From Vision to Reality
During late 1980’s and early 1990’s, community leaders and various groups in the area had several meetings to discuss the creation of a place to promote our religious and cultural heritage. In January 1992, a formal meeting was held to gather ideas for constructing “a place of our own that we all can be proud of “.
In April 1998, Mr. Nand Todi took the first step and formed a non-profit organization under the name Bharatiya Temple Inc. for the specific purpose of constructing a temple in this area. The Bharatiya Temple Inc (BTI) was granted federal tax-exempt status in January 1999. With word of BTI spreading, individuals with similar interests in strengthening the community through the creation of a cultural and religious center joined BTI and the core group finalized on a project, which included both temple and a cultural center.
Then came the hard work .…
On September 12, 1999, the first general body meeting for BTI was held to approve the project. OnOctober 5, Montgomery Township’s Zoning Board conducted the first hearing on the project and unanimously approved the application for BTI. The first meeting of the BTI Board of Trustees was conducted on October 11, 1999 and the trustees elected a seven-member Board of Directors and approved the initial set of BTI bylaws. During the first year after the Board of Trustees was formed, the financial momentum for the project gained urgency, taking the assets from $400K to $900K.
In November 1999, with the generous pledging of a 6.2-acre parcel of land at 1612 County Line Road to BTI by Todi family, the project entered its next phase of progress. The initial plans with Sri Laxmi-Narayan as the main deities of the temple also included Sri Ram parivar, Sri Ganesh, Sri Shiva parivar, Sri Radha-Krishna, Durga Mata, Sri Venkateshwara (Balaji) and Mahavir Swami.
Modest Beginnings …
Realizing the need for publicizing the project, in March 2000, the Board unanimously decided to renovate an existing farm house on the property to use it as a temporary place of worship. An attractive altar was created with pictures of all the popularly worshiped gods and goddesses. On June 18, 2000, a formal inaugural ceremony was performed with Vedic mantras ringing in the air. The inaugural function was attended by 700 people and the Bharatiya Temple had now been ritually sanctified. An initial program committee was formed which charted out Saturday and Sunday activities, through which more people came to know about the temple and the list of enthusiastic volunteers grew considerably.
Thereafter, weekend activities grew considerably in their diversity as well as in attendance. There were now regularly scheduled events like bhajans, Satyanarayana Puja, Suprabhatam and Vishnu Sahastranam chanting, Amritvani and pravachans, in addition to the observance of major festivals like Shivaratri, Janmashtami, Samvatsari-Pratikraman, Ram Navami, Deepavali etc. There were also unanticipated gatherings such as observances held for the tragic event of September 11, 2001.
Sense of urgency for a larger temple …
The small space could hardly accommodate the growing numbers of devotees at each program. Clearly, the need for a large, multi-deity temple was urgent. This was evident in the quick succession of fundraisers held by and for BTI. On March 25, 2000, a fundraiser was held at the Church of St. Sophia in Jeffersonville. On March 25, 2001, a project presentation/fundraiser was held where the architectural plans of BTI were presented for the first time. Another fundraising dinner followed at the Highpoint Club. On that evening, BTI’s newly appointed architect, Mr. Shashi Patel, who has provided architectural work for over 50 temples across the U.S. and Canada, presented the plans to the audience of nearly 300 people.
Temple Construction Begins …..
The construction committee worked assiduously in consultation with the architect to fine-tune the size and scope of BTI. Bid packages for building construction and site development work were mailed to contractors on April 6, 2002. On April 22, 2002, once again by unanimous consent of the Board of Supervisors of Montgomery Township, plans for BTI site development received final approval. Construction started in July of 2002, with the first phase completed by the end of September 2004.
Four years of activities and celebrations at the temple site, preceded by the efforts of many individuals to start a project such as this over the past decade, now culminated in a remarkable grand opening ceremony during the weekend of October 22-24, 2004. There was an overwhelming response from the general public in the tri-state area and approximately 3500 people visited the temple and the cultural center during its inaugural function in three days of celebrations. The special guest of the ceremonies, Swami Dayananda Ji Saraswati graced the occasion with his discourse on Indian temples and culture. In addition, County and Township officials also attended this auspicious ceremony. The celebrations featured elaborate Hindu and Jain rituals conducted by priests, religious discourse by special guests, Raas-Garba, cultural programs by the Indian community represented by different communities in the area followed by Maha Prasad.
Thereafter on October 29th, 2006, the Bharatiya Temple and Cultural Center Board of Directors and Board of Trustees unanimously approved the beautiful conceptual picture (shown below) of Bharatiya Temple. The Indianization effects were designed and developed in consultation with Padmasri Muthia Stapathi from Chennai, India.
The completion of the Indianization was to happen in two phases. Phase I would include installation of life size marble moorties and the decoration of all altars inside the temple with Indian carvings and Phase II would include a beautiful Rajgopuram at the main entrance, one large Shikhar for Sri Laxmi Narayan, Sri Radha Krishna and Sri Ram Parivar and six separate Shikhars for Sri Venkateswara, Sri Mahavirswami, Ma Durga, Sri Siva Parvati, Sri Ganesha and Sri Hanuman. Phase II would also include Indianization of all windows, doors and all outside wall covering.
Pran Prathistha to infuse spiritual life into the temple …
On May/June of 2009 the temple celebrated the Pran Prathistha Mahotsav of the Hindu Moortis from May 21th-25th and the Prathistha of the Jain Moorties between June 5th-8th, 2009. Once again there was a grand celebration with religious and cultural programs and the Mahotsav brought to life the beautiful new Moortis during this once in a life time auspicious occasion. Each year after that the community continued to celebrate the Pran Prathistha anniversary during the same time and the temple continued to grow.
Within a short time after the Pran Prathistha, the BOD and the trustees approved the start of Phase II which was to build the Shikars of the temple. Various fundraisers continued and the planning started. Shikhar’s and window claddings etc were ordered from India and all material started to arrive in 2014.
And finally the Kumbhabhishekam Ceremonies …
In 2016 the dream finally came true and the Phase II project came to an end with the completion of glistening shikhars on the roof and an imposing Rajagopuram in the front of the temple, and all of it culminating in a grand Kumbabhishekam celebration in June of 2016. Over a 7-day period, 18 priests including 14 priests invited from various temples across the US performed religious rituals according to Hindu and Jain scriptures to sanctify the temple and to bless the attending devotees.
The BTI/BCC community is now proud to be part of an authentic Indian temple where Hindus and Jains can partake in various religious, spiritual and cultural activities, or can simply come to the temple to sit and meditate peacefully.
Looking to the Future …
Over the years, devotees have provided the temple management with valuable suggestions for future growth of the temple. Of these suggestions, two ranked high in their level of importance. These include: 1) building of a new cafeteria for devotees and 2) new classrooms for children attending Bharatiya Vidyalaya. The temple management agrees with these suggestions and is now looking for ways to collect funds to bring these ideas to fruition. With the support of our temple devotees, there is every reason to believe that these projects will also be realized in the very near future.
360° night view of the Temple
Glimpse of Kumbhabhishek