Devotees in Stockholm, Sweden, are campaigning to save their Hare Krishna Center, which has served the public for 34 years and is the oldest Hindu temple in the city.
Every three years so far, the Center has renewed its lease with its landlord, Familjebostader (Family Residences), a property company that is owned by the Municipality of Stockholm and builds properties for public benefit.
But in December 2014, the company cancelled ISKCON’s rental contract, effective September 2015, with plans to use the building for another purpose.
While this is a legal practice, the law also requires the the company to provide compensation for its renters, so that they can smoothly set up elsewhere. However so far it has agreed to provide only the absolute minimum compensation.
“That would mean we would not be able to relocate and would be forced to close down our activities,” says Tapas Das, who has been temple president since 1999.
The Hare Krishna Center’s first response was to bring the case to the public negotiations office. Because Family Residence’s contractor failed to start work on the set date, the office was able to make them postpone the eviction until September 30th this year.
In the meantime, devotees attempted to come to a settlement with Family Residences for more appropriate compensation, following the company’s own requirements.
University students chant and dance during a visit to learn about Krishna consciousness
“We put together a very comprehensive document including our history, details on what services we offer to society, and testimonies, and presented it to them in December 2015,” says Tapas. “But so far, their lawyer hasn’t responded. Biding time is their tactic.”
The document shows how the Hare Krishna Center is a cultural treasure for the city of Stockholm, bringing diversity and benefit to the public. It is reasonable to claim, devotees say, that a municipal property company has a special responsibility to take this public service into consideration.
Established in 1982, the Hare Krishna Center is located in Fridhemsplan, a busy and very accessible central area of Stockholm. It actually includes two separate buildings: the Center – with a holistic spiritual gift shop – and Govinda’s, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the city.