Belfast Indian Community Centre
About Indian Community Centre
This building is actually part of the whole complex of the Carlisle Methodist Memorial Church which is next door. It was completed in 1875 and named after Lord Carlisle, Viceroy of Ireland and Belfast builder James Carlisle who built this group of buildings in honour of his deceased son.
The building displays a Gothic Revival style designed by WH Lynn. The church next door has been closed for many years but this particular section has for some years been a meeting place for the Indian Community in Belfast.
The centre is a voluntary organization based in the Carlisle Methodist Memorial Church Hall so it’s not actually connected with the church itself. Their main aim is the promotion and greater understanding of Indian Culture and Traditions in Ireland. For this reason then the ex-church hall is an information point for the Indian Community.
Upstairs, past beautifully hand carved banisters and elongated stain glass windows is this large room which echoes the typical characteristics of a community hall. The stage of course is often put to use for events and theatrical performances.
Indians first arrived in Belfast around the 1920s. This Indian Community Centre was officially established in 1981 although the previous year it was opened by His Excellency IP Singh – the High Commissioner of India on the 24th August 1980.
After some restoration work it was again officially reopened by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alban Maginniss, on Sunday 25th January 1998.
Back downstairs again is this main room probably where the Methodist Church would have held their mass services in the past. It’s now the community reception area and also host to smaller events and get-togethers.
The most important area of the building is here – the Indian temple. In typical Indian fashion the temple is being prepared for religious services with an abundance of rich colours and ecstatic displays that must be seen to be believed. Anyone is welcome here and even into the temple as long as your shoes are left at the door before entering.
The centre which is run by a staff of three is also proud to point out that they seek to build upon relationships with the wider community and has long been a hub for arts and cultural activities as well as being open for Senior Citizens, health seminars, youth and women’s groups. Lastly, and quite appropriately for this small Indian community they try to deal with issues surrounding racial discrimination.