After a long journey, a full-fledged ISKCON temple is finally set to launch in Las Vegas, receiving its grand opening from April 26th to 28th, 2018, culminating on the auspicious occasion of Nrsimha Chaturdasi.
The story behind it is rather extraordinary. A Polish devotee couple, Surapala Das and Krishna Mayi Dasi, first took the leap to run a Hare Krishna center in this unlikeliest of cities back in 2002 from their home.
In 2012, businessman Radha Jivan Das from Alachua, Florida was so inspired by the idea that there could be a temple in Sin City that he mortgaged his own home to purchased a large house there to convert into a full-time center.
As momentum grew behind the project, the conversion was dropped in favor of building a full-scale temple on the property. Unfortunately, contractor bids for the elaborate design devotees provided were all at around $1.5 million, more than they could afford.
That was when, out of nowhere, came contractor George Boghos, who has built fourteen churches in Las Vegas, contributing to the city’s surprising recent boom of holy structures. Boghos offered to build the temple for $750,000, half the standard asking price, without reducing any of the quality.
In a recent Las Vegas Review-Journal article, Boghos, an Armenian Catholic, explained that he wants to support houses of worship for any faith. “I believe in the good book,” he said. “The good book says be nice to people … So if you’re Orthodox, if you’re a Protestant, you’re a Catholic. It doesn’t matter.”
Yet another miracle happened when devotees couldn’t secure a loan for the $750,000. A Mr. Avadh of the First Bank of Nevada, hearing about the temple, wanted to support his Indian heritage, and extended 100% of the loan.
After navigating through red tape to get the various required permits, construction of the new temple finally began in May 2016.
The resulting property, called “Govinda’s Sanctuary,” will be a peaceful oasis just five minutes’ drive from the famous Las Vegas strip, the airport, and the University of Las Vegas. It will be set on a one-and-a-half acre piece of land decorated with gardens and meditation spots.
The temple hall itself will be able to accommodate 300 people, will blend modern architecture with Vedic arches and domes, and will house beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Radha Govinda from Jaipur.
Meanwhile the property will also include a Govinda’s restaurant, yoga hall, gift shop, children’s playground, a few guest rooms and a 65-car parking lot. Guests arriving will be greeted by a “Welcome to ISKCON Las Vegas – Hare Krishna!” sign with neon lights, mimicking the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
Temple president Bhagavat Priya Das and all the devotees of ISKCON Las Vegas are extending a warm invitation to devotees from all over the US and the world to attend the grand opening celebrations this April 26th to 28th.
They hope many, many sannyasis, Prabhupada disciples, ISKCON leaders and other Vaishnavas will plan ahead and attend the historic opening of a temple in the city that just might need it most.
The festival will include an elaborate Deity installation ceremony with fire yajnas, and continuous 24 hour kirtan throughout the three days for the City That Never Sleeps.
There will also be a mega Harinama on the Las Vegas strip each evening, with one of the days also including a mini Rathayatra parade. After each public chanting event, there will be major prasadam distribution.
“Our goal is to spread the Holy Name in one of the most populated places on the planet, and of course to spread the word about our new temple, too,” says head priest and preacher Gaurnatraj Das.
Devotees attending the festival will be able to stay in the cheaply priced luxury hotels along the strip nearby.
Looking to the future, ISKCON of Las Vegas will continue to reach out to the public – currently, over 60% of the audience for their Tuesday “Chant, Chill and Eat” programs are local American people. Sunday Bhagavad-gita study programs and once-a-month Harinamas also provide inspiration, and weekly Harinamas are an eventual goal.
Of course, today Las Vegas is also an important business hub, with many major companies holding their conventions there. Thus, devotees from all over are regularly in town with their companies. Getting good vegetarian food, what to speak of Vaishnava association, has been a challenge in the past – but now, ISKCON of Las Vegas invites all devotees passing through to take darshan of the Deities, eat prasadam at Govinda’s, and find a warm home away from home.
Down the line, a full fifteen-room guesthouse is also on the cards, so devotees will be able to stay at the temple instead of at a local hotel. In the meantime, ISKCON of Las Vegas will partner with local hotels so that devotees can get cheap accommodations.
It’s an oasis in the desert that we can all look forward to.
ISKCON of Las Vegas needs help and financial support to complete the final interior designwork of the new temple. To assist, or to get more information about how ISKCON of Las Vegas can facilitate your stay, please email Gaurnatraj Das at email@example.com, or call him at 702-300-3411.[ las-vegas ]