Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 11 October 2009.Phone: 770-381-3662
Activities and ScheduleSunday 10:30 a.m. -12:05 p.m. Vedic havan (sponsored by different families weekly) followed by lunch
HistoryAccording to Dr. Chandra, a temple board member and long time leader of the community, there is too much distortion about the basic religious precepts of the Hindu religion. Most Hindus don't know what they are dealing with. In order to propagate the basic principles of Hinduism he and about four others started the Vedic temple in 1986. The group would conduct Vedic worship twice a month at people's houses. As the community grew they began gathering money and in 1988 bought the property in Lilburn on which the temple now stands an applied for rezoning so it could be used for religious purposes. The property had originally been a private residence. About 300-400 people came against them at a Gwinnett county meeting and the rezoning was originally rejected. Dr. Chandora explained that those who had opposed the temple in the Gwinnett community were afraid of who the Vedic society members were and they would not listen to the members' explanations of what they did. He felt that the surrounding community did not want them in the neighborhood because they were too exotic.
Because of this rezoning problem the community did not use the property for a while and participants continued meeting at people's houses.
Soon after this a Jewish temple got zoning approval in Snellville (also in Gwinnett County). The Vedic temple had met the same criteria as the synagogue so it was obvious that there had been discrimination because the community had not understood the principles of the Vedic society. During the rezoning hearing for the synagogue members of the Vedic society publicly supported the Jewish community. The media picked this up and through investigations they reported that other fringe groups had also been rejected. In the aftermath of these media reports Gwinnett County commissioners indirectly told the Vedic society to apply for rezoning again. They did and the county approved the rezoning. They began renovating the property as soon as the rezoning was approved.
Throughout this time people kept coming to the society to join. These days usually 50-60 people come for major festivals.
Dr. Bista (Ph.D. in Sanskrit) was a volunteer priest previously but he did not attend a conference in 1996 on ancient India so many trustees did not want him to be the official priest. He is no longer affiliated with the temple.
The temple sponsored three priests from India: Bhupendra Tripathi (1994), Vinod Sharma (1995), and Khagendranath Giri (1996). They all come every Sunday and live, in part, off of whatever donations come in weekly as well as food that various members bring. Because the temple members want the priests to understand American culture they ask them to work other jobs in American society. This way the priests will be able to relate to the members of the Vedic society who mostly live and work among Americans. Dr. Chandora explains this is important so the temple is not isolated.
The society wanted to establish a school and camps for children so they needed all of the priests to teach the children various aspects of their religion and culture. The priests also conduct the weekly angihotra. The society is hoping to start a library at the site and plans to open the temple for at least one hour on weeknights. The temple sponsors musical programs and/or religious programs for festivals on some evenings including Divali, Holi, and Dashara. More people come for these programs than the usual group that attends the Sunday havan. For most Indian immigrants this Vedic worship is new although some of them did worship in this way before they came to the United States.
DemographicsThe temple has about fifty members. Most are Indians including approximately 60% North Indians (from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan), 20% West (from Gujurat, Bombay, and Maharashtra), 15% South Indian, and 5% East Indian (from Bengal). There are a few Caucasian members as well. Most of the worship is conducted in Sanskrit with some Hindi. Members speak Hindi (as well as other Indian languages) and English in conversation with each other. The center includes many families and thus all age groups are represented.
DescriptionThe temple's property consists of about four acres of land on which two buildings stood when the society originally bought the property: a house and a storage shed.
Once the property was rezoned the society began renovating the shed and the house. Regulations for religious structures required the society to install a handicapped ramp, which now wraps around the white brick one-story house from the front to a door on its right side. They also had to pave a certain portion of the property in front of the house for parking and widen the existing bathroom inside the house to accommodate a wheelchair. The society also remodeled the garage on the left side of the house into a room that includes space for people to leave their shoes. The building also includes a kitchen, a large open space that had been a dining room/living room, and offices. Once these renovations had been made the society began worshiping in the former house. They also converted the small storage shed behind the house and to its left into a classroom, putting in new flooring and carpet.
In 1995 the society began construction on a new building where they could conduct the fire sacrifice. This was finished in 1997. The hall consists of red brick on the outside and is about twenty feet high in the center. The main doors in front open into an anteroom with shelves for shoes, books and pamphlets for sale, and a white board with the names and numbers of recent and upcoming families who sponsor the weekly havan. This room opens into the main hall, which is an open space. The original house is now used for heating, serving, and eating lunch after the ceremony on Sundays. The main hall used for havan (yajna or fire sacrifice). The former shed is used for some meetings and classes. The society had some trouble with thieves and vandals so they installed a locked gate along the road to deter such activity.
Center ActivitiesEvery Sunday from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. the group hosts a havan, bhajans, speaker (sometimes), arti, and a vegetarian lunch.
About once a month they invite a "divine soul" (usually from India) to deliver a teaching about the values of life and how to become more righteous.
Festivals are Divali, Holi, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Ramnavami (celebrates Ram's birth), Dashara. They add special pujas to the regular havan according to the festival.
Every Sunday about 10 children learn Hindi, yoga, and cultural education in a class during the time their parents participate in the havan.
The temple society prints a newsletter (Vedic Vani) every quarter.
OtherThe members want to welcome everybody to attend who wants to learn about Indian culture, heritage, and Vedic philosophy, which emphasizes humbleness and humility. Swami Dayanand is a major figure for them as he was the first person to propagate Vedic philosophy. The president of the temple said the Vedic philosophy was the oldest philosophy in the world. They are planning for a regular Dayananda Atlanta Vedic School.
Researcher: Jennifer B. Saunders, May 29, 1999.