Hindu temple leaders expect an April ‘soft opening’ for new structure on Goeller Boulevard

What many local Hindus have long called a dream come true has risen from their imagination to a 10,000-square-foot segment of reality to further their faith.

The local Hindu Society of Southern Indiana soon will complete its $1.3 million temple next door to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus building at 7930 W. Goeller Boulevard as part of what is labeled the Columbus Interfaith Campus. Carpet and some other items are being added now.

The two-story structure will have what organizers are calling “a soft opening” sometime next month, and then a major celebration in June or July with visiting Hindu priests from India and elsewhere, according to Rajkumar Subramanian, the Hindu society’s communications coordinator.

The building, designed by Steve Miller Design of Nashville in Brown County, will serve about 500 area Hindus here and in surrounding counties in the beginning, he said. Miller also designed the two Buddhist temples in Bloomington.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Subramanian said of the building, which he said would help bolster his own faith.

Part of the cost will be covered by a $700,000 loan and the rest will be covered by existing and projected donations, Subramanian said.

A number of locals already have been invited for casual tours of the temple “just to give them an idea of what it all is,” as Subramanian put it.

Toward that end, he added that the building eventually probably will include a wing devoted to the basics of Hinduism as an educational tool for visitors.

“It could possibly be like how you might walk through a small museum,” he said.

The Hindu society held a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 3, 2019, before a gathering of more than 1,000 people, including Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and other local leaders.

Local Hindu leaders have dreamed of such a facility for more than 25 years, organizers said at the groundbreaking. Others have said some talked of such when they first came to Columbus as far back as the 1970s.

Specific planning began in about 2010 for what is known as the Sri Ganesh Mandir. The temple is meant to initially accommodate about 400 people at a time, with ample room for expansion. Donations for the cause still are being accepted at hssicolumbus.org, and contributors so far include a substantial number of non-Hindus in the area, according to organizers.

Nic Cable, the Unitarian Universalist minister and also the executive director of the interfaith campus, sees the structure beyond the bounds of Hinduism.

“Ideally, it needs to be seen as something of value to the whole community and not just Hindus,” Cable said, adding that some parts of the structure probably can be booked for rental activities and events. “Just as the beautiful architecture and design elements of the 20th Century have been a boost to our pride as a community, the cultural diversity of our community is really what’s particularly shaping our town in the 21st Century.”