After almost a 20-year wait, Germany's largest Hindu temple will become functional by Diwali 2023. The Sri Ganesha Hindu temple is set to open in November 2023 in the capital city of Berlin.
The construction project is almost complete thanks to years of efforts of 70-year-old Vilwanathan Krishnamurthy. While the temple structure has been built, it still stands ‘without the gods,’ as Krishnamurthy plans a massive, six-day-long opening celebration in November. "We're waiting for the gods," he was quoted as saying by DW News.
Krishnamurthy came to Berlin almost 50 years ago and always dreamed of setting up a temple there for the community. His wife also joined him in Germany. As he worked for the electrical company AEG, "for three Deutschmarks an hour". He founded an association to build the Sri-Ganesha Hindu Temple.
"This temple is a dream for me. As a Hindu, I can also celebrate everything at home, but I cannot celebrate it alongside other people. It requires a space to celebrate with others, with friends, and to enjoy doing so."Krishnamurthy stated
Long Fundraising, Construction Process
The association to build the Sri-Ganesha Hindu Temple has been active since 2004. Shortly thereafter, the district authority offered the association the plot of land on the edge of Hasenheide park, between the districts of Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Tempelhof.
"A gift from the gods," Krishnamurthy called it. Building work for the new facility was due to commence in 2007, then 2010. There were many ground-breaking ceremonies; various dates were set for its completion. But for a long time, there was not enough money. Krishnamurthy recounts the many phases of the building process in Germany: regulations, approval procedures, deadlines, financing plans.
The temple, which is now almost finished — Krishnamurthy explains it without complaint — was built solely with the foundation's own funds. "We have carried this through with our own donations. There was no support from the Berlin Senate, from the district authority or from the federal government. I can also understand that." He continued: "We did not want to build a temple on credit. Our future generations would have eventually had to pay it back. So, we were dependent on donations."
The temple's proximity to the "Amazon Tower," Berlin's tallest high-rise under construction, where many young Indians are employed, has contributed significantly to increased donations. Krishnamurthy notes, "In the past five years, we have witnessed substantial growth in donations. Young people are willing to contribute generously."
As the temple approaches completion, Krishnamurthy expresses his contentment with the progress. He shares insights into the transport of materials from India to Berlin and the meticulous quality checks, including a stone-curing process spanning several weeks. Come November, around the time of the Diwali festival of lights, he aims to complete the project, marking the beginning of the six-day Kumbhabhishekham consecration ceremony.