The Later Years
This part of the history of the Association begins on the 11th of June 1969, the Anniversary of its founding, and the inauguration of the Shri Dev Mandir (Wat Themonthien). Since 1969, the Association has been very active, according to their beliefs and traditions, in community service areas such as the Bharata Vidhalaya (school), education and social development of the community at large. Through the temple, they have been concentrating on the attainment of religious and spiritual values by the Hindu community and families and, at the same time, they have respectfully been supporting the Buddhist Faith through donations and by taking part in ceremonies and other religious activities both at Association and at individual level. The Hindu Samaj is registered as a religious association. It is officially recognized by the Thai Government and it comes under the jurisdiction of the Religious Office of the Ministry of Education. Its profile and activities are described in synthesis in the Thailand Year Book series in the Chapter on Religions, under the Hinduism Section, and under the heading “Hindu Samaj”. The present community is mostly from Punjab and it is up to 4-5 times larger than in 1969 according to Shivnath Rai Bajaj. It recognizes in itself four main waves: the first group, the pioneers, who arrived in Thailand before WWII; the second who arrived just after WWII; the third, the intermediate one, mostly born in India but grown up in Thailand, who served on the Association committee actively from the late 1960s to the 1980s; and, fourth, the young one – relatively speaking as they are mostly in the 40-60 year age group – which is currently serving on the committee and assisting it in ongoing activities. A fifth wave, the youngest, is possibly shaping up now and may find its grass roots in the newly founded youth group. From a distance of 71 years, from its simple origins as a gathering to provide for the cultural and social needs of a small expatriate community, one can see how the idealistic drive of its founder, Pandit Raghunath Sharma, their spiritual leader, has sown very fertile seeds of a spirit which is still very much alive and bearing fruit in the youngest generation.