As the Hindu population has grown in Queens over the last decade, so too has the amount of ritual debris — clothing, statues, even cremation ashes — lining the banks of the bay in Gateway National Recreation Area.How could anyone who's seen the filth around the ghats of Varanasi (or Rameswaram, to not pick on North Indians) even think about throwing stuff into the water? It turns out that the culprits are not immigrants from India, it's immigrants from the West Indies. Since they are several generations removed from India, their cultural memory is of a relatively cleaner 1800s India and the religious milieu of that time.
Fortunately, outreach to the local temples seems to have helped:
The beach was “really disgustingly filthy,” said Nagassar Ramgarib, a retired electrician and a leader at a Queens temple, Shiva Mandir. “I was deeply ashamed of what my culture, Hinduism, has contributed to.” He rallied several members of his temple to help clean up, and he began working with park officials ... “They should understand we are in a different country now,” said Pandit B. Rishi Misir, a Brooklyn priest who leads a Hindu group, USA Pandits’ Parishad. “Our scripture does mention that we should follow the country’s rules and regulations. But some people are very stubborn.”But, it's still a problem without an end in sight:
And many Hindus have obliged. But as new immigrants arrive, unaware of the rules, and others refuse to change their ways, park rangers have intermittently forsaken good-cop sensitivity for bad-cop force: installing signs, closing the parking lot at night and threatening to hand out $75 fines, to little avail.