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July 5, 1999
Balaji Mandir Is Consecrated In New Jersey
R S Shankar
Ten years after it was first discussed, the Sri Venkateswara Temple (Balaji Mandir) and Community Center in Bridgetown is finally ready.
When the consecration ceremony was over on Sunday, temple officials said at least 10,000 devotees participated in the rites and cultural events.
Though most of the devotees would come from New York tristate area, a sizeable number is due from other states.
"This temple is a matter of pride for everyone," says S Venkata Murthy, a New York software professional. "And since the ceremonies are taking place during the long four day holidays, many people have driven here from as far as far 300 miles to be with their friends and families and participate in the rites and festivities."
The temple, which cost about $ 3.5 million, also has a 350-seat auditorium where religious instructions will be offered and cultural events will be scheduled.
Several new temples have been either consecrated recently in America or are in the process of being ready for the consecration. The Sri Muruga Temple near Washington was consecrated a few weeks ago. It is estimated that over $ 15 million is being spent this year to complete, renovate and extend half-a-dozen temples in more than dozen American cities.
The Sri Venkateswara Temple offers a soaring tower (Rajagopuram) of glass-reinforced concrete with images of deities. The Dhwajasthambam, a 56-foot brass-coated structure is topped by a statue of Garuda.
While the Rajagopuram Nava Kalasa and Dhwajasthambha Pratishtha ceremonies will be over by July 3, the Sri Venkateswara Brahmotsavam celebrations will continue till July 11. The ceremonies are conducted under the guidance of His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Vidyananda Swami of Peethadhipati of Sri Vyasasramam in Yerpedu in Andhra Pradesh.
On July 10, a cultural event, consisting of classical dances by children and a Carnatic music performance is being offered.
"People in their hundreds have been visiting the temple not just to marvel at its beauty but also spend a few minutes with their friends and relatives," says Krishna Vanguri, a spokesperson. "Temples in North America -- or for that matter in a foreign country -- are not just places of worship; they also serve as cultural and community centers."
How to reach the temple:
On 287N take Exit 22A for 202/206S. Pass four lights and make a right on Old Farm Road. The temple is on the left.
The temple and the community center are located at 780 Old Farm Road, Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807; (908) 725-4477.
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