|Letter from Chairman|
1983:A dedicated group of volunteers met at Cleveland State University Atrium to discuss establishing a Hindu Temple in Cleveland. After months of discussion, the name of the temple, Greater Cleveland Shiva Vishnu Temple, was agreed upon.
1984: Sri J.L.Sharma chartered the temple with the State of Ohio with six founding members: R.Balu, Subbarao Cherukuri, Darshan Mahajan, Selvaraj, J.L.Sharma and V.V. Sundaram. The group needed $10,000 to start the operations. Darshan Mahajan guaranteed the money and opened the account in the name of Shiva Vishnu Temple at Premier Bank, Elyria.
1985: Rented the location of a closed restaurant at West 120th and Lorain Road. Sundaram donated Rama Parivar made of wood, and Sharma brought pictures of deities for conduction pujas, and the temple as we know it was born! The pujas were conducted by volunteers - Balu, Dattatreya, Sharma, Sundaram and Srinivasan. Gomathi Balu, Bhanu Srinivasan and Sumitra Dattatreya prepared the prasad most Sundays. About 4 weeks later, a newcomer to Cleveland, Sri Ramakrishnan who was well versed in the puja protocol joined the group, and started to perform the pujas regularly till 1989. The group started thinking about a permanent location for the temple. The first parcel of land they looked at was a 60 acre plot in Brecksville offered at $1,200. Alas, the price was too good to be true! The group learned that the low price was due to easement rights encroaching on the use of the land, and promptly dropped the offer. But, that did not stop this group of dreamers from developing a set of architectural drawings for the future temple. Sharma took the drawings to Kanchi Kamakoti Sankaracharya to get his blessings. Sankaracharyas even suggested building a temple for Rama, the forgiving God as opposed to Shiva and Vishnu, who require strict adherence to rituals! Sharma assured him that the group will be able to perform the pujas as required, and brought back the wooded model of the proposed temple.
The Broad of Trustees during the years 1983-85 had 5 members: Darshan Mahajan, Mahendra Patel, K.A.Rama Rao, Hansa Desai, and J.L.Sharma, with Carlee Mahajan acting as the Treasurer and J.L.Sharma being the Secretary. The priests duties were shared by Dattatreya, Jayaraman, Ramakrishnan and Srinivasan.
1987 - 1997: Kishore Shah joined this dedicated group of volunteers as Treasurer, and the group once again started looking for a suitable site for the temple on a permanent basis. They held high hopes for the parcel of land in North Royalton at the corner of State Road, not far from the present location, but as local residents' misconception about purpose of the Hindu temple caused that proposal to die. A short while later, the group found the present location in Parma with 22 acres of land and a burned out building. The structure was inspected and found to have potential for remodeling. More importantly the City of Parma and neighboring residents welcomed the temple and the group decided to make the offer of $200,000. At the time, the temple had net operating income of $2,000 per month and a bank cash balance of $28,000. The seller was kind enough and willing to accept $80,000 in cash (the group raised it in one week) and finance the remainder of $120,000 by himself. As they say, the rest is history!
The new home of Shiva Vishnu Temple was a completely burnt down building with nothing but dark black ash on all floors and walls. The unfriendly condition of the structure was no deterrent to the enthusiasm and sincerity of the devotees. On a cold blustery Sunday afternoon in March 1989, in sub zero temperature, the devotees along with the presiding priest, Sri Ramakrishnan, performed the Bhoomi Puja at the current premises on Ridge Road. The green and white board bearing the name of the temple was installed to start a new chapter in the growth of the temple. The remodeling task was extensive, with the entire interior redesigned at a cost of about $350,000. The parking lot was added in the year later. The temple inaugurated on September 10th, 1989.
Soon after the premises were remodeled, the idols and other items were moved from the West 120th street location to the new premises. Sri Jayaraman, Pagedar, Sampathkumar and Sharma helped move the items. Several volunteers, too numerous to mention individually helped decorate the premises. Idols that you have seen over the last few years were shipped from India. On an auspicious Sunday, after the regular puja, the first crate was opened. Lo and behold, Lord Hanuman was the first idol to be unpacked, a very good omen for all good things to come.
The inauguration of the new temple took place on September 10, 1989. It was a huge event with over 2,000 attendees coming through the portals of the new temple. It rained hard and the entire outdoor area was full of mud and water. Parking was minimal. Yet, people were happy to park in different locations nearby, and be transported to and from the temple. The priestís duties were performed by Sri V. Shastri, assisted by Sri. Gopinath from Nashville and of course, our own pundits.
From those humble beginnings, the temple grew to become a favorite place of the community to gather for worship, religious discourses, classical music, dance classes and performances. Today, we have three full time resident priests, who are constantly performing religious services at the temple premises and individual homes.
1997-1999: Feb'97 construction, 26th October, 1997 - Inauguration and Lord Ganesha installation (Murthy Prathishta or Sthapana). Additional Sthapana included Lord Shiva, Amba, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu, Radha-Krishna, Shri Nathaji, Lord Jagannath, Garudaji and Nandi. Information can be found in the web site. The year 1999 continued with Sthapana of Durga, Lord Ayyappan, Rama Parivar and Hanumanaji.
2000: The Sthapana of Lord Karthikey was performed on July 1 through 3 and it completes the Shiva Vishnu temple's both Mukhyadevalayas (prime altars) and Updevalayas (associated altars). In October, the covering of the Bridge was completed and started construction of Priest quarters.
2001: Completed the priest quarters and installation of gopurams(shikhar) along with their Kumbha for both Shiva and Vishnu Mukhyadevalayas. The Sthapana of Nava Grahas - deities associated with the nine celestial planets of our solar system within the cosoms will be upcoming. The details will be published when determined. It is our sincere hope and prayer that the new temple will continue to grow and provide the religious foundation for the present and future generations of our Indian community of Greater Cleveland. Please join us to make this dream come true.
Thank you and God Bless You!
Chairman, Board of Trustees