Louisville ‘paints away hate’ at the Swaminarayan Temple


Sabrina Naser

Last Saturday, over 500 community members helped clean hateful graffiti messages two Louisville teens left on the Swaminarayan Temple on Bardstown Road on Jan. 30.

The graffiti was on the temple’s interior, with most of the vandalization in the children’s room. Louisville Metro Police Department stationed officers and additional security to oversee the clean-up. 

The volunteer clean-up was from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Swaminarayan Temple asked volunteers to assist in cleaning the messages, painting over them and repairing damaged windows and walls.

“We had a huge turnout, which was amazing because we were done with all the work by 11,” temple member and event coordinator Chandani Patel said.

“When something like this happens, I think there’s a great outpouring of love and showing that we’re accepting of difference. I think that the hate came from of fear of something that they don’t understand, a fear of something that’s just not realistic,” volunteer Kathleen Poole said.

“I hope this shows that there are people who love more than there are people who hate,” Poole said. Photo by Sabrina Naser.

Individuals, school groups and religious groups from all over the city united in the rain for the temple clean-up.

Governor Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear were among those present.

“I was here since 10 o’clock, but there were already so many people. The turnout was absolutely beautiful, and it really restored my faith in humanity. There are so many different faiths here and they all just came to help,” volunteer Elizabeth Clay Darden, who came with a group from Guiding Light Islamic Center, said.

This was Darden’s (left) first time visiting a Hindu temple. “I learned what it looks like and their practices and it was beautiful, the temple itself inside was very colorful and beautiful, it was all just very lovely,” Darden said.

Poole and the Guiding Light Islamic Center brought snacks and drinks to share with temple members and volunteers.

“I hope [coming to clean up] shows that no matter what your background is, we’re all human, we’re all homosapiens, and we need to help each other when we need it,” Darden said. 

Volunteers wrote their names and words of hope on hearts that would later become a paper chain. Photo by Sabrina Naser.

The temple also asked volunteers to sign their name and messages of peace on paper hearts and a banner, both of which they would later hang up. 

Guests leave inspirational messages in various languages on a banner to be hung. One reads, “Love unites us all.” Photo by Sabrina Naser.