The history of Hindu Society is traced back to the 1960’s , when some of the immigrants came to United States of America from India. With the memories of their motherland and its rich culture in their hearts, some families started meeting in their homes in the name of Lord Krishna. They formed a Gita Society and met once a month at the home of a host family. They shared the recitation of Bhagvad Gita, bhajans, kirtans and speeches on religious subjects. Lunch/Parsad was served at the end of about two hours religious program. Gita Society was officially incorporated with State of Illinois on Feb. 19, 1968 under “General not for profit Corporation Act”.
The Board members in 1972 decided to change the name from Gita Society to Hindu Society and a new constitution was prepared. At a meeting of the members held on Feb. 11, 1973, the name of the Gita Society was changed to Hindu Society. A new constitution was approved on this day with two basic objectives:
These changes were made to broaden the scope of activities of the Society to celebrate various important Hindu festivals and to increase the membership base. But the basic objectives and characteristics of the Society remained unchanged. Teachings in the philosophy of Bhagvad Gita and worship of Lord Krishna have been the basic principles of the Society.
In 1960’s meetings were held in homes of host families. In 1970’s meetings were held in rented public halls. From April 1974 to March 1987 meetings were held in Stevenson Recreation Center at Lake and Taylor street in Oak Park. In April 1987 Hindu Society held its first meeting in its own temple building, Hari Om Mandir at 6N020 Medinah Rd., Medinah, a dream come true after years of hard work and planning. There were about ten sites/buildings, inspected, studied and investigated before the purchase of the present building in Medinah.
This building had built-up area of 2,500 square feet at basement and upper floors, with a lot size of about 2.12 acres. The original purchase price was $225,000 and an additional amount of about $125,000 was spent on improvements of the building, paving the parking lot, landscaping, renovation of bathrooms and kitchen, and construction of domed entrance in the front over stairs. After the mortgage loan and all these improvements were paid up with generous donations from devotees, a building committee was formed to undertake the expansion of the temple. The construction of the expansion started in Aug. 1998 and was completed in Aug. 2000. The expansion has resulted in a magnificent improvement and addition to the existing facilities. It has more than doubled the space on both the floors (5530 sq. ft. each floor), provided a priest apartment and spectacular area for all the important deities of the Hindu religion. Pranpratishtha ceremonies were performed over six days and completed on Aug. 23, 2000 Janam Ashtami day, the most sacred day, for Vaishno Devi Mata, Radha Krishna, Ram Darbar and Shiv Panchayat. The construction of the expansion, the renovation of the existing building, marble Parikarma and the installation of murtis of deities cost about $650,000. The expansion of the temple at such a marvelous scale has brought the devotees great joy.
Introduction of Devi Jagran programs in 1998 has brought great significance to the Hari Om Mandir. Unparalleled devotion to Durga Mata by the devotees has been a major factor in the expansion of the temple. Due to popular demand, religious programs are now conducted every Sunday (since Jan. 2001), and the temple is kept open every day.
Devotional Bhajans and Kirtans are performed on regular basis. Classes for children are held to provide opportunity to learn about Hindu religion and Hindi language. Religious and spiritual discourses by renowned speakers and Swami’s are arranged occasionally.
Lectures and other programs given by religious leaders from India and other countries provide in depth knowledge about various Hindu scriptures and traditions.
Most of the important festivals of Hindu religion and cultural events are celebrated every year. Janamashtami is celebrated in observance of Lord Krishna’s birthday. Ramnaumi is celebrated with Ramayan Akhand Paath in observance of Lord Rama’s birthday. Also Ramyan Akhand Paath is performed in celebration of Deepawali; to celebrate return of Lord Rama with Sitamata and Lakshman to Ayodhia after 14 years in exile. Shivraatri is celebrated to seek blessings of Lord Shiva for happy married life. In addition some cultural events are celebrated with great enthusiasm e.g. Lohri, Baisakhi andYouth Night etc; with participation of children of all ages.
Senior citizen meetings are held once a month to provide opportunity to the senior citizens of Hari Om Mandir to share their valuable experiences of life. They also help the children to improve their knowledge about Hindu religion. In March 2001 Sprint Co installed a cell tower. This has improved the revenue base of Hindu Society. Landscaping of outside grounds was also completed in 2001 with sod and mulch. Drawings for a new kitchen have been prepared and construction will start soon. Improved kitchen equipment will enable us to prepare prasad for large gatherings on the premises. There are many other improvements in the planning process and will be completed on an ongoing basis to improve services to the devotees.
Another milestone occurred in the history of Hari Om Mandir on August 19, 2001 with the installalation of Murtis of Shri Ganesh, Shri Hanuman, Santoshi Mata, Maha Kali Mata, Shani Dev Maharaj, Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi Devi in the Parikarma area with sacred ceremonies on Janamashtami day. Also marble pillars with intricate designs, all imported from India were installed on the same auspicious day. On Aug. 30, 2002 Pranpratishta ceremonies were performed for wall Murtis of Shri Hanumanji (sindoorwali); Mata Saraswatiji and Shri Ganeshji (at the entrance gate). The constitution of Hindu Society is being updated after nine years with significant changes as proposed by the members to improve the functions of the temple.
With the blessings of Lord Krishna, Lord Rama and Durga Mata, we look forward to enhance the amenities at the temple in every respect to meet the spiritual, religious and social needs of the devotees.