Hindu resident files religious discrimination lawsuit against Philadelphia condo association

A Hindu symbol is at the heart of a Fair Housing lawsuit, continuing the latest trend of religious rights lawsuits involving HOAs and condominium associations

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Akhil Tripathi explains to local and national news media that religious discrimination is happening at his 42-story luxury condo tower, located in one of the largest cities in the U.S.

The latest federal Fair Housing lawsuit has been filed by Attorney Kevin Toth, on behalf of Tripathi, against Murano Condo Association in downtown Philadelphia.

The basis for the lawsuit is a Hindu religious symbol, a toran, that has been hanging above the condo resident’s door for nearly a decade. A toran is a decorative valance traditionally hung over the entry to one’s home.

Tripathi’s says his beaded toran has been blessed by a Hindu priest, and is a symbol of the goddess Lakshmi, welcoming all who enter his home.

He likens his toran door valance to a Jewish Mezuzah, a small scroll of inscribed paper, often encased in a decorative cover, and fastened to the door frame of the home, as a sign of religious faith and heritage.

For the nine years Tripathi has resided at The Murano, a gleaming glass tower in the heart of the city, where units sell between $300-$900K, there were no objections to the toran he hung above the door to his condo.

But, according to several reports, that changed in February, when some new members on the condo board decided that small door decorations fastened to the door frame would be allowed, but all others would have to be removed. While a Mezuzah meets the rule’s size limitations, a toran does not.

That would appear to be selective enforcement and a discriminatory rule, with the effect of favoring one religion (Judaism) over another (Hinduism).

This most recent Fair Housing lawsuit comes on the heels of others involving association-governed and covenant-controlled communities:

Donna Dunbar vs. Cambridge House, a Port Charlotte, FL condominium association, for banning bible study and playing religious music in the association’s common meeting rooms.

Complaints filed against developers of Woodbury Junction in New York State, alleging that homes sales are targeted solely to Hasidic Jews.

Similar HUD complaints filed against developers of River Run, a Joppatowne, Maryland planned community, for allegedly selling only to homebuyers who are members of a specific Muslim sect.

A lawsuit against Bay View Association in Michigan, a summer home community whose board has recently decided to limit ownership of homes to Christians who are active members of their church.

I find it ironic that the industry promotes a “sense of community” as a benefit of shared living arrangements in condos, housing cooperatives, and planned communities.

The recent trend in religious discrimination, and fair housing lawsuits that have followed, paint a very different picture of life in association-governed common interest communities.

It seems that when housing policy makers plan communities with higher density, and an obsession with property value, it divides residents rather than uniting them.

Three reference articles, each containing different details about Tripathi and the nature of his complaint. 

Hindu Symbol Prompts Discrimination Lawsuit Against Philadelphia Condo Association

The beaded Hindu decoration hanging over Akhil Tripathi’s door has been there since 2009. It was a present from his daughter and was blessed by a Hindu priest before the former University of Pennsylvania engineering professor placed it above the entrance to his Center City condo.

That same decoration, called a toran, is now at the center of a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by Tripathi against the Murano Condominium Association, which asked him several times to remove it.

“It’s a symbol of the goddess Lakshmi that says this house is blessed,” Tripathi said, adding that it is bad luck to move it. “This symbol is not intrusive to anybody else.”

Read more (Video):


(Pixabay.com free image)

By David Spunt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia man has filed a lawsuit against his condo association, alleging religious discrimination.

“I just think it’s wrong and unfair,” said Akhil Tripathi.

A small display in the hallway of the Murano building in Philadelphia is causing quite a large controversy.

Read more (video):


(Pixabay.com free image)

Lawsuit: Religious symbol unwelcome at luxury Philly condo

by Mensah M. Dean, Staff Writer @mensahdean| deanm@phillynews.comA Hindu resident of the Murano at 2101 Market St. has filed a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination by the condo association at the luxury 43-story building of gleaming glass and spectacular views, where homeowners pay more than $1,000 a month in fees.

At the heart of the conflict between Akhilesh Tripathi and the Murano Condominium Association is a symbol known as a toran, which has hung for almost a decade across the top of his front door, attached to either side of the door frame. Tripathi, born in India, lives in a 23rd-floor condo adorned with a shrine and decorated with religious symbols and artwork.

A toran is a Hindu and Buddhist symbol meant to welcome guests into a home. It is believed to be pleasing and attractive to the Hindu goddess of wealth, said Tripathi, 64, speaking as classical Hindu music played softly in his condo.

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