The Shri Mandir as we know it today has a rich history dating back to 1994. What you see now is the culmination of countless hours of work from countless volunteers. While the Mandir is continuing to grow, it is important to reflect upon some of the key points of its history and what has brought it to this stage.
The concept of a Mandir was originally conceived in early 1994 as the result of preliminary discussions and the idea was to establish a single place of worship but embrace the diversity of our religion by having various groups donate ‘murthis’. This basic concept was further strengthened by Harki Parikh, who offered the space rent-free for two full years. The Mandir had a solid vision, and now needed volunteers who help make it a reality.
A committee was formed to discuss the constitution, by-laws, and operational procedures of the Mandir. This committee consisted of two core groups: the Trustee Committee, which started with Harki Parikh, Tej Agrawal, and Rohit Saraiya, and would later see many more people added, and the Executive Committee, which was comprised of dedicated volunteers from the San Diego community. Alex Jain was appointed President of the Executive Committee. The Mandir now had a group of local volunteers who shared the same vision, and needed priests to perform the ceremonies.
Mr. Shastriji, a priest from New Delhi, was hired to start the temple activities. Asha Agrawal provided a temporary installation of a Lord Ganesha murthi to fulfill immediate needs. Asha later ordered and donated the first marble idol of Lord Ganesha. It was ordered from Jaipur, Rajasthan and air-shipped to San Diego. The committee then approached several local groups to donate idols. This synergy of activities is what gave the Mandir a household name in the community. Shri Mandir started growing with its daily activities and functions. Many local businessmen established their operations in the complex with the understanding that this small open-air mall would be San Diego’s “Little India”.
As with any operation, there were bound to be some changes. Shastriji decided to leave for personal reasons. This void was filled by a new priest, Shri Raghavendra Aithal. He became a very active member of the community, getting more involvement from local groups and commitments for murthi donations. He performed a greater variety of ceremonies, both within the Mandir and at private residents. This outreach was met with open arms from the community. Slowly but surely, more deities were installed in the Mandir and community involvement grew exponentially.
|Ganesh||Asha & Tej Agrawal|
|Hanuman||Anila & Adarsh Bhaveja|
|Ram - Sita||Lata & Sudesh Kumar, Manju & Amrish Goel|
|Krishna||Mina & Jayanti Patel|
|Shiv-Parvati and Ganesh||Usha & Madan Dilawri|
|Durga||Geeta & Ramnarayan|
|Jain Murti||Jain Society of San Diego|
|Balaji||Hemlata & Rami Reddy, Manorama & Chandrashekar Reddy, Annapurna & Bobba Venkatadri, Sujatha & P Tripuranini|
|Radha||Mina & Jayanti Patel|
|Ambaji||Hema & Kiran Majmudar|
|Lakshman||Usha & Madan Dilawari|
Pramod Kamdar was elected the next President of the Executive Committee. While there were numerous activities in the Mandir, there was a strong need to have one giant celebration that brought together all devotees and interested parties alike. The Shri Mandir organized a grand Diwali Mela to celebrate the festive occasion. This was met with optimism from the community and was the impetus for future celebrations at so large a scale. The Diwali Mela became a talent show for local artists, singers, dancers, musicians, and fashion boutiques. Currently, about 2500 people attend the Mela every year. It is one of the Mandir’s most important fund-raising events. Following the Mela, many new functions were introduced: Akhanda Ramayan, Shiv Ratri, Janamastami, Ganesha Visarjana, and so forth. The Akhanda Ramayan involves continuous reading of the Ramcharit Manas for about 24 hours, ending in Abhishek. The Ganesha Visarjana brought large activities outside of the Mandir altogether. The event starts with the Ganesha Puja in the Mandir and then a procession to La Jolla Beach Pier for Visarjana. With all activities in the temple, it was clear that another priest was needed to met the hectic puja schedule and keep the Mandir running smoothly.
Navgrah Sthapna was also preformed with the following sponsors:
|Thenmozhi M. Prabhakaran||Hema Kiran Majmudar|
|Neeru Yogen Dalal||Saroj Dakshana Murthy|
|Jyoti Harki Parekh||Geeta Ramnarayan|
|Ahalya Rishikesh||Vijaya Prabhu Orekondy|
Shri Satish Shukla was hired out of Indore, Madhya Pradesh. He immediately became involved with the community, introducing new events and pujas. He is an accomplished singer and dholki player, and has quickly learned the harmonium. He started Mata Ki Bheten with the assistance of many local singers. Shri Raghavendraji left Shri Mandir to pursue other opportunities. The Exective Committee next appointed Asha Agrawal as the President. To fill the void left by Shri Raghavendraji, a new priest, Shri Mahendrada C. Srinivasa was hired. He is a welcome addition to the Mandir community and has built a strong following. A spring festival, Basant Mela, was also introduced. This also became a grand celebration and fundraising event enjoyed by all. Past presidents include Chadmbar Kulkarni, Subandu Majmudar, Hema Majmudar and Devan Patel. At present Mahendra Desai is the president of the Mandir. Now, there are three priests, Punditji. Rajagopalan, Punditji. Shrikanthaachar and Punditji. Trivedi serving the mandir and the community.
Shri Mandir’s Mission is “Provide a common place to foster the sprit of worship, dedication and meditation and to cultivate the Hindu values of life based on the old scriptures of India for all people who practice the Faith of Hinduism and shall include other traditional religion originated in the sub-continent of India. Diffuse the knowledge of the ethical, spiritual, religious, philosophical and social foundations and practice of Hindu Dharma and culture”. At this juncture, Shri Mandir has achieved something truly magical. The collective efforts of countless people, the selfless dedication, and shared vision have made it a “product of the people”. Let us continue to support our Mandir and help it grow to new leaps and bounds.