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New England Hindu Temple Expansion Plans

Venkat Shrinivas and Giri Bharathan

New England Hindu Temple Expansion Plans

It has been thirty two years since the formation of New England Hindu Temple Inc. (NEHTI) in 1978 and the conception of the idea to build a grand temple to Goddess Sri Lakshmi. We have come a long way since the inaugural function which was conducted with Mahalakshmi Pooja and Diwali celebrations on October 28, 1978 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Melrose, Massachusetts, and the subsequent weekly congregations at the Needham Village Club. In 1981 land was purchased at 117, Waverly Street in Ashland and the construction of the temple happened gradually thereafter over several years, in several phases, culminating with the Rajagopuram. New additions such as the coat room and the Board room were completed later.

The Hindu community in the New England area and primarily in the Boston area has grown multi-fold since the early ‘90s. The religious offerings have also increased with strict adherence to the Agama Shastras. Nitya poojas, weekly special Abhishekams, celebration of various important festivals for the various deities make our temple a very active religious institution comparable to other major temples here in the U.S. and in India. In addition to the religious activities, NEHTI also emphasizes the importance of education and culture to ensure that Hindu culture, knowledge and traditions get passed on to the youth here.

Sanskrit classes have been happening at the temple since Spring 2000. Bala Vidya Mandir (BVM) classes for children started in 2007. The student interest has been growing. Various cultural activities like Nrityanjali, Trimurthi Day, Hindusthani Day attract the youth in large numbers to the temple. Over the last few years, concerts by professional artists, local teachers and students have become a main stay during Navarathri, and other festival times like Brahmotsavam, Ani Thirumanjanam, Shivarathri, Shloka classes, culture/language classes and day camps for children have also been started over the last few years.

With the growth of the devotee community and their growing religious, cultural and educational needs, we have outgrown our existing infrastructural facilities. We need extra space for educational, cultural, and religious activities. So, it is high time that we create new class rooms, kitchens, function halls for temple programs and private religious functions. The NEHTI board has been planning for these new expansions over the last few years and has decided to execute the expansion in two phases.

The first phase consists of a core facilities building (aka Annex building) consisting of two levels to the south of the temple, with a connector to the main Temple building. This building would have a large lobby in the upper level to connect to the existing Mahamandapam, an elevator and a stair case, restrooms with showers, classrooms with an ability to convert them into larger hall for moderate size gatherings, with a total area of around 6600 sq.ft. In the lower level, there would be a new kitchen with an attached pantry, large dining area, rest rooms and coat rooms with a total area of around 6400 sq.ft. A 20’ extension in front of the Rajagopuram along the length of the building to provide room for new front office, temple shop, and shoe and coat area. This would be in the form of an all season glass enclosure measuring around 2000 sq.ft. Also, NEHTI has successfully acquired recently an adjacent piece of land in Framingham to hookup to the town sewer system, pending the final approval from the Town of Framingham.

In the second phase, the existing Praakaarams on either side of the Mahamandapam would be extended in the upper level and also new functions halls would be built on both levels behind the existing sanctums to add another 15,000 square feet of usable space.

NEHTI board has currently embarked on the construction of the approved Phase-I plans (estimated to cost around $2M) by utilizing some of the saved funds and also by raising new funds. All members and devotees are requested to support NEHTI by donating generously and also encouraging others to do the same.

The NEHTI Board has awarded the contract to prepare the construction documents to Kalkunte Engineering Corporation of Stoughton, MA and is expecting the actual construction activity to commence in the next few months. As part of this process, RFPs for various construction related activities would be posted at the Temple construction page: http://www.srilakshmi.org/Contents/frmTempleConstruction.aspx. All interested vendors are requested to periodically check the Temple construction page for details on the currently open RFPs.

Please support Sri Lakshmi Temple Expansion Project with your generous donations. 

May the blessings of Sri Lakshmi and Sri Venkateswara be always with you and your family.

(Venkat Shrinivas is Chairman, NEHTI Board of Trustees and Giri Bharathan is Chairman, Temple Construction Committee. )

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