By Ravi R. Ponangi
Atlanta, GA: On the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya on May 16, Shiv Mandir of Atlanta celebrated a grand bhoomi poojan for building a new Shiv Mandir at 890 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Sugar Hill, GA 30518. The ceremony saw an overwhelming participation of the Greater Atlanta Hindu community.
The event started at 4.00 a.m. at the present Mandir location in Global Mall, with a group of 20 committed devotee walkers that took the “Main Kalash” on the 17-mile journey through Norcross, Buford, and Suwanee to its final destination at the new mandir site. On the way, more devotees joined this pilgrimage and over 300 devotees participated for the final 2.5 miles of Shobha Yatra. The atmosphere was filled with the chanting of Om Namah Shivaya to the accompaniment of beautiful Dhol beats.
Swami Ram Kamal Dasji Vedanti from Varanasi received the Kalash at the land and performed Dhwaja Rohan to mark the start of the bhoomi poojan. He outlined the importance of temples in the Hindu culture and religion and congratulated the Atlanta Hindu community for participating in this historic opportunity.
The main ceremony started with introduction of Swami Ram Kamal Das Vedantiji, the spiritual guide for the ceremony by Surinder Dhar, president of the Executive Committee. A team of seven priests was led by Shiv Mandir’s priest Pandit Gyan Prakash Upadhyay for various poojas that reminded devotees of the great Hindu traditions. The Mantras recited by seven priests in unison created a divine vibration at the land and enthralled the devotees
More than 1,500 people participated in the bhoomi poojan event, with around 300 devotees participating in all pujas that lasted for six hours. Besides participation of the a large number of well-know community leaders, City of Sugar Hill Mayor Gary Pirkle, Council member. Mike Sullivan and Land planning director. Kaipo Awana attended the ceremony. Pirkle congratulated Shiv Mandir management and welcomed Shiv Mandir to the city of Sugar Hill.
Board hairman Ajeet Das praised the community for making the event memorable and success. He urged the community to join hands to attain the next goal of completing the construction of Shiv Mandir in thenext 12 months. He proposed a vote of thanks.
In 2005 Shiv Mandir of Atlanta acquired 11.4 acres of land which is located at 890 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Sugar Hill. The mandir will have Lord Shiv and Shiv Parivar as the main deities, along with Ram Parivar, Radha-Krishna Durga Mata independently located on the same floor with pooja/parikrama areas for individual worship.
The mandir’s architecture will follow Hindu design and concepts with special effects to create grandness. There will be a grand main entrance and a Dhwaja Stambh, a community kitchen, office, classrooms, and an auditorium. The main pooja floor will have 300-500 sitting capacity. The mandir will also have a library and an outdoor Yagna Shala pavilion. The present estimated Phase I construction cost is about $3.5 million.