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Construction nears on long-delayed Sikh temple

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A group of Sikhs who have been worshipping for years in a modified house in Greenwood should finally see construction start on their new temple this fall.

The congregation has had services in Greenwood since 2007 and has tried to make plans for a new temple to be built on their property almost since they began meeting there, city officials said.

The Indian group now expects temple construction to start in September and be completed in nine months to a year, Chanchal Singh, a member of the temple’s construction committee, said.

Their current facility doesn’t have fire safety features required of buildings where large groups gather, Greenwood senior planner Bill Peeples said.

Details on the project

New temple: The Sikh congregation of the Gurdwara Shri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji plans to build an 11,232-

square-foot temple.

Who are the Sikhs: They practice Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in India.

The project: Construction of the new temple is expected to begin in September and finish within one year of its start. Cost estimates for the project haven’t been finalized, since the building designs aren’t finished, but the temple should cost around $1.7 million to build.

Where: 1050 S. Graham Road, Greenwood

Those features, including doors that swing outward and lit exits, will be included in the new temple’s designs, he said. The group’s current building has an about 30-foot-wide addition on it that was built without getting any city or state permits, and the city has asked repeatedly for the congregation to tear it down, he said.

The plans for the new temple will meet city codes, Peeples said.

Over the past five years, the city has seen at least three site plans for the temple. The group has changed plans when it has changed leadership, which has delayed the project, Peeples said.

The temple is expected to cost between $1.5 million and $1.7 million to build, but no final estimates are available yet, Singh said. The congregation plans to raise part of the costs in donations and pay for the rest with a bank loan. At services, people are asked to donate toward the project, with a greater push now for funding because construction will start soon, he said.

Currently, 400 to 500 worshippers gather weekly for Sunday services and some go to the building during the week for morning and evening prayer. Their current building, a 4,782-square-foot house, doesn’t always have space in its main gathering area for all of the people attending services, Singh said.

The Sikhs are using the home’s kitchen as an overflow area for people to stand in when they can’t fit in the gathering room during services. And members of the

temple have had their wedding ceremonies in Indianapolis because the house doesn’t have the room, he said.

The congregation has grown from about 200 people in 2007 to about 500 now. The new temple will be big enough for weddings and also will allow for the congregation to continue to grow over the next 10 years, Singh said.

“Oh, this is good for us. We have been waiting for some time to make things nicer, more spacious, more comfortable,” he said.

The single-story building will be 11,232 square feet, considerably larger than the size of the house and its additions, he said.

The new temple will be built on the same 8-acre property as the current Gurdwara Shri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji, which is at Graham and Allen roads on the east side of Greenwood. The congregation got permission from the city this week to start preparing the site for building a parking lot and putting in utilities, such as sewer pipes.

The hope is to have architectural designs for the building finished this month, Singh said. The church next has to get Greenwood and the state to approve its building plans.

The city has approved more than one site plan, Peeples said. The temple’s construction committee is made up of members of the Gurdwara Shri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji who are in charge of making decisions, including designs, for the new temple. Design changes, a soil analysis test and changes in temple leadership have caused delays since they began planning the temple in 2007, he said.

The design will resemble Sikh temples in India, said project architect David Julian with Design House Inc. in Greenwood.

The type of temple the group wants would have a couple of domes in the center of the building and minarets, or tall spiral structures with onion-shaped crowns on top of them, at each of the four corners of the building. The members of the construction committee got their inspiration for their new temple from temples in Ohio and in Canada.

After the temple opens, the congregation will continue to use the house on the property for some gatherings and as a home for the temple’s priest, Singh said.

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