EDMONTON, CANADA, July 2, 2012 (Edmonton Journal): Canada's northernmost Hindu Temple will be built in Grande Prairie, Alberta. A sod-turning event was held June 29, 2012. For local dentists Dr. Nikhilesh Roy and his wife, Dr. Ratnaboli Roy, the temple is more than just a place of worship: it is a connection to their Indian homeland, and a gift to the community they now call home. "It will be like a window to our culture, our religion for the people of Grande Prairie and the surrounding areas," Nikhilesh said Saturday, one day after a sod turning event at the site. The temple will be open to people of any faith, and the Roys hope it will build cultural bridges.
Originally from West Bengal, India, the Roys arrived in Canada in the late 1990s. The family of four eventually settled in Grande Prairie, where they met about 20 other Hindu families without a place to worship. There are three Hindu temples in Edmonton, approximately 310 miles away. The families made the arduous trek often as a caravan, mostly in the winter months, to celebrate festivals and holidays with a community of Hindus.
It wasn't ideal, but their faith and culture were important to the Roys. Three years ago, the dentists and five other friends started talking about building a temple in Grande Prairie, where there are now nearly 40 Hindu families. They created the Grande Prairie Hindu Association and worked to make the dream a reality. They bought the land, got a development permit, hired an engineering company, received a building permit and on Friday had a traditional sod-turning ceremony to mark their intentions on the soil and bless the site.
The 1,380-square-foot building will include a temple on the main floor and a finished basement for meetings, receptions, and possibly yoga and Hindi classes for anyone who is interested. Though the design plans for the temple are modest because of a tight budget, Nikhilesh hopes to build on to the temple as the years go on.