BY DERRICK VINESH
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: THESTAR
SEBERANG JAYA - When His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada visited Malaysia in 1971, he had a vision for a Krishna temple to be built in Penang.
The founder of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) had then drawn a rough sketch of the temple and left instructions for the devotees here to follow.
It was quite a tall order but the devotees will soon see the fruits of their labour when the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple of Devotion and Understanding in Bandar Seberang Jaya officially opens on Aug 29.
The grand three-storey octagonal-shaped temple will be the first Hindu temple in the country to have 16 chatris (ornate dome-shaped pavilions), two octagon skylight domes and three main shikara domes.
ISKCON national general secretary Simheswara Dasa said although the devotees here were 44 years late, they were happy to finally fulfil the wishes of the late Swami Prabhupada who died in 1977.
“The main temple building is now 95% complete, leaving only work on the installation of sound systems, air-conditioning units, lightings, fittings, paintwork, landscaping and roadwork yet to be done,” he added.
He said the RM7mil temple, which saw its groundbreaking in 2009, was designed after India’s Jagannath temple in Puri and Krishna Balaram temple in Vrindavan.
“The 100ft-tall temple’s sculpture and ornamental decorations by 14 artisans from India is one of its kind in the world with 12 lions sitting on top of the shikara domes rising up to 80ft,” he said in an interview.
Simheswara, who is also the building committee chairman, said the vedic-friendly temple’s main prayer hall on the first floor would have deities Lord Krishna and Radha placed on a grand Balinese teakwood altar and placed under the main domes.
He said the prayer hall could accommodate up to 1,000 devotees at any one time, adding that 10 statues depicting the incarnations of Lord Krishna would also be placed within the temple.
He said there would be a separate kitchen to cook food offerings for the deities as well as a room to keep a wardrobe of attires for the deities.
The statues of deities Jegannath, Baladeva and Subadhra would be put up in the prayer hall later on.
“The temple’s mezzanine floor would feature a Srila Prabhupada Gallery while the ground floor would have an auditorium to run audio visual presentations and an exhibition of Lord Krishna’s incarnations,” Simheswara said.
He said the committee had so far raised RM5mil for the temple construction and hoped to raise the remaining RM2mil through various fundraising events and sponsorship.
Building project vice-chairman Kalesha Dasa said a RM3mil multipurpose hall was being jointly developed with the main temple building while a RM1.5mil education and cultural centre was completed in 2004.
He said the four-storey multipurpose hall would have an open dining hall to run the movement’s food-for-life free vegetarian food programme, 10 guest rooms, a viewing gallery and a performance stage.
The three-storey cultural centre will house a restaurant, gift and bookshop, childcare centre, meeting rooms and education centre.
“We are expecting over 10,000 people during the temple’s opening-cum-installation of deities ceremony at 10am on Aug 29.
“They include devotees from India, China, US, Australia, England, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Africa.
“The temple’s opening will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of ISKCON’s founding in the US,” Kalesha said, adding that 20 priests from the International School of Vedic in Mayapur, India, would lead the ceremonies.
For details, call Simheswara (012-3798743), the temple office (04-3808897) or visit the movement’s website at www.iskconmalaysia.com or e-mail srktdu@gmailcom.