Topeka’s Hindu community soon will move into its first temple in the capital city.
In an email distributed Sunday afternoon, the Topeka Hindu Temple Committee announced the acquisition of a building at 2300 S.W. 30th that previously housed the Topeka Scottish Rite organization.
The single-story brick building is at the northwest corner of S.W. 30th and MacVicar, north of First Baptist Church.
Sam Nimishakavi, president of Topeka Hindu Temple Inc., said Monday that before acquiring the property, local Hindus often traveled to worship at a temple in the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee.
A local temple “has been a dream of many generations of Indians who settled in Topeka and will be a great gift for future generations,” Nimishakavi said. “Temples are a vital part of our life — they enrich our lives spiritually, culturally and impart values in our children.”
He said the temple will provide opportunities for Hindus to congregate, celebrate festivals and holidays, and teach children about their heritage.
Nimishakavi said the Scottish Rite building was listed for sale about a year ago and negotiations had been underway for more than nine months. The temple will provide a boost to local Hindus, he said.
“Temples are places of learning and reverence,” Nimishakavi said. “We would like to educate children in the community who are born here and society in general about Hindu culture and values.”
He said core principles of Hinduism include nonviolence and “treating the whole world as family.” Vegetarianism in Hinduism comes from the basic principle of nonviolence toward all beings, he added.
“This temple is not limited to Hindus,” he said. “It is open to any person from any background who believes in these core principles.”
He said the temple will be not only a place for worship and cultural activities but also the site of many charitable activities.
Nimishakavi said the Topeka Hindu Temple — like many other houses of worship — is registered as a Kansas nonprofit and is tax exempt for federal income tax purposes under Internal Revenue Code section 501 (c)(3).
An opening date for the Topeka temple hasn’t been set. Nimishakavi said there were a ” few operational things to be taken care of, like bringing in a priest and setting up a few things needed for services.”
The Topeka Hindu Temple also owns land at the southeast corner of S.W. 10th and Urish Road that was donated by Jitesh and Anila Patel.
Nimishakavi said the Topeka Hindu Temple still has plans to build at that site “at some point in future.”
“This will be a very expensive and time-consuming project,” Nimishakavi said of building a new temple. “With the funds we have, we were not in a position to build.
“In many U.S. cities where they have built Hindu temples, it took 10 to 15 years to build it. Luckily, we came across this building for sale for which we had enough funds. So the temple committee decided that we could go ahead and buy so that we have a place to congregate right away.”
He said the temple committee met for the first time on April 9, 2015, at the house of Swapna Mamidipally, a Topeka cardiologist, and “it only took us two years to realize this goal of having our own place of worship.”
The initial temple committee was composed of seven couples who pledged to support temple operations.
Nimishakavi said there are about 200 Hindu families in Topeka, many of whom are temporary residents.
Contact reporter Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/.