In Minnesota, Big Moment for a Temple for Hindus

June 28, 2009

Author: Christina Capecchi

Source: The New York Times

Amid the soybean fields and silos on the outskirts of this town, a testament to the Hindu faith, a 43,000-square-foot temple, has risen.

The location, direction (facing east) and elevation (at the highest point in the vicinity) of the building have been chosen according to Hindu rules. Even the minute of the temple’s final consecration — 12:01 p.m. Sunday — was chosen because it was considered the most auspicious time.

The Hindu Society of Minnesota began constructing the temple, which came with a $9.5 million price tag, five years ago, and worshipers have been able to use it since 2006. But it was not considered complete until this weekend, when its 65-foot tower was consecrated.

When building began, the society’s database consisted of 1,000 families. Now the group claims 4,000 families, but it is also $6.5 million in debt.

“We decided to take on a very substantial risk, and we’re absolutely confident that we made the right decision,” said Varadarajan Chari, the former chairman of the temple’s finance committee, who along with his wife, Mythili Chari, the temple president, has been involved with the building of the temple from the beginning.

Mr. Chari said that he was encouraged by the “exponential” membership growth that had followed the construction of other North American Hindu temples and that he hoped temple membership would reach 7,000 families.

Ms. Chari said the need for the temple was urgent.