The grand opening event of the new Temple of Light at Yasodhara Ashram on June 23 drew a crowd of about 700 people. Photos submitted

New Temple of Light opening celebrated

The Kootenay yoga retreat and study centre rebuilds temple following 2014 fire

On Saturday, June 23, 2018 Yasodhara Ashram hosted approximately 700 people from around the region to celebrate the official opening of the new Temple of Light as well as to enjoy the 24th Annual Strawberry Social.

The bold new Temple was prefabricated by Spearhead of Nelson and designed by award-winning Patkau Architects of Vancouver and replaces the original, which was destroyed by fire in 2014. The new Temple continues to hold the vision of hope and peace, where diverse traditions are honoured.

“There is so much division in the world so we need a place to remind us to come together. And a place of Light is a place of love,” Swami Lalitananda, the Ashram’s president, said in her opening address.

Nelson Mayor, Deb Kozak and Creston Mayor, Ron Toyota attended the event, and the ribbon cutting ceremony included representatives from the area: Garry Jackman (Director of Electoral A of the RDCK), Gina Medhurst (President of Kootenay Lake Chamber of Commerce) and Wayne Stetski (MP for Kootenay-Columbia). Swami Lalitananda led the ceremonies with a heartwarming welcome, thanking everyone “who is attracted to a sacred space.”

The three local representatives spoke of the Ashram as a valuable member of the community. Gina described the Temple as a place “where we can come back to the circle, to the centre.” Garry highlighted projects the Ashram has been active in recently, while also attracting younger people to the area. Wayne shared his experience of visiting the War Museum in Ottawa, which led him to ask, “Why can’t we learn to get along? If I had one wish it would be to take the caring, the welcoming of diversity, the love you see every time you come to the Ashram, and spread that all over the world. We would have a much better world.”

The opening remarks were followed by performances by Slava Doval’s DanceFusion, a group of young dancers from Nelson. Slava Doval, Nelson’s cultural ambassador for 2018 is a former East Shore resident and Ashram Teen Program participant. The young dancers performed three inspiring pieces, while Slava offered her own amazing creation and performance. She credits the Ashram for the formative experience in understanding that dance can be a sacred art that speaks to the spirit.

The entire celebratory opening was live-streamed to homes around the world and also to Mandala House, where the Ashram’s overflow visitors could watch the Temple events unfold. The finale of the day was showing the video, Temple of Light by Gem Salsberg, featuring interviews with Ashram guests and residents as well as with the architects, fabricators and contractors.

Founded by Swami Sivananda Radha in 1963, in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia, Canada, Yasodhara Ashram is one of the first ashrams established in Canada. Set in the beautiful mountains of southeastern British Columbia, the yoga retreat and study centre is an enduring and vibrant spiritual community where people of all ages and backgrounds can pursue self-development and discover the promise of yoga.

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