President's Report – AGM 2020

First of all, I would like to thank members of Hindu Society for giving me the opportunity to serve you in the capacity of HSS president and also for giving me the able team of executives.

We have remained extremely busy executing many tasks related to the temple programs, building maintenance, improvement in security system and fundraising activities.

Apart from Sunday services and festival celebrations, the temple gives many services to the Community including Yoga classes, meditation sessions and “reflections on Hinduism talks, Hindi and Hinduism classes on Sundays, Lunch on Sundays after the service, participate in food bank program, hospital visits, multifaith, open house society involvement, Hosting students visits from University and High schools. Provides free facility to India Canada Cultural association to hold the Indian Consulate visits for the community of their OCI visa, passport or any other Immigration needs from Indian Embassy. We have a Hindu Faith leader at the University of Saskatchewan for religious and moral help to students, HSS also, helps sending many organization’s message through temple newsletters and emails

Maintenance and activities:

  • Temple interior and kitchen appliances were professionally cleaned.  We do inspection walk through the whole facility on Mondays to ensure the cleanliness, proper maintenance and safety. and the cleaning person is scheduled to clean the entire facility on every Tuesday.  The fridges are being emptied on every Tuesday and oil is thrown outside in Oil bin, to avoid any fire hazards.
  • Recycle bins were placed in the kitchen.
  • All the soap and paper dispensers are checked on a regular basis.  Supplies sufficient for few months are always being stored in the storage room.  HSS is buying the supplies from Enviroway, at a huge discounted price. Thanks to Bob and Sonia Behari for their kindness.
  • Facebook is being used to update on temple activities.  We have 1000 followers to our Facebook page.
  • Website is running great; thanks to our webmaster Harshal Patel for updating the website. temple history and other details are posted in the website. Thanks to Mrs. Maya Chakravarti (Mayadi) for leading this project. Thanks to Dinesh and Jay Patel for helping Mrs. Maya Chakravarti.
  • Lawn mowing and snow removal are outsourced for prompt service.
  • We completed fire inspection, health inspection, back flow report, gas inspection etc.
  • Regular Sunday service is going well and for the last five months we have started serving lunch after the service.
  • In addition, to our regular events and functions, we have also conducted Shiv Jaap, Sawan Somwar, Maata ki Chowki, Diwali Mela with fire works – which were well participated and enjoyed by everyone
  • We put Pitra Paksha bins for food bank – many devotees have donated nonperishable food and items for food bank.

Security:

  • For the past few years, we were paying $35 every month to ADT to secure the temple hall, but the installation was incomplete and temple was never armed.  We now got the installation complete and also extended the security service to the suite, Geeta Bhawan, and the open area. Smoke detectors were installed.
  • We had an incidence of theft in the temple one-night last year fortunately, no valuables were lost since then, we installed new locks and additional cameras.
  • The incidence was recorded by the security cameras. This incident was reported to the police. It became difficult to track all the keys issued in the past. Now we have an accurate record of temple keys. I would request all members that if you get keys for the rental purpose, please keep It secured and not share with any unauthorized person.
  • The telephone was upgraded to record and reply all the messages, as well a parallel connection was placed in the suite.

Building Upgradation:

  • Work is in progress to install new lights in the temple basement (Courtesy: Amit Dhawan)
  • Steps to basement hall (on one side) are upgraded from carpet to wood (Courtesy: Drs Suryavanshi and Drs. Vikas Sharma)
  • Few more new benches are ordered for use in the temple prayer hall (Courtesy: devotees).
  • Flowers beds were upgraded (Courtesy: Dr. Ramesh Tandon).
  • Broken concrete walkway at the entrance was replaced with non-slippery path Expense was donated by Mrs. Maya Chakravarty and Nawal/Leela Sharma
  • Four additional speakers were installed in the prayer hall (Installation courtesy: Mayur Patel and colleagues)
    Received a Harmonium donated by a musician from Toronto with efforts from Mr. Sunil Sohani.
  • LED Televisions were mounted and connected for an electronic display of weekly announcements
    Whole temple, office, basement and surrounding were painted before Diwali function (Expenses were donated)
  • We are in a process of addressing all the fire code deficiencies for building safety and to facilitate connection of fire alarms to the fire department. Connection of temple building with fire department is also mandatory as our fire code capacity is 300.

Renting the premises until March 2020

  • Since May 2019, the suite is rented to a very nice family from India.
  • One of our regular tenant group, ISSO, has moved to their own place. We wish them all the best. The other major group BAPS is continuing to use Gita Bhawan every Sunday and is paying a rent of $400 per week.  Increase in this rental from $250 to $400 has helped to offset the departure of ISSO group.  Saskatoon Sharbojonin Puja Porishod (SSPP) used once a month, also, during the Durga and Sarswati Puja.
  • We continue to rent the temple for many other occasions on a regular basis.

Outreach:

  • Under Vedanta Endowment Lecture Series, two excellent lectures were held at the temple and University of Saskatchewan.
  • Contact information of HSS has been updated with multifaith, open door society and other community organizations for prompt receipt of any information, bills and invoices.
  • The HSS faith leader at the University of Saskatchewan is Dr. Nawal Sharma and Vishal Jheengut has been appointed as representative to Saskatoon Health Region. We thank Mr. Asit Sarkar who had served as Faith leader for number of years previously.
  • In collaboration with other number of community organizations, we have conducted community activities and celebrations. For example Diwali Mela with India Student Association, participated in global peace prayers, the Indian Councilor’s camp with ICCA in Gita Bhawan to help community members for their immigration needs, Walk for Value with Sai center, Rath Yatra with Saskatoon Iskon, holding program with special community interest group of Brahmrishi Gurudeva from Tirupati and also speech by Swami Ken, special Pooja of Tirupati Balaji by Priests from Tirupati.

Our Annual Vegetarian Banquet on March 09, 2019 was well attended with over 600 people. The banquet was a celebration of our culture, heritage and food, showcasing our communities and our contributions to society at large.  As a chair of the banquet committee I thank all the committee members and volunteers for a fantastic job.

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19, we have to cancel Banquet 2020.

Mortgage/loan

I am pleased to announce that the Shri Lakshmi Narayan mandir’s mortgage has gone down to about $450,000 With the blessing of the Sri Lakshmi Narayan and the contribution from our generous devotees the HSS was able to meet the mortgage commitments. We encourage community members to keep donating in various way to reduce our mortgage.

It has been very busy and fruitful past few months. Once again, the Board is thankful to the community members who have donated funds for the above-mentioned projects as well volunteered their time.

Current executives and the board members

I am so proud of each of the board member for their hard work bring our community together and service to the temple in best possible way.

Amit Dhawan – As Vice-president, looking after the work while I am out of town, answering every phone call with respect and doing temple work. He is very efficient in doing his work and always available. He takes care of all the printing jobs for HSS.

Bhagya Lakshmi – As a Secretary. The temple and board are very fortunate to have such an efficient and organized secretary to maintain the meeting minutes and records.

Pragnesh Patel – As Treasurer, always doing work with great smiles, as you will see in treasurer’s report.
Our sincere thanks to Mr. Kalayana Venkatraman for helping with the temple accounts and finance. Even though, he is not a board member but has contributed no less than any board member in preparing the financial records. His passion for numbers and accuracy is admirable.

Jay Shree Babu – program coordinator – making duty roster and reminding everyone and helping with music and special functions.  Jayshree was in India for few months and we are grateful when Bhagya Lakshmi took care of her work.

Myhtili Venkatraman – Fundraising coordinator has done a lot for the temple.  She is very hard working, dedicated, and doing work with enthusiasm.  Main fundraising activities conducted were Food and Fun Fair, Walkathon, Devotional concert by Pandit Narendra Datar, Lakshmi Puja, Diwali Mela, Janmashtami celebration at Prince Albert (coordinated by Dr. Lalita Malhotra).

Neelam Chaukla – Facility Coordinator- has done a great job in keeping track of all of the facility requirements including regular paper supplies.

Satish Goyal – helps in many tasks as required. Has a great personality to work with.

Vishal Jheengut – Outreach Coordinator In- charge of the quarterly newsletter. Took the responsibility of getting rid of the mice in the premises.  He has developed safety precautions which are implemented while using the kitchen facility. During the COVID-19 helped applying for few grants.

Sunil Sohani – Took care of musical concert of Pandit Narendra Datar. Also, takes part in playing harmonium

Thanks to our volunteers

I am also thankful to several volunteers who took care of other programs including:

  • Dr. Braj Sinha and Dr. Suresh Kalagnanam for conducting the Hindi and Hinduism classes.
  • Mr. Bala Muthuswami and Suresh Kalagnanam for helping with various Pujas.
  • Mr. Om Kochar for Aarti preparation on every Sunday morning at the temple.
  • Dr. Punam Pahwa for conduct the Yoga
  • Religious-talk speakers on Sundays, Harmonium and Dholki/Tabla players.
  • Dr. Nawal Sharma for conducting Reflection of the Hinduism series of lectures,
  • Mrs. Maya Chakravarty for helping with Sunday lunch program and organized the temple with many volunteers, Miss Kiran Kalia, Mr. Gade and Ratna Reddy for helping in various tasks.
  • Dr. Lalita Malhotra for Janmashtami celebrations in Prince Albert.
  • I also thank the sponsors of our lunch program as well Black Pepper, Pardeshi Bazaar, Bombay spices, Dollar stores, Delhi Chaat, Angethi restaurant.
  • Pritesh Choksi for electric work
  • Jay Vishthama for the carpentry work.

COVID-19 Management

March 24th, 2020

Temple Sunday Services, Functions and Activities ,Yoga, vegetarian Banquet, April 4th 2020, Ram Navami function April 5th, Health-Seminar April 18th have been cancelled

From temple following events and effort been done to keep our community encouraged and engaged

HSS Facebook programs:

  • Om Mantra Meditation
  • Mahamrityunjaya Mantra Meditation
  • Nav-Graha Meditation- with lighting the Diya
  • Ram Navami Celebration
  • Hanuman Jayanti

Zoom Programs:

  • Weekly Sunday service – HSS
  • Reflection of Hinduism – HSS
  • Nav-Ratri Satsang – Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral from Calgary
  • Meditation on Thursdays – Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral from Calgary
  • Full Moon Meditation by Pandit Dabral from Calgary
  • Gita discussion on Mondays – Jayaji Majumdar from Calgary Chinmaya mission

HSS members involvement from out of town

On Zoom Sunday services

Telecommunication with the City of Saskatoon – for COVID-19 reports

Calls to our Seniors and others

Phone calls from the temple to our seniors been done to see how they are doing

Grocery helps to Seniors

Our volunteers helped many families and will keep helping, BIG thank you to our young Volunteers, for offering this ‘Seva ‘to our seniors

HSS COVID-19 RELIEF FUND

The HSS board created “HSS COVID-19 RELIEF FUND” to help International students Approximately 95 students for a month of groceries and also donated to Food bank at the time of need. We had requested to our generous members to contribute to this fund to help these students. We had a very positive response from our members. Our sincere thanks to Laxmi Patel of Bombay Spices and Rakesh Halari of Pardessi Bazaar for their help in arranging to deliver food parcels to students’ residences. We had very positive response from students and they were highly appreciative of this help from HSS. Follow-up phone calls were made to all the students to make sure everything is okay. We are having very positive response.

The donation has been received by E-transfer, cash and cheques. Many members left their cheques/cash in their own mail box and HSS volunteers picked up the donations from their mailbox.

Grants Applied

  • Saskatoon Community Foundation
  • Cameco Grant
  • United Way Saskatoon

Unfortunately, HSS did not qualify for any Grant!!

Thanks to Vishal Jheengut for leading these projects and Mr. Kalyana Venkatraman for helping Vishal.

Mortgage/Loan

As you all know that we have to cancel the temple Sunday services, rentals and Annual banquet
It was quite worrisome to pay the monthly mortgage and utility bills etc.

APPEAL TO DEVOTEES

I sincerely hope that, all of you have escaped the coronavirus infection, and have remained in good health during this difficult time. I would like to thank all of you who have offered their special prayers
for the well being of the community members.

As you all know that our temple has remained closed since last few weeks as per health advisory recommendation. We do not know as to how long this situation will continue. This situation creates real financial challenges for us to pay the monthly mortgage and expenses for the maintenance of the temple and Gita Bhawan. I am writing you the financial status for your understanding, so you can appreciate the present financial situation.

  1. We have lost the income from regular weekly Arti funds
    (Approximately $1000 a month)
  2. We lost income from major functions like Ram Navami!
  3. We lost the rental income from regular renters. (Approximately $3000 a month)
  4. This year the Annual banquet is cancelled. The Banquet raises significant amount of funds
    (approximately $20,000 to $25,000) for the temple, which takes care of yearly temple expenses
    (Utilities, insurance, cleaning, etc.)

This has created a shortfall, which we must meet to discharge our financial obligations.
Presently, the temple is getting income from only two sources, which is not enough to run temple smoothly and also, pay the monthly mortgage.

  1. Monthly pre-authorized income $2000
  2. The suite rent $1300

It is my humble appeal to all of you to come forward and make commitments to monthly donations big or small, within your capacity, so we can continue to provide the best service to the community as we have been.
Remember that, our scriptures tell us that, “In giving you receive”

Only income was the suite rent and the monthly pre-authorized deposits from the devotees. We also received some big donations from some devotees and the banquet money which was pre-collected, many gave to temple as donation.

In this situation, the board decided to differ the mortgage principle for 6 months and will continue paying the interest of about $1200 a month. This means the we extended the amortization by six moths. If situation improves sooner than we can start paying the principle any time sooner than 6 months!!
Remember, this loan, we can pay the lumpsum any time without any penalty

Thank you

Thank you to all the devotees for donating money for the temple, CovId-19 Relief Fund, and monthly pre-authorized. Our temple cannot run smoothly and provide help to the community without your help and support. Your generosity is very much appreciated.

Thank you for giving me opportunity to serve Shri Lakshmi Narayan temple and this vibrant community of Saskatoon. Also, thank you to my husband Nawal Sharma and my family for their incredible support.

Respectfully summited by

Leela Sharma