APRO Board Member and Action Development Corp., dba Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership President and CEO Gopal Reddy is serving as Chairman of the Board for the Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield and leading an 8,500 square-foot temple project in Chatham, Illinois. With a groundbreaking ceremony held on April 21, the temple is one step closer to completion. “It’s a dream come true now that it’s a reality” shares Reddy. “We’re all excited, and the community will be more excited when they see this happen.” The public groundbreaking ceremony, Bhoomi Puja, is a religious ceremony conducted by Hindu priests asking for pardon for disturbing the earth. Bhoomi Puja is performed on the construction site where the building is to be constructed to help break new ground and appease positive energies while honoring mother earth. Former committee president and temple champion Dr. Krishna Rao, Reddy and others believe the new temple is an important mile marker for the Hindu community in the Springfield area that populates more than 350 families and 250 students at the University of Illinois. “It’s a Hindu coming of age,” says Rao. “A temple brings people together otherwise, where do we meet?” adds Reddy. “We’re there to pray and socialize…it’s a ‘we’re all in the same community’ kind of feeling. Hopefully, it will help the kids and grandkids realize the culture and religion. At least we’re exposing it to them. Now they can see it, there wasn’t an option before.” In 2007, Rao proposed fundraising to purchase property for a temple and in 2008, a deal was made to acquire the former Judson Baptist Church and 9.4 acres in Chatham, Illinois. After a six-month renovation, the group moved in with the intention of building a more permanent temple on the acquired land but the structure of the building did not comply with the stringent rules of temple design. The committee worked with India-based architect Kalyanasundaram Sthapathi to iron out the details of the $2 million project. “The temple will stand out in a positive way,” says Rao. “It’s a tremendous cultural enhancement and a further way to integrating into the community.” They expect the new temple to be complete in 2020. The Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield project was recognized by NPR Illinois, click here to read the story. The groundbreaking ceremony was also recognized local television station WICS, click here to view the news story.