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Ambitious Saibaba Temple nearing completion

Devotees of Shridi Saibaba in general and members and well-wishers of the Shridi Saibaba Sansthan New Zealand Inc in particular will be delighted to know that the Organisation’s $6 million Temple will be opened next month.

This reporter observed construction, furniture and fittings and other activities moving at a hectic pace last week as the officials of the Sansthan watch with bated breath to announce the formal inauguration of the place of worship.

The Executive Committee is hopeful of conducting a three-day inaugural ceremony from October 11 to 13.

Located at 12 Princess Street in the Central Auckland suburb of Onehunga, the Temple Complex, occupying freehold land area of about 2975 Sq Metres (and built-in area of 3685 Sq Metres), will incorporate a number of modern facilities and amenities to serve the interests of the community and the society in a larger sense.

Extensive Complex

The Temple forms the core of the Complex on the First Floor. The ‘Baba Hall,’ accommodating the main Deity and the Navagrahas, occupies an area of 845 Sq metres while an adjacent Hall (145 Sq metres) will have other Hindu Deities.

The Community Hall (First Floor) is another important aspect of the Complex. The 565 Sq metres facility, with a built-in stage, two green rooms and other amenities, would be ideal for weddings, religious discourses and cultural programmes.

The Ground Floor, with a built-up area of approximately 1850 Sq metres, will comprise a dining hall with a fully-fitted kitchen and service facility (total area of 625 Sq metres).

The Complex also accounts for two apartments with as many bedrooms on the Second Floor for priests, recruited from India to serve at the Temple.

The Temple will provide within its premises, parking for 82 vehicles (including covered car park for 32 vehicles), while off-street parking would allow 125 more cars.

Severe challenges

President Hari Gangisetty, Vice-President Shivani Arora, Secretary Hameed Mohammed, Treasurer Murugesu Ramanathan and members of the Executive Committee are justifiably proud of the achievements recorded so far. They have successfully met a series of challenges since the General Body of the Sansthan approved the Project at its meeting held more than two years ago.

“Converting an existing premises used as a warehouse to a purpose-built Temple that would meet the needs of the community was the principle issue. There were several stages of planning and implementation involved in the construction process, the most significant of which was obtaining the Resource Consent of the Auckland Council. A number of other issues including safety and security of the structure followed but with the quality construction works and with the support extended by contractors, members of the Executive Committee, members and devotees of the Sansthan and others, we were able to overcome all odds,” they said.

Finishing touches

As we went to press, a number of jobs were in their final stages. These included the elevator to facilitate movement of the elderly and others in need, equipping the kitchen area, flooring, carpeting, electrical fittings and connections, decorative lighting and a few others.

“The most challenging task would be installation of the main Deity of Saibaba, which weighs about a ton and a half. Moving the Statue from the Ground Floor to the First Floor would entail strenuous efforts. The strength of people’s devotion and the Grace of Baba will help us to achieve even the impossible,” Mr Gangisetty said.

With 800 registered members and several hundred ‘drop in devotees’ who otherwise subscribe to other religious faiths, the Sansthan is on a solid physical and financial foundation. It has a healthy cash balance and cash flow to service a bank loan.

“Each member represents a household and as such the Sansthan boasts of a close-knit family of more than 2500 people,” Mrs Arora said.

Photo : An exterior view of the Shirdi Saibaba Temple in Onehunga, Auckland

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