Indians Online Save NZ Krishna Temple
BY: SACHIN KALBAG
Mar 27, MUMBAI, INDIA (DNA) A Mumbai couple, now residing in Auckland, New Zealand, have gotten together with the local Indian community in Kiwiland to save a Lord Krishna temple from its NZ$1 million (Rs 2.8 crore) debt. Ketan and Lakshmi Patel, two management graduates from Mumbai, have constructed a website to auction a Lord Krishna painting through which the congregation aims to raise the NZ$1 million which it owes to ANZ Bank.
"The idea,” says Ketan, “is to ask 10,000 Lord Krishna devotees from across the world to pitch in NZ$100 (Rs2800) each.” The temple is managed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and was built in 2004 at a cost of $3 million (Rs8.4 crore) at a 100-acre farmland on the 1229 Riverhear-Coatesville Highway off Auckland. The website, www.iskconnz.com/1million, is online, and has begun receiving donations from Indian devotees. So far they have collected NZ$34,020.75.
The painting, by 33-year-old Ukrainian artist Dimitro Siriy, now christened Dina Bandhu Das in the ISKCON tradition, will be placed on a wall inside the temple’s main worship hall, measureing 4.17 metres x 2.82 metres. Says Lakshmi, “As far as we know, this is the only $1 million Krishna painting in the world.” For the project, the Patels were joined by ISKCON members Rasparayan Das, Vasant Koli, Roneel Naidu, Nikhil Maganlal and Peter Ho. The painting shows a fruitseller being rewarded with jewellry after she offers Lord Krishna fruits despite him dropping the grains he was supposed to barter.
Says Ketan, “We pay a NZ $7000 interest each month. It eats into our donations, and as winter approaches, the cost of running the temple will only increase. For instance, we have a feast every Sunday where we serve Prasadam to at least 600 people. We had to come up with an innovative idea to raise funds. A painting to auction seemed a perfect idea.”
He adds, “The temple also has a Hare Krishna school, a Gaushala, and an ashram for devotees living the temple. The costs could be better managed if we rid ourselves of the huge debt.” The Patels expect a huge support from the one lakh strong Indian community in New Zealand. “We have also pinned our hopes on strong Indian media support in Auckland and other cities which have a strong Indian connection,” says Ketan.
Ketan says making the temple debt-free has become important since the temple is fast becoming a central point for Vedic and other Indian cultural activities in New Zealand. “Approximately 700 devotees congregate at the temple for each event,” says Ketan. “For us, the temple is now a very important community centre.”
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