With the arrival of the first Hindu temple in the Conejo Valley, the area’s growing South Asian population now has its own house of worship just in time for this year’s festival season.
The Sri Venkata Krishna Temple on Borchard Road in Newbury Parkopened its doors in June and recently finished hosting programs for the Navaratri and Vijaya Dashami holidays.
The next major celebration will be for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, with ceremonies and fireworks scheduled for Sat., Nov. 21.
Previously located in Woodland Hills, the temple moved to the more spacious Newbury Park site to better serve its growing number of devotees.
Jnanamoorthy Bhat, the temple’s chief priest, said the new site, which used to house Living Hope Church of the Nazarene, satisfied most of the requirements the congregation sought when considering a move. These included a bigger prayer hall and proximity to the freeway.
About 750 people attended the temple’s June 28 grand opening. Since then, people have trickled in for daily prayer services and congregated en masse for special events. Krishna Janmashtami, in early September, attracted 450 people.
On Oct. 22, over 200 devotees filled the prayer room to observe Vijaya Dashami, a holiday for the goddess Durga. Among them was Chethan Kumar, who moved to Thousand Oaks a year ago and works for Amgen. Friends told him about the temple.
“It’s very convenient for me,” said Kumar, who previously drove to the Hindu temple off Las Virgenes Canyon Road in Calabasas.
Dipthy Sujay, who moved to Thousand Oaks from India in July, said her first temple visit in her new country was to the Newbury Park site. She was drawn to this particular temple because it has roots in the same area of South India as where she’s from.
Most devotees come from India, Bhat said. But some have roots in other parts of the Hindu world, including Sri Lanka and Nepal. A shelf at the back of the prayer hall contains Sanskrit prayers written in four different scripts and translations in six languages.
Arvinda Shetty of Moorpark has been with the temple for eight years.
“When I first visited the temple, there were 50 to 100 people,” he said. “Now they are in the thousands.”
Deven Pandey, originally from Nepal, first visited the temple with his family during the September Krishna Janmashtami service. He found out about the temple after his wife drove past it on her way back from the dentist.
“It’s amazing to see how this community is becoming more diverse,” he said. “I’m not a deeply religious person but I like the cultural aspects of the religion.”
Pandey said he plans to take his two young children for services during major Hindu festivals to immerse them in that culture.
“We celebrate all Hindu calendar festivals,” Bhat said.
The temple also offers prayer services, known as pujas, on an individual basis.
In addition to pujas, the temple provides children and adults with a variety of classes including devotional songs, yoga and SAT preparation.
For more information, visit catemple.org.