Connect to share and comment

The Mormons in India

Does Joseph Smith translate to Hindi?

Anuradha Yadav, 24, a young Church leader completed her mission work last year. (Sonya Fatah/GlobalPost)

NEW DELHI — Their voices rang out, echoing in the nearby passageway. “Count your many blessings,” they sang. “Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God hath done.” And so, the women, some 25 of them, members of the Sisters Committee at one of the six churches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in New Delhi, closed their Sunday post-service meeting.

“Let us all work together so we can have a temple here,” urged the chair of the meeting, eliciting head nods and verbal assents all round. 

There are almost 7,500 Mormons in India, according to the LDS Church, one of the most organized religious bodies in the world. Like all religious groups keen on increasing their numbers, the church is now looking eastward, toward India to share Joseph Smith’s message.

On numbers alone, conversion in India hasn’t happened as quickly as in Latin America, but that isn’t holding back the missionary fervor of those who have already embraced the church’s teachings. Ever since elders from the Quorum of the Twelve, while visiting Bangalore in 1992, announced a "prophecy" that New Delhi would have a temple, serious efforts are underway to get there.

Anuradha Yadav, 24, is one new Mormon who is dedicated to seeing a temple in New Delhi. Born into a traditional Hindu family of the Yadav caste, Anuradha recalls questioning her faith early on, when she was 14 years old.

“I kept asking questions, and I started visiting churches. In all I visited 30 churches.” One year of church shopping later, Anuradha was even more confused. Then in 2006 she bumped into two young elders on the street who shared the Book of Mormon with her.

She read it cover to cover and felt renewed. “I knelt down and prayed. That was such a wonderful moment. I felt as if somebody had just made me calm," she said, tearing up at the memory.

Two of the women in the front row at the Sister’s Committee meeting were from Anuradha’s family: her mother, Saraswati, and her sister-in-law, Hema. Dressed traditionally in a blue sari, her hair tied up in a neat bun with a bindi on her forehead, Saraswati came to the church after she saw a miraculous change in her daughter.

“The church changed Anuradha and taught her so much patience and kindness. I was attracted to Christianity myself as a child because I had a Christian friend and I always wanted to go to church with her but my father never let me.”

Most of the people gathered here were either recent converts or those interested in joining the church. Of the five elders in the room, two were young Americans on the 18-month mission that is part of every young Mormon’s coming of age in the church.