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Sanatan Mandir’s joyous Shilanyas Ceremony

By Mahadev Desai
November 2014
Sanatan Mandir’s joyous Shilanyas Ceremony


(Left) Laying the shila for the new Sanatan Mandir.

Sanatan Mandir organized a joyous and reverential Shilanyas Mahotsav over Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30, 2014 for the proposed new temple. (For background on the history of the India American Cultural Association (IACA) from 1971 and for details on features of the new Sanatan Mandir building, please see Website Bonus Features below.)

Shilanyas is the second stage in the construction of a temple. It follows Bhoomi Pooja, the first ceremony performed to purify a new site for the construction of a temple. According to Vaastu Shastra, Shilanyas draws cosmic energy from the Supreme and permanently shelters it at the site.

The ceremony was attended by over 500 worshippers including many community leaders. Sanatan Mandir priest Acharya Pramod Padhiji, Shilanyas event coordinator Praful Desai, and priests from Shakti Mandir, Shiv Mandir, and the Nepali community, conducted the ceremony under a huge canopy.

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(Above) Covering the Shila.

The mahotsav began on Friday with Ganapati Pooja and Panchdevata Shobha-yatra (ceremonial procession of the worshippers carrying shila to be consecrated for Shilanyas Pooja). This ritual brings the community around the holy event and the construction that will follow. The hour-long shobha-yatra from the old site to the hallowed site of the new mandir was to the accompaniment of dhol nagara, chanting of Vedic mantras and pushpa vrishti (shower of colorful flowers). Then the priests installed Ganapati murti in the present mandir. Ganeshji loves ladoos, so 1008 ladoos (modak) archana was made. This was followed with aarti and delicious mahaprasad.

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(Left) Ganapati sthapana.  Ladoos are placed before Lord Ganesh.



The mahotsava continued on Saturday with Ganapati Pooja; Kalash and Matrika Pujan; Panchaayatan Devata Pujan; Vishwa Karma Pujan; Rajgir Pujan; Shila Pujan and Sthapan to name a few rituals. The priests chanted various Vedic mantras to invoke blessings of all the Gods.

A foundation pit was dug and a small vessel containing sacraments and a foundation stone ceremoniously placed right below the garbhagriha (the innermost sanctum of the temple where the presiding deity resides).Various holy objects were also placed in the pit with the spontaneous outpouring of gifts and donations from the devotees. (See photo at top of page.)

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Devotees doing havan. The proposed new Sanatan Mandir.

Jay Patel, architect, and Tushar Sanghvi, general contractor, were recognized. Tushar Sanghvi, a long time supporter of IACA, will perform his services pro bono. Many devotees participated in a spiritually elevating havan, aarti, and mahaprasad. Shilanyas Mahotsav helped raise $175,000 and new pledges of about $85,000.

Temple construction will begin soon and the new Sanatan Mandir is expected to be inaugurated in approximately 40 weeks after construction begins. Sanatan Mandir President Bhupen Bivek and officers have exhorted the community to support the mandir through donations in cash or kind, or by volunteering.

Website Bonus Feature

History of IACA and the Sanatan Mandir:
The India American Cultural Association was formed by a handful of Indian Americans in 1971 in Atlanta. As the community grew steadily a need was felt for a home for IACA. The existing building, named India Cultural and Religious Center, at 1281 Cooper Lake Rd. SE, Smyrna, GA, was bought in March 1984. The Center was renovated and the inauguration of ICRC Temple, one of the oldest temples in Atlanta, took place in July 1986, and deities were ceremoniously installed. Since then the current temple has been attracting worshippers who come to offer prayers and to celebrate Indian holy days and festivals. The temple has played a sterling role in promoting education and rich Indian culture and heritage through language classes, Indian classical dances, yoga classes, etc., fostering harmony and unity in the family and the community.

To meet the rising need of a growing Indian community, a more spacious community center and temple was desired. IACA acquired adjoining homes and land during 1998 thru 2001, increasing the campus from 3.5 acres to 10.4 acres.

On December 4, 2005, the general body of IACA passed a resolution for developing an India Center and new Sanatan Mandir as separate buildings; the latter will be built first. The name Sanatan Mandir for the new temple comes from the guiding principles of Sanatan Dharma. In 2009, Phase 1 of site preparation began, including completion of the parking lot, ingress, egress, detention pond, retaining walls, safety lights, compaction of the site pad, and utilities work.

On June 11, 2014, the Board of Governors, Executive Committee of the new Sanatan Mandir, and IACA Board and Executive Committee reviewed the design and authorized Mandir BOG to get the approval of plans from the City and County governments, obtain finances, and proceed with the construction of the new Mandir. The meeting also scheduled the Shilanyas Mahotsav, the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony, for the auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi Day on August 29 and 30, 2014.

Details on important features of the new Sanatan Mandir:
Total: 17400+ 1280 Sq. Ft. Passage
*Building A: 6985 Sq. Ft.
*Building B: 6440 Sq. Ft.
*Mezzanine: 4045 Sq. Ft.
Comparison:                           New Mandir / Current Mandir / IACA Auditorium
Prayer Hall :                              3290 SF /1705 SF (885+820 SF) / 1960 SF
Prayer Hall Seating capacity:          470 /           243 (126+117) /           --
Prayer Hall Height:                         18 Ft /            9 Ft /                          18 Ft
Current Auditorium Seating Capacity: --/             -- /                             280
Dining Area:                                1920 SF / 1600 SF (Both sides) /        --
Dining Area Seating Capacity:         172 /               120 /                           --
Garbhagruh:                                400 SF /              210 SF /                       --

It will have the authentic Bhartiya Mandir appearance and appeal. In addition to more spacious facilities for prayers and celebration of major Indian festivals and holy days, the Temple will also provide facilities for the educational and cultural activities for everyone, including the young generation as well as for the seniors.

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