Although the trend is not yet as developed as it has become in the US or UK, Hindu temples in Germany tend increasingly to play a role beyond providing rituals, especially in educating Hindu children born in the West and conveying to them Hindu traditions, writes German scholar Carina Back (Hanover University) in her book, Hindu-Tempel in Deutschland (in German, TectumVerlag, 24.90).
While Indians in Germany have rarely attempted to open temples, Tamils who fled the conflict in Sri Lanka have been eager to establish their own places of worship, as have members of the (smaller) Hindu community from Afghanistan. Focusing on Tamil Hindu temples, Back remarks that, despite financial and other constraints, to a large extent they follow traditional Hindu teachings regarding the arrangement of temples.
Opening places of worship has gone along with the creation of institutional structures necessary for organizing and maintaining the temples. Hindu traditions are kept as much as possible, but it is usually not possible to hold the full daily schedule of religious services. Out of two dozen Tamil temples in Germany (the first one established in 1988), only one is purpose built (in Hamm, opened in 2002), while another one is under construction in Berlin; all the others have been installed in converted factories or warehouses, in flats or in basements.
Consequently, many of them are still seen as temporary places, to be enlarged or replaced by new temples in the future. The author expects that future temples will align more closely with the traditional south Indian models; for the time being, financial considerations or zoning regulations have been preeminent in decisions such as the orientation of the temples and the choice of locations.