Our story began, about ten years ago, when a group of families in Gainesville decided to establish a temple. There are many models of temple formation and we decided that the main deity will be Mother Devi. TriDevi is a concept in Hinduism that represents the three goddesses of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. These three goddesses represent power, wealth, and knowledge. There is a yearning among all people of Indian origin to have a temple for several reasons. From the olden days, the temple serves as a central part of one's life and all sacred rites of passage such as birth, childhood, coming of age, marriage, and all other activities happen in temple halls blessed by sacred rites in the presence of God and priests of the temple. These rites usually include a Puja and a Homam, or fire ceremony. The priest sets an auspicious time and instructs one as to what to bring, what to do, and prepares a ceremony. A temple or Mandir is not only a place for worship or prayer but also a place where the mind becomes still to seek the source of life, peace, joy, and comfort. Our Gainesville temple will serve many other purposes. It will be an institution for Darshan and a place for spiritual learning and practicing a Hindu way of life. Children will learn in the Bala Vidya Mandir an essential part of all Hindu temples. The temple offers refreshing tranquility and a place to meditate.
One feature of our Hindu temple will be a meditation hall and we are seeking a sponsor to fulfill this mission. The term Meditation refers to a broad variety of practices designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy, and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness.
Like many Indian temples, ours will have a beautiful green space, with a flower garden and a place to grow vegetables, for the community. We have already received a composting station, generously donated by one of our local high school students.
In our quest, we have managed to raise a modest amount of money. We are happy to announce that recently we expanded our board by adding new members, and with everyone's effort we will ramp up our fundraising activities. There is a new sense of urgency to accomplish our goal. Our recent fundraiser received pledges totaling $51,000. This is an auspicious start and we plan to build on this momentum. We have recently purchased a beautiful temple site in the Newberry area. This site is perfect for the temple since it is located on a highway accessible from the south as well as north of Florida. Ocala residents will also find it convenient since it will be the closest temple to the town of Ocala. The site is large, 21.5 acres, and can accommodate a temple and all needs of the Hindu community of Gainesville and surrounding areas. The site has no flood zones, has good access roads, ability to park, and can accommodate several hundred people during major events. We are meeting with a temple architect who has built other Indian temples in the Florida area and we are visiting several local temples to get the most comprehensive plans together and learn from their experience. We appreciate the efforts of each and every one of you for helping so far and we look forward to a productive and successful Phase II.
Phase II will start with building a temporary structure to start Pujas immediately at the temple site. For this purpose, we are in need of funds in the range of $150K. We hope all of you devotees will contribute generously so that we can make this happen in the next few months.