Concord’s Shiva Marugan temple breaks ground in elaborate ceremony

In a day-long celebration replete with religious rituals, Concord’s Shiva Murugan Temple broke ground Jan. 26 for a new Shaivite Hindu temple at Concord Boulevard and Second Street.

An estimated 2,000 people attended the Vastu Puja as the temple priest, the local architect and the general contractor placed six bricks comprising the foundation stone in the ground at the northeast corner of the future 7,000 sq. ft. building. The temple’s Sthapati, a UNESCO recognized expert on Hindu temple archaeology, describes the location of the stone as the place where the “sole of the foot” would be and the main sanctum as where the “embryo,” or the life, would be. The builders will not disturb the stone during construction.

“It is there for posterity,” explained Meena Annamalai, director of temple construction.

The temple front faces Second Street. A second, smaller building will house an auditorium, kitchen and dining rooms.

“One of the many things that I love about Concord is its cultural diversity,” said Concord Mayor Carlyn Obringer, who was joined at the groundbreaking by Vice Mayor Tim McGallian. “I am glad to have this faith community in Concord and look forward to the building dedication.”

The temple design team worked with the Concord Design Review Board for two years before gaining final city approval. The Sthapati’s first designs focused only on the beauty of the main temple, leaving the side facing Concord Boulevard plain and unadorned. But the Design Review Board wanted the temple to look beautiful from the Concord Boulevard side as well.

“Our Sthapati could not comprehend why we would want to beautify the side view,” Annamalai said. The local architect, Sharad Lal, tried in vain to explain the city’s requirement to the him.

Finally, Dr. Dakshinamoorthy Sthapati visited the site in person.

“After we led him over to the sidewalk on Concord Boulevard, he understood that it is a main street and came up with this exquisitely beautiful, two-story design,” Annamalai said.

The Shiva Murugan Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his son, Lord Murugan, who, according to Hindu belief, were known for destroying the sins of ego and arrogance. Followers established the temple in 1957 in San Francisco and, according to temple historians, it was likely the first Hindu temple in North America. By 1988, the small building in San Francisco could not accommodate a growing Hindu community, and they moved the temple to the Concord corner. They chose the site in part because it had always been a place of worship.

The architect, contractor and engineers are all local companies. Sculptors from India will do the specialized work. The construction will take about two years.

“We take pride and joy in the fact that beautiful Concord has been inclusive and welcoming of our temple,” Annamalai said. “It warms our hearts and gives us a special kind of joy.”