A new office for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium – ISKCON’s upcoming flagship center in Mayapur — has opened in Alachua, Florida. The office will locally process North American donations, maintain good relationships with donors from last year’s North American TOVP fundraising tour, and make sure that their contributions are properly managed.
The building is located in the town of Alachua near Krishna.com and Yadubara Dasa’s film studio, and officially opened on Friday April 15th. Some twenty devotees who had assisted in getting the office established attended, including TOVP chairman Ambarisa Das (Alfred Ford) and his wife Swaha Dasi, local Governing Body Comissioner Sesa Das, realtor Kirtiraj Das, and TOVP’s head of international fundraising Braj Vilas Das.
The opening event was designed to honor the devotees, and ask for Srila Prabhupada’s blessings on the new venture. In a small two-hour ceremony, local priest Ramanya Das performed puja and a fire sacrifice to invoke auspiciousness, while the assembled devotees chanted Hare Krishna.
A fire sacrifice invoking auspiciousness for the opening is preformed in the kitchen of the new TOVP office
Prasadam sweets were passed out, and Ambarisa, Swaha, Kirtiraj, Braj Vilas and others spoke. “All the speakers expressed their deep appreciation of the hard work the Alachua community did to help set the office up in such a short amount of time,” says Ambarisa. “They also expressed that they were very happy to be helping with the TOVP project.”
The new building includes a reception area, several individual offices, and storage facilities. It is currently staffed by former Mayapur resident Karnapur Das and Vegavati Dasi, both disciples of Srila Prabhupada. They will keep relationships with U.S. donors fresh, mail them thank-you gifts, and manage monthly recurring donations. Later, regional thank-you dinners will be organized around the country.
“It’s important for the U.S. to have its own office, because it’s such a large country, with so many ISKCON temples and leaders,” says Ambarisa. “There are also many donors who send contributions via PayPal or through direct debit from their bank accounts, so it’s a complicated operation.”
Ambarisa wants to reassure donors that everything is in good hands. “We want them to know that the new office is now up and running, and is well-managed by experienced and responsible devotees,” he says. “So they should feel very secure about donations they have previously sent or are now sending. Everything has been accounted for, and there have been no disruptions in either the fundraising or the construction – which is going full-steam ahead.”
Indeed, the superstructure and domes of the 520,000 square-foot temple – which will stand 370 feet tall at its highest point (higher than the Taj Mahal) – have been all but completed. Finishing work is now underway. “They’re working on the Kalashes, the ornate structures on top of the domes,” says Ambarisa. “The main dome’s Kalash alone is six storeys high.” The domes are expected to be completely finished next year, followed by work inside the temple.
In addition, new members of the exhibit committee including author Yogesvara Das will help plan the exhibits under the main dome, as well as in the planetarium wing under the directorship of Jayapataka Swami. The Deities of Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Pancha-Tattva, and Lord Nrsimhadeva are expected to move into the temple at an as yet-to-be-determined date in 2022, along with an opening day for devotees.
A grand opening for the general public will follow later, after the external finishing touches, including landscaping and gardens, are completed. Ambarisa, who has contributed at least $30 million personally to the project, feels that things have been going along at a good clip for such a unique, specialized construction: plans were approved by the GBC in 2006, and construction began in 2009. He hopes this pace will continue.
But no matter how long it takes, he’ll always remain enthusiastically dedicated to the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. “Srila Prabhupada gave me this service to do for him, planting the seed in my heart in 1976 in Detroit,” Ambarisa says. “I’m 66 now, and me and my family have made it our life’s mission to make sure that this temple is completed. There’s really nothing else I would rather be doing.”
* * *
Watch the latest videos about the TOVP progress here: https://tovp.org/media-gallery/videos/
For general donor information and the Paypal portal, please click here: http://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/
You can also set up EFT recurring payments directly with your bank by visiting your bank’s online portal and using the following bank details from the Alachua TOVP office:
Bank Name: Capital City
Bank Address: 15000 NW 140th Street, Alachua, FL 32615
Account Name: TOVP Foundation, Inc.
Bank Account Number: 10000100957
Routing Number: 063100688
Checks can also be immediately sent to the Mailing Address below (not the Physical Address).
TOVP Office Physical Address:
TOVP FOUNDATION, INC.
13901 NW 142 Ave. Alachua, FL 32615, USA
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office
Manager: Vegavati devi dasi
U.S. Coordinator: Nandini Kishori devi dasi
TOVP Office Mailing Address:
TOVP FOUNDATION, INC. PO Box 609 Alachua, FL 32616, USA