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Beauty of the Indian American culture here in San Diego

The ‘Shri Mandir’ temple has been in San Diego for 30 years, currently located in an area of Mira Mesa called, 'Little India.'

SAN DIEGO — For many people in the Indian culture, the temple plays a central role in their community.  CBS 8 visited the ‘Shri Mandir’ temple in Mira Mesa as Hindu priest Sudarshan Bhattar stood before the altar chanting and praying to one of their avatars.

“Total surrendering to the God and accepting what he is giving through the water is like a blessing what we are getting into our life,” said Priest Bhattar.

“In Sanskrit, it is saying, ‘You are the Almighty.  We are humble.  We are in front of you.  We are offering this food.  Please bless,” said Raj Aggarwal, President of the Executive Committee for the Shri Mandir temple.  “You know, all the things that human beings do when they talk to God.”

The ‘Shri Mandir’ temple has been in San Diego for 30 years, currently located in an area of Mira Mesa called, ‘Little India.’  Aggarwal says Hinduism is known for its flexibility.

“No two people are alike in their tendencies, in their thought processes, in their framework, and the religion accommodates that,” said Aggarwal.  “So it allows the flexibility to connect directly to God so there is nobody between you and God.”

For many Indian Americans living in San Diego, the temple is a place for peace and calm.

“Good place to be and stay focused,” said Dave Mudid.  “Just stay calm and sit for a few minutes and you will come out with a calmness.”

“It’s very nice.  It’s diverse,” said Minal Shah.  “We pray to a lot of gods in India, so they have all the gods we pray to basically and the priest and everyone is very welcoming and they do the pooja very, very sincerely.”

The temple sits in a plaza called, ‘Little India Center’ on Miramar Road with Indian restaurants, clothing stores, and grocery stores all within close proximity to each other.  CBS 8 caught up with Dave Mudid at the Chennai Tiffins restaurant as he was enjoying a delicious lunch with what’s called a ‘south Indian thali.’

“Lentils, all this is lentils,” said Mudid.  “And this is ‘succi.’  It’s kind of like a dessert.”

When Mudid wants to cook for himself, he shops at the nearby Akshar Cash ‘n Carry for their wide selection of spices.

“Indian spices,” said Mudid.  “I like cinnamon and cloves and cardamom.”

Akshar store manager Nitin Pater gave us a tour of their grocery store, pointing out all the many products that are imported straight from India.

“This is all pickles,” said Pater.  “This is like most important part of our food.  It gives you extra taste and extra jump in your food.  Each are from different part of India, like North India, South India.”

He says customers appreciate having a little slice of their home country here in San Diego.

“People love it,” said Paters.  “When people see all these products, people get really excited, ‘See this is the thing I want from my home country.’”

At a nearby clothing store called, ‘Bombay Fashion,’ owner Sukhveer Josan pointed out the many styles of clothing they carry. 

“These items are very well-embellished and a lot of different type of embroidery on them,” said Josan.  “It’s full of colors.”

With over 30,000 Indian Americans living in San Diego, their population here is growing as the beauty of their culture has become an integral part of the fabric of this city.

“Everybody needs their own culture and then they need to respect each other,” said Mudid.  “I love that part.”

“Growing diversity,” said Neal Alagia.  “That’s America, right?  A melting pot.”

Watch Related: The History of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May 2022)

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