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Cheryl Anderson: Kaukauna welcomes Hindu temple

Author: Cheryl Anderson
Publication: Postcrescent.com
Date: May 4, 2012
URL: http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20120504/APC0406/305040094/Cheryl-Anderson-Kaukauna-welcomes-Hindu-temple

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion, yet before November, Wisconsin only had two Hindu temples. But there’s a new worship space that has joined the mix in Kaukauna.

The Hindu Temple of Northeast Wisconsin purchased the 7,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Pyramid Creative Marketing in November for $505,000. The building sits on four acres of land off Delanglade Street.

Temple timings are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The temple’s part-time priest (or pundit) is Dinesh Bhat of Neenah.

Although the building is in prime condition, some remodeling is needed to make it more usable as a worship space, including adding a commercial kitchen and a play area for children.

To that end, the temple is hosting a Bollywood Musical Evening and fundraising dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. May 12 at Liberty Hall in Kimberly. Music will be provided by Poonam Bhatia, a playback singer in the Mumbai film industry. Tickets are $40.

The Hindu Temple of Northeast Wisconsin joins the Hindu Temple of Wisconsin in Pewaukee and the Hindu Temple of Madison, according to Dr. Ram Turlapati, chairman of the temple’s board of directors.

More than 600 people currently attend the temple, coming from as far away as Rhinelander, Marinette, Fond du Lac and Wausau. The community also attracts another 400 or so people who come to the Fox Valley from India to consult at area firms, staying six months to a year.

Hinduism is a diverse body of religion, philosophy and cultural practice native to and predominant in India. It’s characterized by a belief in reincarnation, karma and a supreme being of many forms and natures.

The Indian philosophy has one prime god named Vishnu, the sustaining god, explained board member Dr. Punit Kumar of Fond du Lac. “Then there is Shiva, who is the destroyer, a very powerful god. And then there is Brahma,who made the universe.”

Unless area devotees traveled to Pewaukee and before that, Chicago, families would gather to worship in homes, Chandrakant Patel of Neenah said.

“The population has grown so much we needed a temple,” Kumar said.

The Hindu Temple of Northeast Wisconsin took four years to come to fruition. Fundraising efforts allowed the membership to pay about 40 percent of the purchase price upfront.

Having a space to worship is like a dream come true, but it’s only a stepping stone to a greater vision: t build a real Hindu temple.

“But it’s a great start,” Turlapati said.

— Cheryl Anderson: 920-993-1000, ext. 249, or canderson@postcrescent.com
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