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Germany’s Largest Hindu Temple Set to Open in Berlin

Nearly twenty years ago, Vilwanathan Krishnamurthy set out on a mission close to his heart, to construct the largest Hindu temple in Germany. Now, as the temple nears completion in Berlin, he eagerly anticipates a grand six-day opening celebration in November, stating with a smile, “We’re waiting for the gods.”

Largest Hindu Temple Set to Open in Berlin

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Krishnamurthy’s journey reflects not just the construction of a remarkable religious edifice but also the transformation of “guest workers” into integral members of Berlin’s diverse community. His story sheds light on the evolving religious tapestry of the German capital.

Vilwanathan Krishnamurthy arrived in what was then West Berlin almost 50 years prior. He initially found employment with the electrical company AEG, earning a humble three Deutschmarks an hour.

It was during these early years in Berlin that Krishnamurthy’s dream flourished, the dream about building a Hindu temple. He explains, “As a Hindu, I can also celebrate everything at home, but I can’t celebrate it alongside others. It requires space to celebrate with others, with friends, and enjoy doing so.”

In 2004, the Sri-Ganesha Hindu Temple Building Society was established, denoting the start of a difficult journey. The association secured a plot of land on the edge of Hasenheide Park in Berlin, a gift that Krishnamurthy considered “from the gods.”

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Construction was initially scheduled for 2007, but financial constraints delayed the project until 2010. The journey was marked by regulatory hurdles, approval processes, missed deadlines, and financing challenges.

Remarkably, the temple’s construction was funded entirely by donations from the foundation itself, without external support.

Berlin’s Indian people group has witnessed a significant influx in recent years, largely driven by opportunities in the thriving tech sector.

The towering “Amazon Tower,” located just three kilometers from the temple, symbolizes the city’s allure for young Indian professionals. Thousands have picked Berlin as their working environment, contributing liberally to the temple project.

Krishnamurthy acknowledges, “In the past five years, we have had a significant growth in donations. Young people are prepared to give generously.”

While the temple structure is finished, it awaits its most sacred inhabitants, the stone deities crafted in India. These figures are meticulously fashioned according to ancient specifications, a testament to the rich Hindu tradition. The temple will eventually house 27 such divine representations, each playing a unique role in the religious narrative.

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As November draws near, so does the eagerly awaited six-day Kumbhabhishekham consecration ceremony, timed to coincide with the Diwali festival of lights. Krishnamurthy is hopeful that by then, the temple will be ready to welcome the gods.

He emphasizes their belief in divine support and notes that December is Margasirsha, the “sleeping month of the gods” in the Hindu calendar, making it an inappropriate time for consecration.

Krishnamurthy’s vision reaches beyond the temple’s physical presence. He values the sense of togetherness and dialogue that the temple fosters.

Every day, about a hundred people visit the provisional prayer room, meditating and seeking blessings. Also, the temple has turned into an educational hub, welcoming 60 to 70 school classes each year, eager to learn about Hindu traditions.

Krishnamurthy’s pride reaches beyond the temple. He applauds the multicultural character of his Kreuzberg neighborhood, where diverse communities coexist harmoniously.

He mentions his interactions with the imam of a nearby mosque, a Protestant pastor, and even the Pope’s ambassador in Berlin. The temple’s location, nestled between Tempelhof, Kreuzberg, and Neukölln, reflects the city’s rich cultural tapestry.

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