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A Brief History Of The Shrine

These shrines represent a dream of Dr. Pidara’s from his  childhood growing up in the small town of Raya, District Mathura, U.P. India,  between  1939 and 1946; There is a small Mahadeva temple behind the houses of eight  landowners of that town; He used to spend lot of his time alone in and around  that shrine and also in the Gopali temple;  Later, the family moved to the city of Mathura;  Swatantra Kumar Pidara finally moved to the USA in 1968; In; 1977 March,  he began to perform pujas, kathas and sanskaras to help the Hindu community.;  No charge was made for these services, but any contributions were kept  separately and dedicated towards his dream. He was guided and  encouraged in this endeavor by Swami Nisreyasananda of Ramakrishna Mission from  South Africa and Rhodesia. This continued until Swami’s death in 1991. Swami actually visited the site on Oct.20, 1990. In 1982, Dr. Pidara  looked for a small piece of land for the future shrine, and  found 3.2 acres of; land near  Collegeville.  Tom Scheetz, the building inspector, and Mr. Arthur King, the chairman of the Zoning Board gave him  proper guidance and helped when needed. Urged by Shri K.C.Tewari, a  devotee of Baba Neem Karoli and his own childhood mathematics teacher, Dr.  Pidara  purchased the land for $12000 from Mr. Charles Fridy in May 1984. The money  had been received without solicitations from 300 pujas between the years 1976-1984.The first contribution actually came from a Jewish coworker Laurie Levy  who took Dr. Pidara to the land in those early days. The Trust acquired the  non-profit corporation status in July 1982 in the state of Pennsylvania with the  help of Arnold and Janet Falk. Two Armenian ladies Ruth and Esther gave $3000  for the Trust. Zoning variance was received in April 1983. Attorney Roger Ashodian with the help from IRS agent Sylvia Pratt obtained the 501C (3) exempt  status in 1984. Montgomery County granted the tax-exempt status in Nov.  1997. In  March 2000, the Trust was granted the Church status by the IRS. Mr. Faquir C.  Mittal, Jyoti Ratnaparakhi, B.R.Shukla, Ira Mishra, Anil Wali, Jaipal Rathi and  Anant Shah ably served the Trust as the officers and the members of  the Trust during their years of active participation.

The first puja on the open site took place on 18August 1984. The next puja took place on 21s1 Oct. 1984. In March 5, 1985, it was decided to hold a puja  every month from May to Oct.    Hinduism classes were held at the house of Viswanath Pillai for three years. The first Newsletter was printed on 3rd  June 1982 and since that day about 4 or 5 Newsletters were published every year  containing material on religion, morals, ethics, history, myths, songs,  ceremonies and cultural outlooks of the Hindus. On July 31, 1987 a well known  saint and swami, Shri Swanandashrama Ji of Bolpur visited the site and  conducted a puja. On 23rd March 1993 at the behest of Shri  K.C.Tewariji, Avinash and Maiini Mude took the 10 inches  tall image of Durga in snow and conducted the installation puja. On account of  severe snow and absence of the octagonal shrine, the image was brought back and  the worship was carried out every day till its final installation. The image  was inaugurated after the Devi’s installation on Akshaya Tritiya day on 25th  April 1993. Two littlegirls, Richa Mishra and Hanna Mude performed  the puja under the guidance of the  priest Dr. Pidara. About 59 people attended the bhandam. Dr. Pidara had  already carved the Hanuman image  during this period, which was installed and inaugurated on Vijayadashami day on  24th October 1993. (The Hanumanji Murti was carved by hand in  clay by Dr. Pidara, and then later cast in Bronze.) Lakshmi and Vishu Pillai, Savita and Girish  Hatwal, Manorama and Dinesh Tewari, Kamana and santosh Katiyar, Alka Arun  Agrawal, Ranjana & Indresh Shrivastava, Lakshmi  Parth Khattri, Chandani ;  Shashi Dani, Ira Om Prakash Mishra and Borkar and Mukhopadhyaya families offered lots of ahutis in the  havan. In July 1999, the Hanuman shrine was built with Kalyan Som as the architect and Ron Rinker as the  builder and they dida good job. Swami Sathyananda Sarswathi of  Ram Das Ashram, Trivindram conducted a puja and blessed everybody’s efforts on 2nd  September 2000.  About six to eight pujas are carried out every year marking 25th  April as the Inauguration day, Guru Purnima in honour of Swami Paramananda  Maharaj of Rewari, Anant Chaturdashi day in honour of Baba Neem Karoli Maharaj,  Vijayadashami day in honour of Shirdi Sain, Deepavali, and the 23rd  November as the birthday of Sathyasain Maharaj.The plans have always been for developing  the place into a University and a hermitage. During all these years, lots of  people have been served by way of grants for their education and relief in their  hard times. Dr. Pidara told the Zoning Board that the money will not be raised  by usual tactics and will come selflessly by people seeking prayers, or through  ceremonies without any solicitation, or trustees selflessly helping people in  their sickness etc.