Short history of Sanatan Mandir Sabha of Norway

A major part of the migration from India to Norway took place in 1971 – 1974. They got settled mainly in Oslo, Drammen, Fredrikstad and other parts of the south east Norway. Many of these earlier settlers were already engaged in religious activities and the idea of building a Hindu temple in this country was every Hindu’s dream right from the beginning.

Some Hindu devotes took initiative to start Bhajan-kirtan while others started collecting funds to establish Hindu Temple. There were some devotees who took initiative to build a temple in Fredrikstad. The funds collected in Fredrikstad later on been donated to Sanatan Mandir Sabha.

The idea of building a temple around Oslo and Drammen area was given a practical shape, during several meetings held in Drammen. A formal invitation and information about establishment of a temple was sent through the local newspaper in Drammen. A 7-members committee was formed and the responsibility of the President of the committee was given to elderly and respected member of the Indian community in Drammen, Sh. Om Parkash Sharma. Sh. Madan Lal Gupta was selected as Vice-President along with Sh. Raman Bhandari as Secretary and Sh. Kishori Lal Sharma as Cashier. Sh. Vijay Rohtagi, Sh. Vijay Sharma and Sh. Shri Lal Sahajpal were elected as members of the Committee. Later on, Sh. Vijay Kalsi replaced Sh. Raman Bhandari as Secretary.

The important task for the committee in the beginning was to collect funds for the temple and enroll new members. By the end of 1986, the members of the committee have visited many households in Oslo, Drammen and surrounding areas, to collect funds for the temple. The Hindu community responded positively and donated money for this important & holy cause. Collected funds were deposited in the bank account on high interest rate. Committee worked very hard to collect funds and to enroll as many members as possible.

Sanatan Mandir Sabha, Norway was registered as the first Hindu religious community (trosamfunn) in Norway, with the Fylkesmannen I Buskerud in March 1988.

For larger gatherings like Jagran, Akhand Ramayan Path, Dewali and other celebrations, committee used to rent premises of Rommen skole in Oslo and other halls in Drammen and Oslo area. First Bhagwati Jagran was held at Roman skole in August 1988 in Oslo with the close cooperation with Sohan Lal Sharma. A by- monthly magazine named Sanatan Manch was also started with the initiative of Dr. Rajinder P. Shukla.

Committee was mainly interested to acquire a piece of land in Oslo area to construct a brand new Hindu temple. According to the Norwegian law, place of worship could only be built in specific areas like industrial area etc. Therefore, it was extremely important to acquire a land which could easily be approved by local authorities for the temple. The committee tried their best to buy a piece of land but it was not easy to get any suitable place. After long struggle, a piece of land was bought at Holmlia in Oslo and application to build a temple was submitted. After long process of approval, Oslo Kommune rejected the deal and returned the money deposited with interest.

Committee then started to find a suitable building, which could be renovated as temple. Many buildings were considered, a church and office building in Oslo, and a large house in the Lier Kommune are few names worth mentioning. Finally, with the help of Mrs Raj Pathak, the Folkets Hus building at Slemmestad was considered. The site is located between Oslo and Drammen and easily accessible from the entire southeastern region of Norway. Considering all the advantages, the committee decided to buy this property and finalized the deal on 29th January 1993. The building was bought and named Sanatan Mandir. Thus the dream of the entire Hindu community was realized at the end.

“Bhumi Puja” ceremony was held after acquiring the building and Sanatan Mandir Sabha started to hold monthly Bhajn-kirtan at Slemmestad. A General Body meeting of Sanatan Mandir Sabha was held and plans to convert/ renovate the building into Sanatan Mandir was approved by the majority of the members.

A construction/building committee was formed to renovate/rebuild the whole building under the leadership of Sh. Mangat Rai Sharma. After through planning, the construction work started in May 1993 and completed in summer 1994. Simultaneously, a constitution committee led by Sh. Surinder Nath Joshi was formed to prepare the constitution for Sanatan Mandir Sabha. After completion, copies of the new constitution were sent to all members for their comments. The new constitution was adopted unanimously at the General body meeting held at Sanatan Mandir in December 1995.

A new Executive committee was elected with Sh. M.R. Sharma as President, Sh. Abnash Gupta as Vice-President, Sh. Randhir K Kohli as Secretary, sh. Kewal Krishan as Deputy Secretary, Sh. Vijay Saggar as Cashier. Sh. Arun Sharma, Sh. Vinod K Sarna, Sh. Ashok K Sharma and Sh. Sunil K Sharma were elected as executive members. Five Governors, Sh. Harinder Sharma, Sh. Subhash Sharma, Sh. Parshotam L Verma, Sh. Subhas Gupta and Sh. Shashi Rawal were elected as board of governors.

The Executive committee decided to send two of its members, Sh. Abnash Gupta and Sh. Randhir Kohli to order the markana marble Murties i.e. Sh. Ram Darbar, Sh. Radha- Krishan and Ma Bhagwati from Jaipur, India. Murties reached Oslo at the end of April 1997 by ship.

Murti Sthapna Committee was formed in Feb 1997 to organize the activities concerning the Murti Sthapna & Pranpartishtha which took place from 11-15 June 1997 according to the Vedic rituals. Whole rituals been lead by Acharya Surinder Dutt Shastri, Head priest of Vaishno Devi Temple, Oakville Canada along with Sh. Hari Ram Jyotishi and Sh. Ram Subhag Pandey from India. Special dignitaries i.e. Bramrishi Vishwa Atma Bawra ji Maharaj, Uma Shri Bharti ji and Sh. Chaman Lal Gupta MP were invited from India to participate and for parvachnas.

It is a matter of great honor for the members of Sanatan Mandir Sabha that the temple was built by their own financial support, without borrowing any money from the Bank. All members of Sanatan Mandir Sabha rendered their services voluntarily and free of cost.

It is worth mentioning that Sanatan Mandir Sabha was established to build a place of worship in Norway for the advancement of the Sanatan Hindu religion, to educate our children and next generation about the principles of the Sanatan Hindu religion & Indian culture and to promote piece & harmony in the Norwegian society. Sanatan Mandir Sabha is operating as an non-profit organization and all proceeds are being used for the benefit of Sanatan Mandir and the fulfillment of the Sanatan Mandir Sabha`s aims and objectives.

Since the establishment of the Sanatan Mandir Slemmestad in 1997, the existing Executive committee is the 8th democratically elected committee of Sanatan Mandir Sabha.