History

Temple History

HTBN Temple Logo Design and Story by Archana Shekhara :

The Temple logo has the universal sound “OM”. It is the very first vibration which became sound. Creation itself was set in motion by the vibration of OM. It is believed that when the mind is silent you can hear the sound of OM, the sound of the universe. The sounds in OM (AUM) represent the waking, dream, deep sleep states and the silence (naada) which surrounds OM represents the “Turiya” (blissful) state. When we chant OM each part vibrates in a different part of the body and represents the different state of consciousness.


The Sanskrit Symbol of OM :

The 3 represents the three states of consciousness. The lower curve of the three represents the dream state, the upper curve the awake state, the squiggly line on the back is the deep dreamless state. The half moon at the top represents maya, or illusions, the dot is the transcendental state. Only during the deep dreamless state the mind is truly at rest. When we chant OM, the vibrations clear maya from our mind and help us to connect to all beings with love. In the logo, OM is enclosed in circles. It derives meaning from the following shloka :

Om Poorna Madah Poorna Midam; Poornaat Poorna Mudachyate; Poornasya Poornamaadaaya; Poorna Mevaa Vashish Yate. That (Brahman) Is Whole, This (Creation) Is Also Whole; From That Whole (Brahman), This Whole (Creation) Has Come Out; But Even Though Creation Has Come Out from That Brahman; Yet That Whole (Brahman) Remains Whole Only. (Brahman Remains Unaffected, Retains His/Its Fullness And Completeness). To reach that Brahman there are nine smaller circles in the logo. They stand for nine forms of bhakti which are :
  1. Sravanam: Listening to the glories of the Lord : Pareekshit
  2. Kirthanam: Singing His glories : Shakamuni
  3. Smaranam: Chanting His name and remembering Him : Prahalada
  4. Padasevanam: Serving His lotus feet : Lakshmi
  5. Archanam: Worshipping Him : Prithu
  6. Vandanam: Paying obeisance to Him : Akrura
  7. Dasyam: Considering oneself His servant : Hanumantha
  8. Sakhyam: Considering Him as the best friend : Arjuna
  9. Atmanivedanam: Total Surrender : Bali
The sixteen lotus petals completes the logo. It is inspired from the Sri Chakra — the divine energy. It also resembles the radiating Sun (Adhitya, the beginning) which is a symbol of awakening. It aims to remove darkness that is ego and brings out auspicious light and energy of knowledge from within. The colors are satvic in nature. They remind us to be passionate to serve others without any expectations. Serve in the Lord’s name only.
History of the Hindu Temple of Bloomington Normal Introduction

Roots of HTBN sprouted from an older organization, The Hindu Society of Central Illinois, formed in the seventies.  The devotees performed weekly worship on a rotation basis in volunteers’ homes.  This worked well while the number of families of Hindu faith in the community remained small.  When the numbers grew, the need for a separate Hindu Temple became evident.  An attempt to raise funds for the temple was made in the eighties did not result in sufficient pledges.  Building of the Hindu Temple for all shades of the Hindu faith has been a long standing dream of the Hindu community in Bloomington Normal.

The Organization

In July 2006 some like- minded devotees initiated discussions about building a temple in town.  The idea was widely supported by those who came to the first exploratory meeting.  Subsequent discussions led to the name Hindu Temple of Bloomington Normal and registration as not-for-profit organization.  The founding trustees met on December 10, 2006 at a devotee’s residence in Normal to elect the President and other office bearers of the new organization.  Dr. Samir Shah was elected the first President of HTBN.

The following year (2007) saw the creation of temple’s website, aptly named ourhindutemple.org, Bylaws were written.  The temple logo was inaugurated on the day of Ramanavami celebration.  Trustees and volunteers started search for the land.  It was decided that the temple will hold one event each month in rental place until the building was finished.

Leadership
Collective leadership was the hallmark of HTBN.  In the 10-year history, the following have served as President of HTBN:
Samir Shah 2007, 2008
Sanjay Saxena 2009, 2010
Chandra Shekara 2011
Ajay Malpani 2012
Ramesh Chaudhari 2013
Rammohan Mundlapudi 2014
Sridhar Kantamneni 2015
Chetan Desai 2016
Mukesh Gandhi 2017
Finances

The initial boost came from the fourteen devotees who pledged to become trustees by donating an amount that the group agreed upon.  Subsequent fundraising included a variety of campaigns including enrolling more trustees, brick by brick, divine stone, raffle and event related donations.  Receiving 501C(3) not-for-profit recognition from the IRS was an important factor in the fund-raising success.  In 2009 on the occasion of Bhoomi Parichaya a very successful campaign was launched called Brick by Brick.   In 2011, an industrialist who worked in the community in the seventies gave a big boost by pledging a large donation.  In 2013, the loan agreement with the Busey Bank made it possible to sign a contract with the builder.  Another pledge from one of our temple trustees promises to cut the mortgage by 60% in the near future.  This puts the temple on a solid financial foundation.

Events

The first event of the temple was held on Jan. 13, 2008 in a rented facility.   That was the beginning of monthly events.  Once the land was purchased, some events were held on the land.  The following is a list of some events held on the temple grounds.

Sept. 19, 2009 Bhoomi Parichaya, getting to know our grounds.  Brick by Brick was launched.

July 18, 2010  Bhoomi Shuddhi Yagna, Purification of the temple land

June 18, 2011 Bhu-Garbha Vinyasa, Navadhanya sown during Bhugarbha Vinyasa

Aug 14, 2011  Gouseva (service to Goumata by feeding the cow & calf)

June 30, 2012 Jagannatha Yatra

Nov 3, 2012  Gayatri Yagna and Installation of the Divine Stones

April 18-20, 2014 Temple Grand Opening Ceremonies

June 5-7, 2015 Prana Prathistha Ceremonies

Events held on the temple grounds were very popular and attended by large crowds.  These events also raised substantial amounts of funds for the construction.

Volunteers

All activities of the temple from the first meeting in June 2006 to everything done since were dependent on the volunteers. There are hundreds of devotees who volunteered to help with the decision making process, organizing, calling, writing, cooking, cleaning, driving, singing, dancing, running the sound systems, projectors, transporting furniture, folding chairs, building and taking down of the altar and many more activities in the process of designing and making sure that the construction was going as desired, many professional engineers, physicians, and businessmen gave generously of their time.

Construction

On April 16, 2009 temple acquired land of 2.75 acres fully developed and B-1 zoned located on Tullamore  Ave in Bloomington, Illinois for a price of $300,000. Bhoomi Parichaya was performed and the Temple sign board was unveiled.

To oversee construction, a committee consisting of seven trustees and many local subject matter experts was formed and named Construction Coordination Committee (CCC). The goal of the committee was to first develop temple plan to fulfill the vision of the temple, evaluate multiple bids from general contractors, select one general contractor, obtain required permits and work with the contractor to complete the building.

Construction committee met once a week or more often when needed. Trustees were kept informed through numerous all trustee meetings and more than 75 meeting notes with detailed temple layouts.

In early 2011 Vastu expert Mr. Niranjan Babu from India was consulted for temple layout.  One of the primary goal for the temple layout was to have ability to conduct simultaneously multiple activities going on in various parts of the temple e.g. Sanctum area, religious classes in classrooms, food preparation in kitchen and dining area. Later that year, a local Architect was hired to design the building.

The temple sanctum was designed to be built in two phases. The Phase-I of the temple layout included smaller sanctum area, temple hall with a stage, commercially equipped kitchen, meditation room, rooms for Balagokulam. Phase II is an expansion of the sanctum area.

In August of 2012, ground breaking and site work started with auspicious Shanku Sthapana program. In November of 2012, city of Bloomington issued the building permit.

After a short process of inviting bids from different builders, Greg Helton, a local general contractor was selected. Building contract was signed in April 2013.

More than 30 volunteers worked tirelessly to complete the construction project with Sanjay Saxena, Chair of CCC who shouldered the lion’s share of the responsibility.

Temple Land
LOCATION : Tullamore Ave, Bloomington, IL.
AREA : 2.766 ACRES (300 x 402=120487 Sq. Feet)

Current Phase-I

Future Sanctum Expansion, Phase-II

Artist’s rendering of proposed sanctum