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August 11, 1999
Sri Krishna Finds an Home In Idaho
Arthur J Pais
For 200 Hindu families in Boise, Idaho, and a radius of 350 miles, the opening of the Krishna temple on August 22 is a historic event. The temple rose from an abandoned Christian church building. While there are many Hindu temples on the east and west coasts, in states such as Idaho or Utah, they are a rare phenomenon.
"Though the temple is primarily meant for the Indian community, it is also open to Americans who are drawn to Sri Krishna," says Anantapura Gupta (karmic name, Arun Gupta), president of the temple. Mayor Brent Coles will inaugurate the temple at 6 pm and the celebrations will go on for four hours.
Gupta, a products manager with Hewlett Packard, is among dozens of Indian Americans who are involved in the Hare Krishna movement. He says the Indian Americans contributed nearly $ 55,000 of the $ 250,000 needed for the purchase of the land and construction of the temple. The rest of the money came from donations from Hare Krishnas and fund-raising events.
The temple also has a room for Sunday school. Its teak altar and wooden doors have been imported from India. Indian architects and Hare Krishna volunteers helped in the construction of the temple.
"The cost would have soared but for the volunteer help," Gupta says. Among those who gifted their time and skills are Sandip Guha, a structural engineer, and Ravi Iyer, who helped setting up and wiring the temple's sound system.
The architect, Bruce Poe, has spent many more hours than were required, because he felt drawn to the cause. "I am so thankful I had the opportunity to design this temple," he told reporters.
Work on the temple began about a year after the rezoning committee of the city approved the plan. The council had to be convinced that there will not be a large scale disruption of life during festivals. Getting the permission from the zoning councils in several other cities has proved difficult, and in some cases impossible, for the construction of houses of worship by Hindu and Muslim immigrants.
Members of many zoning councils have said no racism was involved in their rejection of permits to build temples and mosques, and that they were only concerned about the disturbance to the surrounding residential areas. But the immigrant community has often suspected other motives.
"Many mainstream Americans are afraid of the unknown," says Professor Surendra Gambhir of the University of Pennsylvania. "Some Americans also equate temples with cults."
But in Boise there was no such fear.
There are about 200 Hindu temples and ashrams across North America. More than 75 per cent of them were designed and constructed in the past three decades.
The local newspaper, The Idaho Statesman, gave positive coverage to the effort to build the temple.
"We have been seeing the Lord's hand in every phase of the construction," says Gupta. "Whenever there were small problems, Krishna presented us solutions which were far better than our own. "
For more information, contact: Anantapura Gupta, 1615 Martha Street, Boise, ID 83706; (208) 344-4274.
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