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Hindu Temple Opens Near Atlanta

The Hindu community in the southern U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia recently opened a new religious and cultural center. The $19 million facility is the largest temple of its kind in the United States. For producer Aunshuman Apte and Niharika Acharya, VOA's Jim Bertel has more on this new spiritual landmark.

Lilburn, a tiny Atlanta suburb, is home to one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. The white marble, limestone and sandstone Swaminarayan temple opened with great fanfare in August.

Craftsman carved the stones in India before shipping each piece to the U.S. where it was assembled following religious guidelines dating back thousands of years. "It's a huge temple,and a beautiful one. And I think it will only enhance the spiritual experience that people have," said one person involved with the construction.

Temple leaders want to use this space to fulfill more than just the spiritual needs of the local Hindu community. The temple's Anand Mehta says they plan to use the facility to reach out to people of all faiths. "When natural disasters of any kind strike, we will mobilize our forces," he said. "We will build a family activity center which will host educational classes, teaching the Indian culture (and) Indian music."

Lilburn mayor Jack Bolton believes the new temple will raise Lilburn's profile and encourage tourism. "We don't have anything that becomes a landmark of that significance so in terms of Lilburn, it helps give us some recognition," said the mayor.