New Temple Breaks Ground Thanksgiving Weekend
Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple is building a second Temple on its 9 acre parcel in Cedar Park. The groundbreaking ceremony will be from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (12:38 muhurth) on Saturday, November 24, (Thanksgiving weekend). The new Temple will be called Sri Sai Hari Hara Hanuman Temple. “The Sri stands for the forms of Mother Divine in the Temple” says Craig Sastry, Temple President. “These include Mata Durga, Parvati, and Padmavathy, or Sri, as well as Radha and Sita. The Hari stands for the many forms of Lord Vishnu, including Lord Venkateswara, Lord Rama, and Krishna. The Hara stands for Lord Shiva and his family – including Ganapati and Subramanya. The Sai stands for Seva, service to others, for which the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple is already getting some fame due to the large number of charitable projects it has undertaken.” Sastry says that a shrine of Ayyappa will also grace the Temple, as well as the Navagrahas (nine planets).
“The Temple will be built in a traditional South Indian style” says Sastry. “Beautifully crafted shrines will be constructed around each deity, with artistic carvings done by silpis, artisans brought over from India trained in this craft. The Temple will be more than 6,000 square feet in size, a third bigger than the existing Sai Temple. A separate building nearby will house images of the Navagrahas, or Nine Planets. The Temple and Navagraha Building will be inside a 20,000 square foot compound, plenty of room for future expansion” says Sastry. He says that outside the compound will be a garage for the Temple’s grand chariot, used on festive occasions. The construction is part of a $3,000,000 expansion of the existing Shirdi Temple. It includes construction of a new 4,000 square foot Community Hall for weddings, cultural programs, and other events, expected to be completed in February, 2013.
“The Temple is being built according to the Agama Sastras, scriptures that describe how to build a Temple” says Sastry. “There are actually several layers of consultants who have helped us with the design of the Temple. We consulted with Saint Karunamayi, and Saint Bhagavati Siddhar, both of South India. They recommended Lord Venkateswara as the main deity. They also suggested that the idol of Mata Durga be in white marble, making many of the North Indians happy, because they prefer marble over the standard South Indian black granite. Swami Viswayogi Viswamji continues to give specific instructions and advice on various features of the Temple. Detailed Vaastu considerations come from Austin resident Eric Hamilton, who is one of the top Vaastu experts in the world. Our staphati, or Vedic architect, is seventh generation staphati Bhavanandam, from Chennai, who works with his brothers and father . They are giving us precise calculations on the size and shape of the Temple. Their firm, Silpakala Nilayam, has designed temples all over the world. We are coordinating all these individuals with Terry Colegrove of Architecture TDC, a local Austin architect we have retained to design and coordinate the engineering for the building” says Sastry.
“When we met with Bhavanandam, he told us it would take 10 – 15 silpis, or artisans, 10 – 15 months to complete the interior of the Temple. According to their interpretation of the Agama Sastras, it is inappropriate to install idols until the silpis have completed the shrines. It would be like moving into a house while the carpenters were still working on the bedrooms. Therefore, the Temple’s estimated opening date is in 2014.