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Jul. 30–SOUTH JORDAN — The Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple hosts dozens of festivals each year in honor of different deities — the multiple forms of a single God.
During those festivals, the temple’s priest Satish Kumar said “first we do our worship to the gods, then we have our celebrations.”
But the subsequent dancing, music, socializing and feasting isn’t allowed in the temple’s sacred space.
On warm summer nights, the lack of a nearby performance building is not much of an inconvenience since the temple has an outdoor pavilion, said Divya Narayanan. She teaches traditional Indian dances, and noted the lack of available rehearsal space means dancers often practice in her basement.
When the weather isn’t so accommodating, “it’s a problem,” Narayanan said, leaving festivalgoers to either find a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel or a spot at the University of Utah.
The solution, though, is beginning to take shape in the form of the planned India Cultural ECenter.
As the temple has become a hub for the Hindu community, said the ICC board’s president, Sneha Kumar Kasera, the adjacent cultural center can provide for people’s social and educational needs.
“It is something that [will] be used for showcasing India and Indian culture,” he said.
The roughly 6,000-square-foot building will have a main hall where performances are held, and several rooms
to teach traditional dances, music and even language.
The center will help promote and preserve Indian and south Asian traditions, Kasera said, as well as provide an education, social and cultural center for the community.
Kasera said construction should begin in the center this month; and earlier in July, the temple hosted a special ritual on the site in anticipation of the new facility.
It wasn’t technically a groundbreaking, he said, “but paying our respects and seeking permission [from Mother Earth], and that evil spirits are turned away from the land.”
The temple hosted a similar ritual last year when the center was to be built on a different location on the campus, Kasera said.
After community members raised concerns the center would be too far from the temple, the site was moved closer to the existing building.
After adjusting the center’s dimensions to make it fit its new spot, and adding a corridor between the two buildings, construction is ready to begin.
“It feels really great to be this close now,” Kasera said.
While there is enough money to get the project started — about 65 percent of the funds needed have been raised — Kasera hopes more donations will come in during the next few months to reach the center’s $1.15 million price tag.
The India Cultural Center
Our Mission
To promote and preserve the educational and socio-cultural traditions of people of Asian Indian ethnic heritage, Indo-Americans and Friends of India and to organize and develop charitable, social, cultural and educational activities of interest to them.
To build a center for hosting cultural events which showcase the heritage of India and South Asia.
To establish funding for the continued upkeep and functioning of this Center, while preserving the sanctity and spirit of its surroundings.
The Salt Lake Tribune – July 30, 2009
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