Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Inc. (Balaji Temple)

This profile was last updated in 2004

Description

The temple is situated on a 5.3 acre plot, with the structure located on top of a hill. The temple was built following an authentic style of the Chola Dynasty (10th century). Many master sculptors and artisans were brought from India to work and the design of the temple was from a well-known architect. The bottom level of the temple contains a large hall for cultural events, restrooms, a kitchen and a dining area. The worship area is located upstairs. When entering from the lower, parking lot entrance, one enters the hall with the kitchen, dining and eating areas to the left. Going right through a hallway, there is the temple manager’s office and an area where shoes are placed. One then proceeds up a flight of stairs to the worship area. When arriving upstairs, there is an entrance to the worship area where the majority of deities are housed. Covering the left and right walls are several carvings of various deities, male and female, with their names listed. The temple is modeled after the great pilgrimage site in Tirupathi, India and has the same main deity, Sri Venkateswara. To the right of Sri Venkatesvara is Sridevi and to the left is Sri Bhudevi. The goddess Durga is located across from Sri Venkatesvara. Laxmi, Vighneswara, Navagrahas, and Ganapathi are also located throughout the room. When leaving the worship area, just past the stairs, there is an entrance leading outside. This is the main entrance to the temple. There are a few deities located outside, including Hanuman. There is also a space for a ritual fire. The temple is open to all visitors. The temple manager is available to answer all questions and there are pamphlets explaining some facets of Hinduism.

History

The Hindu Temple of Atlanta is a non-profit organization founded in 1986. The temple itself opened in 1990, with all the deities becoming consecrated by 1992. Construction is still ongoing at the temple and more land will be acquired to house a separate community center. Before the construction of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, members in the area worshipped at other area temples or at home.

Demographics

Membership consists mostly of highly-educated, middle to upper-middle class, Asian Indian immigrants. Members tend to come from South India and all have a Hindu background. Women represent about 50 percent of participants.

Activities and Schedule

The Hindu Temple of Atlanta is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during daylight savings time and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during eastern standard time. Patrons can enter and pray anytime. There are scheduled rituals and pujas throughout the week and special events every month. On Sunday there are several different educational, religious and cultural classes. The temple holds festivals at various times during the year. Daily services include Suprabhatam, Nitapooja, Ganapathi Abhishekam, Aradhana, and Shayanotsavam; weekly Abhishekam of different deities occur throughout the week; extra rituals during the weekend; monthly rituals, events and pujas; languages, yoga, dance and educational classes on Sunday.

Researcher Credits

Amit A. Patel
May 2001