The Hindu Temple Of Greater Chicago Lemont
The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago Lemont is an Illinois general not-for-profit corporation, established in 1977.The temple has been in the forefront for over three decades in helping many seeking to actively continue of traditional Indian religious and cultural values in US. Today, the temple, in addition to two main temples, Sri Rama and Ganesh-Shiva-Durga temples, has a Vivekananda Statue and Vivekananda Spiritual Center that provides additional source to learn and experience spirituality. With the addition of this notable center and installation of Swamiji’s statue – the first one to be installed in a public place in United States of America, HTGC has become a prime center for religious, spritual and cultural activities for thousands of people in midwest states; Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa.
The purpose of HTGC is:
To establish and maintain Hindu Temples build and serviced in the traditional Hindu style.
To promote Hindu Dharma (religion and traditions) and culture.
To promote inter-religious, social, and cultural understanding.
To support humanitarian causes.
Thousands of Hindu families migrated from India to the United States from the early 1960’s seeking higher education and challenging careers. As the families grew and settled down, it became apparent that there was a necessity to actively encourage the continuation of traditional Indian religious and cultural values. Several Asian Indian organizations arose during this period, providing some cultural avenues, but there was no religious institution which Hindus could call “home.”
It was the year 1977, the then-president of Telugu Association of Greater Chicago, Sri Tirupatiah Tella, met with a small group of enthusiasts including Sri Galla Naidu, Sri Umapathi R.Cattamanchi, and Sri B. Chandrasekar Reddy, to discus the possibility of founding a religious organization and building a temple. Other pioneers who promoted and worked for this cause were Sri C. Natarajan, the late Sri B. Seshadri, Sri P. Krishnan, Sri M. Pattabhiraman, Sri Surendra Goel, and the late Sri Arun Mansukhani. An ad-hoc committee was formed, and they met weekly in the residence of Sri Seshadri at Oak Park. “The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago” was established as a not-for-profit organization to encompass the needs of all Hindus. The first General Body meeting was held in December 1977 and the first Governing Body for 1978 was officially elected.
Sri Vidyasagar Dharmapuri, the first president, and other enthusiasts such as Sri Galla Naidu, Sri P. Rajagopalan and Sri B. Chandra Reddy had a macro-vision to integrate all Hindus from various parts of India. Their panoramic vision included a place of worship, a place of cultural and fine arts activities, religious and language schools, and a library.
During Sri Dharmapuri’s two-year term as president, the organization made significant progress. In order to meet the religious needs of all the Hindus from the various parts of India, it was decided to have the Pradhana Devata (main deity) as Sri Rama along with Sita Devi, Sri Lakshmana, Hanuman, and Lord Vinayaka. The next challenge was to find an appropriate site to build a traditional temple. Sri G.C. Roy, Sri V. Donaparthi, Sri Darshan Rawal, Sri Y. Yadlapudi and others were involved in the search. Over thirty possible locations in the Greater Chicago area were surveyed. After considering all options, the final selection of the site in Lemont was made with the help of Sri U. Cattamanchi, Sri K. Ramakrishna, and Sri R. Gorrepati. The beautiful wooded bluff hill-side property, with its adjacent waterfalls, was 17.6 acres and located 1.8 miles south of I-55.