Orlando retirement complex caters to aging Hindu immigrants

Fifty years after they began arriving from India, the first generation of Indian-Americans is retiring and finding itself in a … Continued

Fifty years after they began arriving from India, the first generation of Indian-Americans is retiring and finding itself in a quandary.

Although many have the resources to live comfortably in retirement, some still depend on their children and suffer from social isolation as they navigate old age in an adopted country.

The problem is likely to grow as the influx of Indian immigrants rises; the country’s estimated 2.8 million Indian Americans are second only to Chinese Americans as the nation’s largest Asian population.

“Indians came here in the late’60s mostly as professionals and focused on building their careers and educating their children,” said Rajeshwar Prasad, president of the National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens. “They never really planned anything for their retirement.”

While numerous organizations have emerged to provide Indian-Americans with senior day care, in-home respite and adult education, such services are mostly temporary solutions.

Recognizing the problem, information technology professional Iggy Ignatius started a gated community in Orlando, Fla., developed specifically for Indian-American seniors. This community, called “ShantiNiketan,” or “abode of peace” in Sanskrit, has been his long-cherished dream.

The India-born Ignatius saw retirement housing communities mushrooming all over the country, especially those catering to specific health and lifestyle needs.

He also understood that Indian-Americans can feel out of place in many retirement communities. Their need for Indian food, Hindu prayer rooms or even companions who can speak their mother tongue could pose potential challenges.

So Ignatius bought land in Orlando, Fla., in 2008, and with the help of friends and veterans in the community, he started constructing Phase 1 of ShantiNiketan.

With 54 condos and a common clubhouse for dining and recreation, ShantiNiketan is a snug haven for seniors of Indian origin. Everything at the complex is Indian, starting with the food offered to the Hindu gods displayed in the prayer room.

“ShantiNiketan is the first retirement housing plan targeting a specific immigrant group in the country,” said Ignatius. “Orlando was the obvious choice because of its tropical climate and proximity to tourist attractions like Disney World, giving children and grandchildren incentive to visit their parents in ShantiNiketan.”

A two-bed, two-bath condo costs approximately $160,000, with a monthly expense of $800 per person including food, housekeeping and taxes.

Resident Ashwin Pandya, a retired doctor from New York, describes life in ShantiNiketan as “mini India.” Pandya enjoys the social life and conveniences of the community.

Ignatius and his team have designed a schedule to keep occupants engaged and entertained with meals, yoga, music classes and Bollywood movies in the clubhouse. The staff makes it a point to celebrate all Indian festivals.

“After my daily activities, I just sit under a tree and chat with my friends,” Pandya said. “That happens only in ShantiNiketan.”

The project has proven to be a financial success. All 54 condos in the first phase have sold; a second phase of 120 condos is under construction. Ignatius plans to have an assisted-living facility with round-the-clock nursing services within the premises by 2014.

“More and more people are entering the phase of life I am in now,” added Pandya, the retired doctor. “They have their children here, but their hearts are in India. ShantiNiketan is best suited for such people.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

More on:
Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

The End of Surveillance for New York Muslims — For Now

How American Muslims modeled the right response to systematic injustice.