| From Seven Hills to the Great Lakes - The Celestial Door opens! |
Sri Venkateshwara Temple and Cultural Center opens in Novi - Interviewed and Written by Anu Gopalakrishnan
| The Michigan Indian community has grown in sheer numbers and has become a network of highly enterprising individuals who gather around culturally and socially to unwind. Where exactly does this happen? Do we have a place to connect, meet-up and have a good time? We have spiritual places where people constantly meet to seek divine intervention and at the same time connect with known families and friends. Sadly but truly, we lack a cultural center that can become a symbolic status to our immigrant existence. Thanks to the Detroit Telugu Association, Michigan can now boast of having “the only granite temple in the country of North America”. A huge effort, an ambitious project will see its reality on Tuesday, May 28th. Though the land has been donated by DTA, the goal and objective of the temple and the magnificent cultural center stretches beyond any religious or cultural ethnicity. Miindia.com brings an exclusive account about this state of the art architecture that will prove to be a confluence of the religious and cultural spirit of the east with the freedom and innovative aspect of the west. |
| Dr. Saikumar Lingam, M.D., President, Sri Venkateswara Temple and Cultural Center shares the SV temple and the cultural center details with miindia.com... |
What was your goal behind constructing the SV Temple since we already have other temples in Michigan?
There are approximately 50,000 people of Indian origin living in Southeastern Michigan. The Bharatiya temple in Troy and Hindu temple in Canton were among the first to serve religious and spiritual needs of the local Hindu community. With the influx of IT professionals in the 90’s, Metro Detroit witnessed one of the largest inflows of Indian immigrants from the Southern states of India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala). The strong desire among this generation of settlers with religious inclination created the need for a temple with a distinct South Indian architecture. Lord Venkateswara is the presiding deity in Tirupati, India and considered to be Kaliyuga (the age of vice) Daivam (god).
The need for a cultural center was identified in the 80,s by the former executives of the Detroit Telugu Association. A parcel of 10 acre land was purchased by DTA in year 2000 with funds raised by various DTA building committees. In 2007 the focus broadened to include a South Indian Temple along with a cultural center to service the needs of the Indian community in the region. A new nonprofit corporation “Sri Venkateswara Temple and Cultural center” was formed in 2007. Detroit Telugu Association transferred 10 acres of land and the building fund to the newly formed organization. The generosity of the DTA and their leaders formed the basis for the birth of “Sri Venkateswara Temple and Cultural Center”
What is unique about the temple?
We are blessed to have a nice location with many natural features close to the highway system. Wetlands, a small stream making its way through the site, old beautiful trees, a spot where a small meteor struck the site visited by deers etc. This is an all granite temple, the first in North America. All the granite used for the Garbagudi (shrine) and gopurams (tower) was carved by hand in Kanchipuram, India and constructed here layer by layer by six silpis (sculptors) that came from India. All the idols came from TTD -Tirupati, India. The temple offers devotees an opportunity to get the satisfaction that we all look for in a daily use temple. The temple is built on a modern outlook and accomodates broad thinking. While our practices are in keeping with the norms of TTD and Pittsburgh temple, we remain focused in our devotion to Lord Venkateswara. Some of the deities will be attended to with rigor. The deities include: Presiding deity in the form of Lord Sri Venkateswara accompanied by goddess Sri Devi, goddess Bhoo devi and Garuda (Eagle- Lord Vishnu's vehicle). We also have Sri Anjaneya and Vinayaka temples. We have a separate area for our homams (fire rituals).
A lot has been spoken in social groups, could you provide more details on the construction?
The construction started in 2009. Due to the unique challenges in constructing an authentic South Indian temple with modern safety features with fire alarms and sprinkler systems, the construction took longer time than anticipated. But finally the temple construction is nearing its completion and the temple will be inaugrated for the devotees on June 2nd , with 6 days of celebrations planned from May 28th to June 2nd with Pranaprathista (ceremony where the deity is infused) scheduled for 9.45 a.m. on Sunday June 2nd. Going by my knowledge, this is the first all granite temple in North America with the purified stone coming from india. Granite stone is used extensively for flooring and walls which will make it easy to maintain and lasts for a long duration.
How do you plan on maintaining the temple premises, especially since it is huge?
Firstly, we recruit qualified priests who undergo a rigorous interview process. An exceptionally devoted group who make our abhishekam services an experience for families to immerse themselves into. We will also have a well maintained kitchen with a professional south Indian cook for prasadams. Note that Maha prasadam is cooked in a separate kitchen for priests.
How do you tackle reaching out to an eclectic blend of regions within the Michigan Indian population?
People gravitate to whatever experience gives them the most satisfaction. We hope to provide them with an authentic South Indian experience. We are also focused on providing services for our youth. A strong effort is underway to conduct ourselves in the English language. However, this is a recognized growth area that is our next target.
How do you foresee helping the community with service toward god as the focus?
Attention to detail and a singular focus on our devotion to god. Such an environment will provide the right basis for growing our families and helping set the devotional basis bringing balance to life which is so missing in today's world.
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