In the late sixties, the need for community worship and hence a temple was strongly felt among people of Sri Lankan / South Indian origin, who had migrated from different parts of the world. The Hindu Temple Society of Canada was chartered in 1973 as a non-profit religious institution, with about 10 trustees, with the objective of building and maintaining a temple, following the Agama Sastras. For about 10 years, there was not much progress in the project due to various socio-economical reasons, but the members kept the idea of the temple alive by patient planning and ardent praying. With the surge in the immigration of large Hindu community in the eighties, land was bought in the town of Richmond Hill, north of Toronto.
Divine guidance and intervention made this possible. The site was consecrated in October 1983 and the ardent task of building a temple began, with the installation and consecration of Lord Ganesa at a temporary altar in 1984, which was later moved to a pre-fabricated building. It should be pointed out that for the first time, a Hindu Temple was built entirely through ‘Kar-Seva’ (volunteer labor) of men, women and children. A priest was brought from India to do the daily pujas.
In 1987-88, the main complex was designed and the construction commenced with lots of volunteers supporting the project, which resulted in significant cost reduction. The services in the main temple started with the installation of Lord Muruga in his present abode, on 2nd July 1988.
The overall design was done by the well known Mr. V.Janakiramana Sthapathi, who hails from the same architect family that built the famous Big Temple in Tanjavur in South India during the Chola period. He had designed and helped build the Temple with his team of sculptors, with consultations and advice from many religious experts and leaders including the Senior Sankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. The beauty and the greatness of the fine artwork are beyond description and can be appreciated only by a personal visit and experience.
In 1992, two vimanas (Altar Towers) were built on top of the altars of Lord Muruga and Lord Venkateswara and a ‘Vimana Kumbabishekam’ was performed in late 1992. The construction concluded with the Maha Kumbabhishekam on August 30, 2001.
The temple crossed yet another landmark on April 7th, 2002 when all 12 Azhwaars as well as Ramanuja were installed and consecrated in the temple, and thus became the first temple in North America to do so.
The Temple complex is said to be the largest Hindu Temple in North America built and run under the Agama Sastra traditions as specified in the scriptures. Additionally, the Muruga vighraha or idol is said to be the tallest Muruga idol in the world! Various festivals are being celebrated in the temple almost 200 days a year. There are six full time highly qualified priests engaged in the temple currently, in addition to a Manager and several other permanent staff. The temple is managed by an efficient board of Trustees, comprising people of various walks of life and professions.
Project’s Link: https://hindutemplerichmondhill.ca/