Hinduism is one of the fastest growing religions in the State and worshipers in Middlesex County will have more choices for worship as a new temple is planned in Old Bridge Township.

The temple names Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandi is set to open down road from the Town Hall in the center of the township.  The 20,000 square feet temple will be a replica of a famous temple of the same name in Varanasi, India.

Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry is proud to welcome the new house of worship into the township, and says it’s just one of the several projects in the pipeline.

“We have one meditation temple that was approved in our southerly part of the town (off Englishtown Road and Penchant Road) within the last six months. We have two practicing temples in town that have been here for a number of years. We have another application before our planning board for the construction of a new religious facility on route 34.”

Henry says the practitioners of the Hindu faith are the largest growing population in town, and he believes that they’re just catching up with the needs of the population to worship in.

“It’s a correction now, so that the people living here in Old Bridge who have been living here for a while, and as their population has increased they like to worship in town instead of going outside the town.”

However, he notes however it all works together in harmony with the other religions present in town.

“We’ve seen no loss in Catholic Churches; we’ve seen no loss in Catholic Schools here in town.”

Many practitioners are moving into new towns from traditionally Indian and Hindu enclaves like Edison and Woodbridge and want to worship in their residences, which Henry says is all part of our countries freedom of religion.

He adds that towns need to be proactive with all religions especially in a state which already is the most culturally diverse one in the Country.

Henry notes there have been some concerns about the use of the facilities which have to do with religious practices and traditions which prior regulations might not have taken into account.

“It’s a little less traditional than we’re used to, like with a Catholic Church you would have a rectory that would house three or four priests whereas some of these religions they require more housing and dormitories for more clergy than we’re used to.”

However he says the town has reacted by changing some of their zoning policies and updated land use laws.  Adding, towns should always look at their zoning and planning and adjust accordingly.

Henry says really the opposition has been less from people opposed to the houses of worships being built, but rather from them being built in “their backyard.”

They’re concerned with their property values and what kind of impact is it going to have on their life from going to a fully wooded area to a religious facility-some of which function all week, or early morning, or late at night.”

Ultimately Henry believes this will a positive since it provides the community with the benefits that the municipality can’t provide, noting it will have meeting rooms and facilities for festivals, and that’s all community based and that’s what makes up the community.