SALT LAKE CITY — Tucked into a neighborhood in south Salt Lake City, a new Hare Krishna temple is beginning to carve out its niche in the Salt Lake City faith community.
Unlike the ornate Sri Sri Radha Krishna Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork that draws thousands of visitors each year to its culturally rich Hindu celebrations, such as the Festival of Colors, Lama Fest and Festival of Lights, the new Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple is housed in a simple, one-story building that used to be a Seventh-day Adventist church.
And while the Spanish Fork temple has become a known and respected cultural center with its festivals, temple priest Caru Das Adikari said Salt Lake City is a location he's had his eye on for a while.
"In Utah County, it's 90 percent LDS, so their spiritual dimension is being catered to there," he said. "We've always made it in Utah Valley, but at the same time we've acknowledged that in Salt Lake there are more uncommitted people in that they don't have a spiritual foundation, so there's a greater need."
The building sits on four acres of grassy land, and Adikari said he has plans to expand the building they've settled in.
"We do want to build a temple on the world-class level and on this land there's plenty of room," he said, adding that the lack of an access road behind the land will be an obstacle, so the project may be four or five years down the road.
The temple opened its doors July 23, and since then it's been hosting events, such as concerts and dramas, on the stage that was renovated after the building was bought.
"When we had our first public event last Saturday, we had a huge crowd," Adikari said. "It was bigger than we ever expected. We renovated the auditorium and gave it a new sound system, so there will be even more opportunities to have stand-alone bands and dramas not attached to festivals."
Among the other events and amenities the new temple offers is an extensive variety of yoga classes. While the Spanish Fork temple gives a handful of classes each week, the Salt Lake temple is finding a niche in the yoga-friendly community.
"This yoga community we're trying to build around the temple will be open to everyone. Anyone can come," said Santosh Maknikar, a yoga teacher at the temple. "We want to reach out to people."
Maknikar, along with dozens of other yoga teachers, is involved with the upcoming Yoga Fest to be hosted at the temple over Labor Day weekend. The event will span three days and cost $25 for access to more than 30 yoga classes, seminars and workshops.
"Yoga is becoming very popular and expensive also, so it's kind of getting at such a level that those who need it don't have money to do it," Maknikar said. "We know that if we create this platform for all these people, we'll reach out and help those who need yoga."
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the opening of the new temple. In a news release, Zed said he hopes Hindu spirituality and traditions will help center community members find liberation and realization of self, and Adikari agrees.
"Whether you're Catholic, Muslim or Hindu, if you're not realizing God made you a unique, amazing individual, you could be taking up space without any real purpose," he said. "God emanates life and is the force behind the universe."
For more information on the temple and festivals, visit utahkrishnas.org.