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Indian students of BYU–Hawaii community share gratitude over groundbreaking of Bengaluru India Temple

Two women in traditional Indian dress with two men in suits holding up shovels of dirt

On Dec. 2, the groundbreaking ceremony was held for Bengaluru India Temple. BYU–Hawaii students from India shared their joy at President Russell M. Nelson’s announcement of the temple and discussed the blessings that will come to their land and people. They also shared the sacrifices they have made in the past to attend the temple and their plans to attend the completed Bengaluru India Temple in the near future.

The official Newsroom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared on its website, “A small group of leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bengaluru India Temple on the morning of December 2, 2020.  

“For many years, Church members in India have travelled to either the Philippines, Hong Kong, or Taiwan for their temple worship. For many, this is not an easy trip to make. Thus, one can imagine the excitement of Latter-day Saints in India when the temple was announced in April 2018 by Church President Russell M. Nelson. It will be the first temple of the Church in India, a country with more than 1.3 billion people of various faiths, including Hinduism and Islam.”

Reaction to the temple announcement  

Shan Arumugam, a senior from India majoring in hospitality and tourism management and a covert to the Church, shared, “When I was in Hawaii watching the general conference, I started crying when I heard [President Nelson] announce the temple. I thought it would take another 10 to 15 years for the Church to build the temple.

“It’s unexpected news. A lot of people called me, friends within the U.S., friends who I served a mission with.”

Balu Pilli, a junior from India majoring in computer science and a returned missionary from the India Bengaluru Mission shared, in 2013, his mission president gathered all the missionaries for a meeting. In the meeting, Pilli said his mission president told them they would soon hear about a temple announcement in India and asked each of them to fast and teach the members to share the gospel to others.

He said, “That was the first time we heard about the temple going to India soon. We worked so hard as missionaries that when we heard the temple announcement in April 2018, we felt so happy. After five years of working hard for every member and missionary, at last, we heard about the announcement of the temple."

He said the missionaries who served with him on the mission called and congratulated one another after the announcement from the prophet.

Vaishali Kilaparthi, a junior from India studying accounting who served her mission in the India New Delhi Mission, said, “I was on my mission when the prophet announced [and] my mission president messaged all of the missionaries in the mission at 3 a.m.”

Kilaparthi said, at first, she was scared because of the unusual timing of her mission president’s message. She continued, “When I saw the message the temple was announced, I was so excited. I know we should not call other missionaries, but I called all the sisters on the mission [and] woke them up and told them about the temple announcement.”

Kilaparthi added she could not believe what President Nelson had announced, but said she was happy because they had always wanted to visit a temple, but the cost of traveling to other countries had been too expensive.

Blessings upon the land and people

Arumugam echoed the words of Elder Robert K. William, an Area Seventy, who spoke during the groundbreaking of the India Bengaluru temple. They both said, “India will not be the same anymore.”

Arumugam explained, “[India] will change because of the blessings of the temple. Members will be more faithful and be an example to the people around us. This temple will be a symbol of love and Christ in India. As members of the Church, we not only preach and rejoice in Christ, but we also live how the Savior taught us.”

Arumugam continued, “In the beginning, when I joined the Church, my family kind of disowned me. They were not happy I’d joined the Church. Now, things are changing. My dad tells me I believed in the same Jesus Christ [and] I’d be a good boy and things would work out for me in life.

“I am not sure how it is going to be, but someday they will understand the importance of the Church and the temple. My family might be getting baptized soon, and they will walk into the temple because it's going to be in our language.”

Kilaparthi said there are many faithful members now serving in India and magnifying their callings, but she said she thinks they will be able to access the power of God more easily when they have the blessings of a temple. She continued, “There is faithfulness amongst the members, but the higher priesthood comes only when we go to the temple, and that is why I am happy. Because we can move to the next step in our lives.

“We can start keeping the covenants, [and] we can prepare to serve in the temple, [which] gives us more opportunities to serve each other much more than before.”

Pilli explained many members in India do not know what happens inside the temple. “Once the temple comes, they will know the most wonderful blessings. … They will learn it. They will experience it. They will know the real blessings of the temple.”

He added, “They would see celestial blessings, celestial marriages, celestial things. Everything would be celestial.”

Sacrifices to attend the temple

Arumugam said the first temple he visited was the Manila Philippines Temple during his time as a missionary and while training in the Philippines MTC. There, he said he was able to get his endowment just before he left to serve in the India New Delhi Mission.

He shared, “I remember before I went on my mission, I worked hard cleaning, painting, construction [and] many different jobs to save up money. I still remember I gave everything I have.” Arumugam added he gave all his savings to the Church and didn’t have any when he arrived in Manila.

He added, “Saints in India are very poor, but their faith is so pure as gold. They are willing to sacrifice everything to go to the temple.

“Now, we have our own temple. I believe this is a great blessing for not only Indians, but also for the people of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and all the neighboring countries.”

Pilli shared, when he and his wife were married in April 2016 in their hometown in India, they planned to be sealed in the Hong Kong Temple the following month of that year. However, Pilli said they didn’t have enough money to make the trip and also discovered the Hong Kong temple was closed.

Even though they missed out on opportunities to visit the temple, Pilli said everyone will now soon enjoy the blessings of the temple when the Bengaluru India temple comes.

Kilaparthi said she had already been admitted to BYU-Idaho, but chose to serve a mission and receive her endowment. She said she knew if she served a mission and got endowed in the temple first, she would be choosing to accomplish her higher calling.

Plans to attend the dedication and open house

Arumugam said he will do his best to invite his non-member friends, school friends, returned missionary friends from the United States and even his BYUH friends to see the new temple. He said, “I am going to invite them to come and see the temple in India.”

Kilaparthi commented, “My dad is not a member yet. My mom and sister are less-actives. So, my plan is to see if I can help them come back to church.” She said she plans to take her whole family to the open house of the temple and said she hopes, if her dad feels the spirit at the temple, one day he will become a member of the Church.

Pilli shared he wants to bring his family and friends from his mission to the temple after its completion and said his mission president and the missionaries he served with are already planning to attend the dedication of the Bengaluru India Temple.