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Hindu and Jain Temple 22nd Anniversary Celebrations. Temple Historical Background

Hindu and Jain Temple (Mandir) invites the community to their 22nd-anniversary celebrations on Saturday, April 29th, 5PM-9 PM, at the Mandir’s expansive grounds. 

Spiritual Awakening, if any, and socializing with old and new friends are at NO COST.  However, for the first time, in Mandir’s history of anniversary celebrations, the temple management has decided to charge attendees $20 per person for food, children activities, entertainment and more. Monetary donations are highly encouraged and would be greatly appreciated.  

Background & Historical Perspective: 

In the early nineties, a few early settlers and active families from the Indian community floated the idea of having a Hindu Mandir for the growing Hindu community of Las Vegas.  The constructive brainstorming and ideas became a dream, ultimately embracing a plan for the local Hindu Mandir.  With that mindset and determination, the Hindu Society of Nevada was registered with the Nevada Secretary of State as a non-profit in September 1994. The first community meeting and fundraiser dinner was held at the Masonic Lodge in the mid-nineties.   At the meeting, the attendees had enthusiasm, passion, and determination to build the first Hindu Mandir in the State of Nevada.  Over 400 excited community members packed the hall and committed their financial and non-financial resources to support and develop the Mandir.  Although the tickets were only $50 per person, over $250,000 was committed that evening to move on with the project at the earliest. Seeing the enthusiastic support for the Mandir, the founders’ committee debated on acquiring land and location and whether the community should approach BLM for cheap land or buy the required real estate from the open market.  Around the same time, the master-planned Summerlin development was at the conceptual stage, and the current location, 5 Acre (net 4.25 acre), was acquired in March 1997 in the name of Hindu Society of Nevada for $297,000 from the Howard Hughes Corporation as the land was explicitly zoned for religious purposes.

With no zoning-related issues and all the permits and funding in place, the construction started with a groundbreaking ceremony in late 1999.  The dream came true in April of 2001 when the Mandir was completed, and the community came together for the three-day grand opening celebrations.  The grand opening festivities, along with Murthi Sthapana (placing of deities) services, were held from April 27th through April 29th, 2001, with over 600 community members in attendance.  The community was proud of having its own place of worship.

Four prominent and well-learned priests – Shri S. Krihnamacharyulu of Los Angeles, Shri S. Venkatachryulu of Pittsburgh, Shri Gopal Krihnamacharyulu (our former Pandit Ji), and Shri Bhanu Joshi of Las Vegas performed the religious services and blessed the temple and the attendees.  Some prominent local elected officials attended the grand opening, including the then Mayor Oscar Goodman and Congresswoman Shelley Berkeley.

Advertisement Placed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal/Las Vegas Sun – April 2001

On a side note, vegasdesi.com regrettably informs that Mr. Anil Gupta (first from left in the picture above) and Dr. Dipak Desai (now deceased) both have been declared felons due to their malicious, unlawful business activities.  Mr. Gupta served time in prison and resides in Canada, while Dr. Dipak Desai passed away at the federal prison while serving life imprisonment.  It’s high time that Hindu Mandir Board takes action to remove their name from the plaque at the temple entrance.

After one year in operation, the Board decided to organize a second fundraiser with door prizes, social hour, dinner, and entertainment.  The tickets were reasonably priced at $35 per person to encourage wider participation from the community which resulted in a quick sale of six hundred tickets.  One thousand raffle tickets were sold for $100 each for a brand-new Mercedes Benz raffle prize.  The raffle was controversial, and Ms. Rita Vaswani won the brand-new Mercedes Benz.  The second fundraiser also saw some Bollywood-style action – the verbal and almost physical fight between the two well-known community members (name withheld).  The clash of personalities and egos was seen before the beginning of blessing prayers by our Panditji. The cooler heads calmed down the two individuals.

Mandir Grand Opening Ceremony with then Mayor Oscar Goodman. April 2001

The third fundraiser – an optional black-tie dinner – started on a controversial note as the management, especially the then-board member Dipak Desai, raised ticket prices to $250 per person.  The fourth, fifth, and sixth fundraisers divided the community. The whole event was labeled as for the Physicians, by the Physicians, and of the Physicians, as the ticket prices were kept at $250 per person with platinum sponsorships going for $10,000.  The last formal fundraiser, held in 2006, brought in over $250,000 on a pretext to build a community center on vacant land at the Temple.  Architectural drawings were displayed to generate additional donations.  However, today, management has no sight or communication on the construction of any community center at the Mandir premises. Click here for the last formal (2006) fundraising pictures.  For the past couple of years, the Mandir administration has hinted at starting an annual fundraiser banquet.

After all the initial controversies and the beginning pains of infancy being gone, the Mandir administration was doing a decent voluntary service to keep the community engaged in Mandir activities.  However, the board room conflicts erupted again in 2018.  For the past couple of years, the weekly attendance has declined except during special events like the annual Dusshera Mela, Diwali, and other religious occasions.

With growing attendance during the earlier years and increasing demand for religious services on Panditji Gopal, the Mandir administration decided to hire a second priest to supplement the services of Panditji Gopal.  Panditji Brijesh Rawal joined the Mandir in 2012, which helped with the needs of the growing local and prosperous Hindu community in the valley and, at the same time, brought additional revenues for the Mandir.  After serving the Mandir for over 15 years, 2015 saw the departure of Panditji Gopal, who went solo with his own private Mandir in the Southwest area of the valley.  In 2016, the Mandir administration brought in Pandit Vishnuji, and the following year management hired a Manager to run day-to-day operations.

2018 was a disconcerting and tumultuous year in the history of the Mandir.  With the growing community and getting out of the early infancy years, the board members’ personality differences erupted into an internal board room war with accusations started flying.  After celebrating the 17th-anniversary celebrations and the appointment of the new Chair and the Executive Committee, the new team started with an optimistic exuberance; however, later in the year, the Chairman, Nirmalya Chatterjee, along with the majority of the members of the Executive Committee led by President Sunil Vasu, abruptly resigned.  In the interim, Ramesh and Neeru Piplani came forward and volunteered their services to manage day-to-day Mandir affairs.  Las Vegas Metro Police Department got involved and, in yearly 2019, completed its investigation on alleged break-in and unauthorized audio recording.  

The metro could not conclude or pinpoint any particular individual for the alleged break-in or who recorded the conversations inside the Mandir. No one was formally charged for any illegal activity. The reorganized Board appointed Amrat Patel as the new Chairman of the Hindu Mandir Board.  Simultaneously, the Board is committed to revising the archaic by-laws and standard operating procedures. The new executive committee for managing the day-to-day affairs of the Mandir was already in place under the leadership of Neeru Piplani, and started serving the local Hindu community.

Due to COVID disruptions, there were no anniversary celebrations in 2020 and 2021. After two year hiatus, in 2022, the management decided to hold the 21st-anniversary festivities. However, with no publicity and mismanagement, less than 21 attendees showed up at the Mandir. This year, the management team led by the new Board Member, Gopi Latpate, is focusing on bringing the community together to celebrate its 22nd anniversary with mela/carnival-type celebrations.

Festival Grounds Construction

On a positive note, under the leadership of incoming Mandir’s co-chair Gopi Latpate and general contractor Pravin Bakrania, have taken the arduous task of long overdue construction of festival grounds on the east side of the Mandir. The construction is in full swing, with paved grounds, a couple of raised stages, and a children’s play area. “We will get the construction done, hopefully before the 22nd-anniversary celebrations, and have enough space for attendees to enjoy the celebrations with food, shopping, and more,” said Gopi. 

However, the 22nd-anniversary celebrations have already caused disagreement among the community members due to the management’s decision to charge for food. FREE to attend, but NO FREE LUNCH.

Revision – Festival grounds construction will be completed before the anniversary celebrations. However, it will cost $20 per attendee to join in the festivities. After much deliberation, the management has decided to get away from the individual purchases of food items and charge a fixed amount ($20) per person. One price includes AYCE food, entertainment, children’s activities, and more.

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5 Comments to Hindu and Jain Temple 22nd Anniversary Celebrations. Temple Historical Background

  1. PRADIP I. BHATT says:

    Names of Dipak Desai and Anil Gupta should not be removed because without their invaluable financial, time and effort contributions HINDU TEMPLE WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED 🙏

    Hindu Religion preaches FORGIVENESS NOT HATRED! SO NO REMOVAL OF THEIR NAMES 🙏🙏

  2. PRADIP BHATT says:

    On a side note, vegasdesi.com regrettably informs that Mr. Anil Gupta (first from left in the picture above) and Dr. Dipak Desai (now deceased) both have been declared felons due to their malicious, unlawful business activities. Mr. Gupta served time in prison and resides in Canada, while Dr. Dipak Desai passed away at the federal prison while serving life imprisonment. It’s high time that Hindu Mandir Board takes action to remove their name from the plaque at the temple entrance.

    NEVER NEVER NEVER! THEY MADE HINDU TEMPLE TO BE BUILT WITH FEW OTHER INDIAN COMMUNITY LEADERS SUPPORT. THEIR PERSONAL PROFESSIONAL / BUSINESS ACTIONS DID NOT HARM THE TEMPLE MISSION AND REPUTATION …. THEY WERE PROCECUTED AND PUNISHED BY LEGAL SYSTEM ….

    HINDU RELIGION PREACHES FORGIVENESS AND NOT HATRED.

  3. SWETHA NAIR says:

    Thank you for the Article Vegasdesi.com in providing the Details of How this HINDU TEMPLE was Build. A Small group of people Had courage to come Together to Build a Community Temple for Us and we have To Respect That. How and What They DID is There KARMA.
    SO NOW How Its Mentained is a Different STORY.
    I have been Living in VEGAS for Over 18 year and I try to Visit Temple for the Darshan frequently. In the Past Few years Seems like Everything Has Changed and I Understand COVID Played a Big Role however All other Temple has Bounced Back with the same Service and Nothing Changed Except HINDU TEMPLE.

    I saw New Project that is Coming up and was Wondering about it. I was Told That it’s like a Memorial plague Who Ever wants to Sponsors, Looks Like this Place will Look like a CHURCH SOON. Come On Members Another Way of Making This HOUSE of Gods A BUSINESS Place. REALLY.

    I was Also Wondering About the LAST Paragraph on this.
    ***However, the 22nd-anniversary celebrations have already caused disagreement among the community members due to the management’s decision to charge for food. FREE to attend, but NO FREE LUNCH.

  4. Desi Ameri says:

    Anil Gupta didn’t contribute money, time, or effort when the temple land was bought and when it was being built. He was just a trustee, like any other. He was a habitual fraudster. His name should be removed.
    Is there a requirement in the temple constitution or bylaws that a convicted felon’s name should be removed from all the temple records? If not, the proper document should be amended.

  5. Peter says:

    NOW everyone is going to Gurudwara on Sunday because of unlimited food lunch with heart, respect and smile . Community is frustrated with experimentation with place of worship. If anyone wants to sponsor – he is harassed to the point that he stays away from pricks and sphincters. Soldier is made senapati is the issue. 1. Temple should be for everyone and to visit temple people donot have to pay forcefully. 2. People donate with heart and there are plenty of people wants to donate if they see a peaceful , welcoming, cultural and spiritual activities going on within temple. Now a time for membership $100/ yr with a swipe card to allow to visit 24/7 should be considered esp when technology is leading the way. Saturdays and sundays should have plenty of activities . If any spiritual activity is arranged should not be charged for renting the place. He / she can donate .

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