Hindu Heritage Centre opens
As great things often do, it began with one person’s dream. “I wanted to create not simply a temple, but a centre for Hindu culture,” said Surender Shastri, a popular Hindu priest in the Greater Toronto Area. Today, after eight years, Shastri’s vision became a reality with the grand opening of the Hindu Heritage Centre at 6300 Mississauga Rd. in Mississauga. Right up to the day before the opening ceremonies, volunteers were working to finish the building, including the crane operators who placed the final golden dome on the roof, and the men who installed the final 1,000-kilogram carved marble deity to join the other deities already inside the temple.
Within the beautiful salmon-coloured structure, behind the white pillars, there is a library, banquet hall, a classroom and meeting rooms. “So many people in the Hindu community have donated their money and time to make this a reality,” said Shastri. “None of this would have been possible without them.”
Out of Shastri’s hearing, his long-time friend and one of the centre’s co-founders, Dr. Shachi Rattan added: “He won’t tell you this, but Surender has given everything to make this happen. He even mortgaged his own house.”
It is a case of “if you build it, they will come.” The centre has already begun operations, with more than 500 people attending worship services every Tuesday and Sunday. Daily meditations and scripture teachings are also offered, as are classes in Indian languages, Indian music and dance, Hindu culture, yoga, and social programs for seniors. There are approximately 50,000 Hindus in Mississauga, and about a half-million in the GTA.
“But anyone is welcome at the centre,” Shastri said, “not only Hindu. We are all one family, regardless of faith.”
More than a thousand people attended the inaugural celebrations, including representatives from every level of Canadian government, and Preeti Saran, the Consul General of India in Toronto . “This centre will help sustain and promote Indian values, culture, and heritage which have contributed so much to this country,” Saran said.
Mayor Hazel McCallion began her speech with a few words in Hindi, much to the delight of the crowd.
“What an impact the Hindu community has had on our community,” she said. “Truth, honesty, non-violence, perseverance and piousness. “Just imagine what a wonderful world this would be if we all adopted these Hindu beliefs. This building stands as a symbol of the vision and determination of the Hindu people. Congratulations to those who had the vision and the dream.”
Courtesy : Missisauga.com