|ORLANDO mNDir NEARING COMPLETION TO OPEN IN JUNE 2005 AFTER 3 YEARS........|
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on February 19, 2005
HINDU SOCIETY OF CENTRAL
Orlando Temple Nears Completion
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, February 17, 2005:
Along a stretch of Lake Drive, just outside the town of
Casselberry, less than thirty minutes from the Orlando metro, lies a massive
building with its ornate towers reaching towards the heavens in its final
stages of construction. While the structure's exterior conveys a sense of
strength and thoughtfulness, the interior exhibits a feeling of beauty and
serenity. It is a Hindu temple with such unique features that its sponsors
are hopeful that it will attract Hindus from around the world to this
Seminole County spot.
Supervising the construction is Mr. Muthiah Sthapathi, who came from India
to choose the site and floor plan for the temple on the ten acres of land
owned by the Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF). Sthapathi is the
seventh generation of a family of temple builders. This is the 28th temple
he has worked on in America. The Casselberry temple is a 13,000 square foot
solid concrete core structure, designed by Mr. Kishore Pathare and Mr.
Subhash Nadkarni of Archiform and completed by general contractor Lamm & Co.
The ornamentation work was started in November, 2003. Inside are five
shrines dedicated to different Hindu Deities selected for the temple. These
shrines will house large icons of the Deities of Sree Ganesh, Sree Durga Ma,
Sree Balaji, Sree Radha Krishna, Sree Rama Parivar, Navagraha and Siva
Linga, all of which were created in India.
A team of 22 craftsmen from India will take approximately two years to
construct this temple at a cost of 2.5 million dollars for the HSCF. Once
completed, it will resemble a traditional temple in India. Far from home,
these Indian craftsmen are united in building a place of worship for Hindus
from all over the world. Like countless generations of Indian artisans
before him, Nagaratan Nagaratinam, spends his days making delicate,
intricate sculptures of Hindu deities such as elephant-headed Lord Ganesh.
Crews such as this one from India have built similar temples in Tampa,
Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Memphis, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and Great
Britain. "We are making history," Ramachandran Gowrishankar, 35, one of the
supervisors, says of his men's work throughout the Hindu Diaspora. "We are
doing God's work."
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In ancient times, artisans first made skeletons of the figures
from bamboo. Then they created the bodies by coating small pieces of brick with
limestone mortar, carving the fine details with small tools also made from
bamboo. Sometimes plaster was applied and the figures were painted. Today,
Nagaratinam explains, copper rods and wire are used for the skeletons, and steel
scalpels are used for sculpting. He uses illustrations from Indian temples as
models for the figures.
Although the expense of importing a crew of 22 workers for two years is
considerable, it is a price many members of the Casselberry society are
willing to pay. "These are the people who make the building an authentic
Indian temple, a real Hindu temple," says Dev Sharma, chairman of
engineering committee, "This is the way they build them back home." These
artisans are called silpis in India. The men are all between the ages of 30
and 40, and all but one is married. They reside in the trailers at the site,
rotating cooking chores. Occasionally, members of the congregation invite
them to their homes for meals. At night they watch Indian television and
rent movies. Calling cards and cell phones keep them in close touch with
family and friends. "Most people are appreciative of our work," Nagaratinam,
41, says through a translator. Members of the local temple agree. "They are
building God's places", says Mr. Gopal Iyengar, a member oh the board of
trustees, "that is the satisfaction. How many people in the world get that
chance?" Like most of his crew, Gowrishankar, comes from Chennai, Tamil
Nadu's sprawling capital city. The state's tradition of building temples
emerged in the second half of the 4th century. With their towering spires,
the temples are considered by some anthropologists to be the "fulcrum of
society," in southern India.
In India, more than a 100 craftsmen would have spent about 5 years to
construct a similar temple, carving the ornate figures from stone. In order
to keep the budget reasonable, the figures for the Casselberry temple are
being made from concrete. Although there is not a big difference in
appearance, there is a substantial cost reduction, says Dr. Aravind Pillai,
a Sanford physician who is the chairman of the Hindu Society of Central
Florida. The group has raised one million dollars so far towards the cost of
the temple. According to Mr. Hash Mistry, a senior board member, what makes
the temple so unique is its blend of northern and southern Indian
architecture. Most temples represent only one type of architecture. "The
deities of the temple's five shrines represent a balanced mix from both the
northern and southern parts of India," Pillai stated. It is important to
have a temple that meets the needs of all Hindus in the area he added.
This temple has been specifically designed to last for hundreds of years.
The poured concrete walls are built to withstand winds of up to 150-200 mph.
"This is a monumental structure," said Anil Despande, a society trustee and
Orlando builder. "It is a 'class A' institutional type building," he added.
This temple has all the modern conveniences of today, while keeping very
traditional roots. For example, a temple in India would be open to air,
without air conditioning. Temples also do not typically have restrooms,
which is a must here to meet the county's zoning requirements. To accomplish
this, two extra rooms were built on opposite sides of the temple's entrance.
One structure houses rest rooms and the other is an area for private worship
The 2000 census shows more than 4,500 families of Indian origin are residing
in Central Florida's seven counties. The HCSF has more than 2,000 families
on its mailing list, 850 living within 15 miles of the temple's zip code.
Pillai also added that the temple is, "mainly for our children. We want to
show them what Hinduism is all about. Here they will experience Indian
culture, traditions and customs."
Completion of the temple will fulfill a life-long dream of many of the
society members. Since 1992, the Hindus living in this area have worshiped
at temporary shrines in a community hall next to the new temple. Once the
temple opens, work will start on the renovation of the hall. The society
plans to use it to meet other needs, such as day care activities, class
rooms for music, dance, Hindu philosophy, and a kitchen to provide meals.
Pillai predicts the new temple will have a dramatic impact on Central
Florida's Hindu community. In the past, he says, many have been reluctant to
attend services at the nondescript facility that houses the old center. That
will change, he says, when the new temple opens in June of 2005. According
to Pillai, the members of the Casselberry congregation believe in one
faceless, formless God, a "unitary consciousness"- and that the faith's
deities represent different aspects of the divine personality. This temple
will impart spiritual and social wisdom to the seekers.
Work on this temple is expected to continue for most of this year, but it
should be substantially finished in time for a gala celebration in June,
according to Pillai. Five days of highly spiritual rites, services ( pujas)
and rituals will culminate on June 19, between 11 am and noon, when
installation of the deities and Kumbhabhishekam (bathing deity using
consecrated water) will take place. A huge tent adjacent to the northern
gopuram (tower) of the new temple will lodge the yagna sala (special area
for worship), where seven homa-kundams (fire pyres to offer to God) will be
built to perform rites. More than 20 priests and many Vedic scholars will
participate in this ritual. The program will start in the early morning of
the 15th with Maha Ganapathy Homam (service to Lord Ganesh) and finish by
Kalyana utsav (concluding ceremony for world peace and enlightenment) on the
evening of the19th. Free meals will be supplied and plenty of cultural
events will take place throughout the five days.
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|#1 Posted by tarun prajapati on 8/24/2007|
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