Sudbury has a fascinating history. It is located a little less than 400 kilometers northwest of Toronto. The drive from Toronto to Sudbury takes you through the rugged scenery of Canadian Shield, where almost every view resembles a painting by Canada’s group of seven. In 1883, blasting and excavation of the Canadian Pacific Railway revealed a high concentration of nickel-copper ore. During the next century, the riches of the land attracted people from all over Canada and the world. People from different ethnic backgrounds have shaped this region’s multicultural fabric.
Like Sudbury, the “Sudbury Prarthana Samaj” also had a very humble beginning.
It all started in 1974, when Dr. Yogendra Sadana, who was well versed in Hindu philosophy and religion, approached Professor Parmeshwara Visvanathan to have prayer meetings at his house. Professor agreed and started once a week meetings every Tuesday at his house. By 1975, approximately 25 to 30 Hindu families of the East Indian ancestry became interested in joining the prayer sessions. These families had a dream to have a place of worship of their own, where they could connect with one another, practice and celebrate the richness of Hindu faith, customs, and traditions, and where their children could learn about religion, culture, and their identities as Hindus.
By 1976, their dream became a reality and the informal meetings at home culminated into the creation of “Sudbury Prarthana Samaj” under the leadership of Dr. Y. Sadana. The goal of Sudbury Prarthana Samaj was to practice and perpetuate the philosophy of Hindu religion, bring people of the same faith together, provide a forum for scholarly discussions of the Hindu philosophy, conduct and sponsor religious and cultural activities for the benefit of the Hindu community, and eventually establish a library to preserve and embellish Hindu traditions and cultural heritage, teach its younger members the history and development of the Hindu philosophy and religion, and to inculcate a pride of their heritage.
The very first executive committee consisted of Mrs. Sulochana Venugopal (President), Mrs. Shanta Mahant (Secretary), Mr. Dev. Mehra (treasurer) Mrs. Asha Mujoomdar, Mrs. Santosh Khurana, Mr. Ramesh Mahant, and Mrs. Rashmi Garg (members at large), and Dr. Y. Sadana (Devotional leader).
Initially, prayer sessions were held every other Sunday from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM at the residences of volunteers. There were two suitcases, which were carried by the host family (one suitcase consisted of pooja essentials such as idols, special table cloth etc., the other one consisted of clean sheets to spread on the carpet.) Dr. Y. Sadana took the role of a poojari and conducted the pooja sessions based on Sanathan Dharma. He continued to deliver these sessions for at least 20 years until he moved to India. Special attention was given to children; they were encouraged to sing bhajans, read stories of Indian mythology, and actively participate in pooja sessions. Generally the host families provided the "prasad" followed by light lunch.
A hall was rented to celebrate the major festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali. Food was always an integral part of every celebration and was prepared by the devotees. Children organized a cultural program of dance, drama, and skits, all based on Hindu philosophy. All children in the community were encouraged to participate. Such participation helped them to learn major stories of Hindu mythology, cultivate confidence in performing on stage, and improve their public speaking skills. In the beginning, Mr. and Mrs. Vishnu Pada were instrumental in preparing the children for these functions. Currently, Mr. Niranjan Mishra, Mrs. Nalni Mishra and Mrs. Asha Sharan have taken a job as cultural co-ordinators.
In 1978, the first constitution and guidelines of the organization was written and approved Dr. Y. Sadana and the members. An application was made to register Sudbury Prarthana Samaj as a charitable organization under the Income Tax Act, with Mr. Dev Sarin (President), Dr. K.H. Singh (Vice President), and Mrs. Rukmoni Sadana (Secretary and Treasurer) as the executive members.
In 1980, Sudbury Prarthana Samaj received a charitable status. By this time, the membership of the organization grew exponentially and it became difficult to hold prayer sessions at member’s residences. The executive committee started renting a hall in a school or college for this purpose.
In August 1986, a property at 485 Mclean Street (the current location) was purchased for Sudbury Prarthana Samaj. Dr. A. Mathur took the initiative to raise funds to purchase and renovate the building. In 1987, the Sudbury Prarthana Samaj was incorporated. The Lord Vishnu’s idol was obtained from Rajasthan and donated by Dr. Avdesh Mathur. Mrs. Lata Pada donated the two large oil lamps. It was decided to hold prayer sessions every Sunday from 11:00 AM to 12:15: PM. The list of founding members is as follows:
Founding members: Dr. Y Sadana, Dr. Avdesh Mathur, Dr. Ashish Mitra, Dr. Ashok Rastogi, Dr. Radha Patel, Dr. Mahesh Yadav, Dr. Ranga Ratnum, Mr. Brij Garg, Dr. Suhash Joshi, Dr. B. Jasani, Mr. Chiman Harsora, Mr. Khemji Singadia, Prof. P. Visvanathan, Mr. Chhabi Bhushal, Mr. Dhiraj Dholakia, Mr. Bhavan Karamchandani, Mr. Jagdesh H, Dr. Vijay Kumar, Mr. Ramesh Mahant, Mr. Krishan Malhotra, Mr. Parveen Patel, Mr. A. Venugopal, Mr. Asutosh Chowdhary, Mr. Subhash Jawa, Mr. Divan Jain, Mr. Balvant Modgil, Mr. Shymal Mukutmoni. Dr. Shailendra Sharan, Mrs. Rukmoni Sadana, Mr. Mahendra Patel, Mr. Rustom Mistry, Mr. Madhu Sudan Jalota, Mr. Arvind Bansal, Mr. Vasudev Dutta, Mr. Ramesh Mathur, Mr. Dev Mehra, Mrs. Ganga Menon, Mr. Niranjan Mishra, Mr. Chand Mohan, Mr. Upendra Oza, Mr. Harshad Patel, Mr. Jagmohan Patel, Mr. Kanti Lal Patel, Mala, Mr. Ramesh Patel, Mr. Dhiran Sinha, Mr. Naresh Srivastava, Mr. Arvind Walia.
The constitution of the Sudbury Prarthana Samaj was revised in 1995. The objectives of the organization as outlined in the constitution are as follows:
In 2012, another major fund raising drive was carried out. Fifty thousand dollars were raised to renovate the existing premises and to build disability access and washrooms.
Regular pooja sessions continue to be held every Sunday from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM conducted by four devotees (Mrs. Rashmi Garg, Mrs. Ranjana Malhotra, Mr. Niranjan Mishra and Mrs. Asha Sharan). Mrs. Ranjana Malhotra and Mr. Niranjan Mishra also conduct special poojas , and Yagnas . Mrs. Ranjana Malhotra arranges talks on Hindu religion and invite different high schools and churches to temple to bring to awareness of Hindu religion in the community and among youths in the community. All festivals are celebrated in the current premises (485 Mclean Street, Sudbury) and members are encouraged to perform special poojas and yagnas. Currently, there are 45 families as members of the organization. These families take turns in hosting pooja sessions every Sunday.