Hindu Temple Burnaby moves into spacious new property as congregation grows

The North Burnaby Hindu congregation, one of Canada's oldest, first gathered in a converted church in 1972 — but now worshippers are moving to brand new facility to accommodate their growing numbers.

'It’s a long, long dream and now we have fulfilled our dream,' says board member

The congregation's new temple is on Marine Drive. (CBC)

After 45 years at the centre of a growing community, one of Canada's first Hindu temples is closing down.

The congregation of Hindu Temple Burnaby is now simply too big for the old, converted church near the intersection of Boundary Road and Hastings Street.

"Every day new immigrants are coming here to British Columbia, and especially Vancouver, and we need bigger space," said board member Nutan Dhakur.

"It's a long, long dream and now we have fulfilled our dream… we all are very, very happy."

Temple leaders say when the faithful move to their new temple, they will have one of the largest in North America.

It will boast about 33,000 square feet of floor space and can host 800 worshippers.

It will also include a library, classrooms, a yoga studio and a banquet hall that can hold weddings and other ceremonies and events.

Satya Parkash is the high priest of Hindu Temple Burnaby. (CBC)

'The main foundation was Diwali Festival'

Devendra Goel says 45 years ago, there were few Hindus in B.C.

He says he was among a handful of those at that time who got together to buy the old church, which served them well for decades.

"The main foundation was Diwali Festival," he said of those days. "Since then, it's like a heritage building. In this building we had, in the beginning, very few people. But now our membership is a good membership and we are celebrating all the main festivals."

"It has traditions, a heritage, it was cozy," said another devotee, Aron Garg, who has been coming to the temple since 1972. "You knew everybody. It's like a family, an extended family."

Leaving the 45-year-old temple for a brand new facility is a bittersweet moment for many in the congregation. (CBC)

New temple almost finished

A temple official said fundraising for the new temple on Marine Drive began about six years ago.

On Sunday, workers were seen putting on some of the final touches, affixing marble facades to columns, hauling out buckets of gravel by hand and rolling in handcart after handcart of kitchen supplies in milk crates.

Bushpanjli Matheroo (left) and Nutan Dhakur are both officials with the temple. (CBC)

Sunday was also the last day the congregation would use the old building, and dozens were gathered for worship as music and singing reverberated through the building.

"Our dream has come true, so you can imagine how happy we are," said temple official Bushpanjli Matheroo.

Temple official Vikas Gautam says the old building has been sold and is expected to become a church once again.

Members of the congregation gathered one last time on Sunday before moving to their new temple. (CBC)

With files from Deb Goble