Pandit Damodar Sharma recently became the first ever Hindu chaplain to work for the Durham Regional Police (Ontario, Canada), or for any police department in Ontario.
He was sworn in on March 25 in front of the Mayor of the City of Pickering Dave Ryan, Deputy Chief of Police in the Durham Region Chuck Mercier, Police Inspector Jim Douglas, Judge David Stone, and a large number of people from the Devi Mandir congregation, where he's been a poojari (priest) for about eight years.
"I am very happy and excited that such an honour has been given to me," Sharma said in an interview on April 7.
"After all, we should not be confining ourselves within the four walls of the temple as that way members of the other communities wouldn't know who we are, what our religion is and our culture," Sharma said.
Police and Devi Mandir management have been interacting for quite sometime. "Now the time has come for the Devi Mandir and the Durham Police to work together on a higher level," said Deputy Chief Mercier at Sharma's swearing in ceremony.
Sharma said his duties as the police chaplain include conducting prayers if "let us suppose there's a sudden death of a Hindu. Police, in such tragic circumstances, can call me. They can also call me to perform religious duties in a hospital or if someone is in jail, in a detention centre, etc."
So far, according to him, Durham police had two Christian chaplains (one Catholic and one Anglican). This is the first time they have appointed a non-Christian chaplain.
Sharma is all excited and looking forward to perform his first religious duties when he's called by the police, use his knowledge of the Hindu religion, outside the temple as well.
Sharma has been living in Canada for the past 14 years.
Caption: Pandit Damodar Sharma (3rd from left).