

Any SPECIFIC adjustments related to a particular major festival celebration will be communicated to you in advance.

We ask for your cooperation with these procedures to improve safety, security and experience for all. We very much appreciate your understanding and support in this important matter. If you have any suggestions as to how we might further enhance devotee experience and safety, please do not hesitate to let any of the Board members or office staff know.

After due discussion & substantial input from Srinath ji the members unanimously proposed the below procedure for Enhancing Devotee Safety and Experience in the Temple Facilities on selective major festival days including: 
New Year’sDay, Sankranti, Mahashivaratri, Ugadi/Gudipadva, Ramnavami,  Janmashtami Ganesh Chaturthi, Dassera, Deepavali, Annakoot.

GENERAL Format on Major Festival Days:

1.Temple will be open all day to help spread out devotee visits and allow for a more peaceful and contemplative experience.

2.Certain major festivals will be observed on their actual day and also on nearest weekend to allow larger number of devotees to participate while helping prevent overcrowding. Details will be communicated to the congregation in advance.

3. Only Sarva Darshan will be scheduled from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.. During these hours no rituals or pujas will be performed.

4. Rituals and pujas will be conducted in the morning from 9 am to 11 am and in afternoon prior to5 pm. Adjustments in timings for ritual & puja services for specific festivals will be made as necessary and announced in advance so that the interested devotees could avail of these services.

5. On these special days Aarati will be performed throughout the day at: 11.45 am, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm and 8;30 pm. If there is an adjustment to be made for specific festivals, it will be announced in advance.

6. Samudaik Archana will be conducted at 6:25 pm, 7:25 pm and 8:25 pm. Devotees wishing to offer Archana will need to collect the necessary paid receipt from the Temple office prior and be present in the sanctum area a few minutes before the Samudaik Archana time.

7.Targeted service for the younger generation (children/youth/young adults) will be held from 5:45 pm to 6:15 pm to educate and help this section of our congregation better understand and connect with our religious, spiritual & cultural heritage. All devotees and all those interested from the community at large would also be most welcome to attend. In case of any change in the timing of this program, on a specific festival day, announcement will be made in advance.

8. For devotees who visit the Temple while a ritual or puja is in progress and prefer to have Darshan and leave without participating in the entire proceeding, Aarati, Prasad & Charanamrut will be kept on a table against the wall across Ganesha murthi from which they could partake.

9. The Society will not engage in providing meals in the temple as Prasad on these major festival days in the interest of safety, crowd management, public hygiene and prevention of rodent infestation.  Any food distribution will be setup outside under specially erected tents, or inside HSNEF Kitchen (house next door) only.