Economic Downturn Delays Plans for Hindu Temple

November 15, 2008

Author: Jean Torkelson

Source: Rocky Mountain News

One man has a mission to help disabled military veterans. Another envisions thousands of worshippers coming to a place they can finally call home.

But the nation's economic struggles have forced both men to put their plans on hold. Their organizations, among the more than 19,000 nonprofits in Colorado, are not unlike millions of households in America that are watching their budgets, fretting about the future.

It's a difficult and frustrating situation, especially for those who want to help others, and it plays out in large and small ways throughout Colorado as the ripple effect from a struggling economy damages long-held plans.

Here are two stories of people who must wait, watch and worry as they see their dreams - and in essence, the dreams of others they want to help - deferred.

'Give me some more time'

On a blistering hot June day in 2007, more than 100 Hindus held a party and a sacred blessing in an empty field in Centennial. The future, and the economic times, looked as bright as the colorful Indian attire many wore.

By the end of 2009, they expected the field would be transformed into a lavish, 19,800-square-foot Hindu Temple and Cultural Center, serving Colorado's growing population of more than 5,000 Hindus.

"We had all taken risks to come (to America)," said Narender Kumar, a civil engineer who immigrated to the U.S. in 1969 and owns Kumar & Associates Inc.

Now, he and other leaders of Colorado's Hindu families - educated and well-to-do in the fields of engineering, oil and gas, technology and medicine - felt the time had come to risk seeding a major project.

"And that galvanized the rest of the community," Kumar recalled.

By the time of the big party, hundreds of donors were listed on a fine marble plaque displayed on the party grounds.

The toughest part seemed over: The city of Centennial was welcoming and zoning issues were briskly resolved. Against taking on debt, leaders saw little trouble raising the entire $3 million to $5 million.

Then came the economic swoon of 2008. This year, just $200,000 in pledges has come in - less than one-third of last year's total donations.

"The proof of the pudding is writing the check, and people are saying, 'Give me some more time, my business is not doing well,' " said Kumar, who is vice president of the new temple committee.