More than 1,700 volunteers, 36,131 cubic feet of Turkish limestone, 151 pillars, 40,000 carved stone pieces -- and one enthusiastic crowd celebrating 10 years of faith and friendship.
Hindus from the region gathered Sunday to mark a milestone for the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir -- consecrated Aug. 8, 2004 -- with dance, music and food. The white-domed temple in Bartlett quickly became an iconic architectural gem.
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The structure "gave me strength and inspiration," said Komal Patel of Westmont. "I come to the mandir and I find peace."
The anniversary theme is "shanti," or peace, explained Harish Patel, a spokesman for the mandir.
Harish Patel was among the voluntary workforce that helped assemble the temple. He recalled cleaning the stones -- the dust and dirt on his overalls.
"Today, see us all here," he added, gesturing at his spotless suit, while women in bejeweled saris poured into the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates on Sunday for the celebration.
Key players in the event were young adults who came of age in the decade since the mandir opened.
Kushal Thakkar, 21, a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, passed on his knowledge of traditional Indian dance to the teenagers on the stage.
"Everything I learned in my life is through the mandir," the Bartlett resident said. "It's been like a second home to me."
Rucha Patel, 16, of Palatine, admitted she was a "little nervous" before her performance but drew strength from the crowd that wildly waved BAPS flags.
The temple has "shaped me and sculpted me," she said. Now she helps little girls learn about their Indian heritage. "I teach them about what the mandir is ... so they know they're Hindu and they're Indian."
Recent college grad Komal Patel pulled an all-nighter assembling the popular BAPS flags, waved by hundreds at the Sears Centre.
The sculptured interior of the Bartlett temple is a source of spiritual joy, she said. "I look at a different pillar each time and see something different each time. It's so beautiful -- from every angle."
If it's a gray day, the temple masks the weather, volunteer Payal Shah said, adding it's a colorful touch of India even in a Chicago winter.
"We have a traditional Hindu mandir -- here -- in the suburbs of Chicago. Even if you can't make it to India, you can have a connection right here."