President’s Report – Sept 2019

Guruvayurappan Temple of Brampton

2580 Countryside Drive, Brampton L6R 3T4

GTB  President’s Report  for  AGM – 28 September 2019

Dear Friends,

Welcome  to  GTB AGM of 2019.  This is the 18th  year  of our existence. Our last AGM  was on 21 April 2018.  We had to delay this AGM   because of our busy interior construction schedule to meet the  time line  and  the rigorous planning and meticulous completion of  our long awaited Prathishta Maholsavam. Indeed it was an ecstatic  life time experience

Before I go any further, let me update you all about the health of my dear friend and   our founding board member, Bhaskaran Menon.  He and his dear wife Lalitha live in Dubai with their  son Ashish and family. There is no real change in his health status. Nothing encouraging to report. He is getting the best care possible.  He was updated with live YouTube transmissions during the Prathishta,. Although he is unable to respond; he seems to understand what is going on and hopefully was happy at heart  that his dream has finally come true. Our prayers are with him. We are ever so grateful for his leadership and contributions.

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS SINCE LAST AGM

2018 and 2019 have been very eventful and busy but nevertheless very  satisfying years. Most of our dreams came true!  We accomplished a lot,.

  • We had continued to operate from the Charaprathishta within the new building.    Even though we had many difficulties in operating close to the construction area, we saved on the rental cost. Thirumeni’s  constant presence, supervision, Input  and guidance were  critical as well as  time and cost saving.
  • Securing a mortgage from BMO Bank of Montreal was great. Several banks will not offer a mortgage to any charitable organizations! We tried for a 5 million dollar mortgage but ended up getting 3.265 Million with 4.65% interest. Our devotee friends and committee members, some working in Chartered Banks were quite impressed with what we achieved! It was a blessing  that I had RK working closely with me during negotiations.
  • We completed construction of all the Sreekovils and Thidappalli with amazing  decorative features seen only in temples in Kerala. Thanks to Satsang Artisans from Thirunavaya and  Bobby and his workers of  Bawa Constructions. The wood work by Wilson and  copper roof made by  Yuri  have amazed  our devotees!  Anil Ambat worked long hours against very tight time lines.  Surprisingly Viswam has been and excellent negotiator and bargainer, even though I fought with him on many occasions! May the Lord bless you all!
  • Under the unique leadership of Divakaran Thirumeni, and able support from Manoj Thirumeni, we have also completed the mammoth Kalasam Festivities. The installation and consecration  ceremonies were all completed without a hitch. The dedication and commitment of all the priests and percussionists from Kerala, Canada and the US was amazing. Their activities spread over a 2 week period without break, rest or enough sleep. Unless one experiences it first hand and close,  you will have no clue how hard it is to complete one pooja after another in such a time frame and often simultaneously in up to eight stations! Indeed “chosen” and “blessed” were we to have this “once in a few generations” opportunity to be part of building our dream temple! The man who planned it all and executed it meticulously, is our own Kariannur Mana Divakaran Namboothiri! All the priests and percussionists present ,were uniform in their unconditional  praise for his leadership, knowledge, experience and charisma. May the LORD grant him long life and good health to lead us all for many, many years to come.
  • All the members and volunteers on the Prathishta Committee, especially their team leaders and Coordinators worked hard in planning this mammoth event for many many weeks before and spent long hours, every day, many almost literally living and sleeping at the temple! All your dedication and hard work paid off. With limited resources, lack of space especially for parking you all delivered the impossible! Your unity, comradery, cooperation and commitment to details were amazing. You set an example to the world!  I have no words to thank you all enough! Thank you, thank you and thank you, one and all. No names this time! For our priests and office staff this was the busiest time in history. Thank you  for your hard work and patience. May the LORD bless us all.
  • Our devotees, guests and visitors were all very generous with donations and financial support. RK tells me that we did break even if not better!

BOARD ELECTION

As mentioned in the AGM Notice, we have not included board election in the agenda at this meeting. We can not have it until the Bylaws are properly changed and accepted by the government. The reason is that BMO Bank of Montreal who provided the mortgage had set the following preconditions for the Directors.  They should be willing to:

  1. provide a joint and several personal guarantees in the amount of $3,265,000.00
  2. subordinate their personal loans of a total of $920,000 or more on combined basis and
  3. submit their signed Personal Net Worth Statement (PNW) in confidence to the bank for their review and approval.

Such applications are to be submitted to the Bank’s credit department for their review and approval.  This will involve paying a processing fee.  After receiving the approval, nominations can be accepted for consideration.

We need to amend the bylaws today to include this requirement and submit to the Government for approval.  Once approved, the bylaw will be considered amended and in force. After his report and during New Business the executive director will present a motion to make these changes.  At the same time, the Board also would like to pass motion to amend the bye law replacing “Associate Members” with “Life Members”.  Details were included in the package sent out with the notice.

We will go through the process later in the meeting.

MOVING FORWARD – OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

Now that the temple is fully functional, our next steps are to spread our wings, promote attendance and participation. Involve and include all similar communities of Indian Heritage in particular. This will expand  our horizon and improve  revenue and cash flow. This in turn will help us to achieve debt free status. Then we can expand our community activities and services. For this and immediately we should focus our attention in the following areas:

  1. Increase revenue and promote religious events and services (Religious Affairs)
  2. Increase monthly pledges to 30,000$ (Fund Raising)
  3. Promote the temple among other communities (Media & Marketing)
  4. Start and implement new community and youth projects (Volunteer & Community Service)
  5. Maintain and improve  temple facilities. (Facilities & Maintenance)
  6. WELLBEING OF OUR PRIESTS AND OTHER EMPLOYEES

 

To this end, the Board decided to appoint one expert volunteer in each of these areas to form the Management Advisory Committee.  This Committee will report to the Board.  A Board member will be assigned to work in each area with this volunteer member.  Additional volunteers can be selected and added as and when needed for specific projects/tasks.  We want to see more women and youth in leadership roles and would encourage them to play key future roles in running this temple taking it to new heights.

The Board has also decided to hold off any further major capital projects at the temple till the patron loans are repaid first. We need to save money gradually to pay back the mortgage as well

There are a few pending  projects yet to be completed.  These are:

Street Sign     Mr. Manoj Karatha has agreed to sponsor this sign. He is working with Anil Ambat.  We have received city’s approval and the contractor will start the work soon.

Storage Cabinets: We need a few storage cabinets around the outer wall to store temple and office items.  We are in the process of getting quotations. We could use  sponsors if available!

Repairs:  There was a water clogging on the north side of the temple which needs repairs. This will also be undertaken soon. There may be other repairs needed as time goes on.

Security Fence and Gate:  This project is important in the light of some incidents that we have experienced. However, the cost is substantial.  We have submitted an application in July 2019 for a special Government Grant for this purpose; we are waiting for  a response.

VOLUNTEERS

This is another vital area.  The temple operates all 365 days from morning to late evening, except for a short break in the afternoon. There are several routine activities every day. We do have some paid staff taking care of these chores; however, we need more volunteers to support and complement them, especially on the days when there are additional special events.  I request all of you to volunteer at the temple, whenever possible. Please register your names and availability  with the office. Volunteers must be willing to serve the temple with no expectation of remuneration or special thanks. We all believe that such work will receive special blessings from Lord Guruvayurappan.  The Board, learning from past mistake and as a matter of policy, decided not to thank devotees individually or by names for their contributions and support any more. It goes without saying and you are all in our prayers and the LORD’S THANK YOU LIST!

OFFICE ADMINISTRATION

Our Manager, Mr. Appukuttan Nair, has agreed to continue for now; but he has requested that we find a suitable replacement to take his position as soon as possible. We are now on the lookout for a volunteer to become the Temple Manager. Please help us find a suitable replacement for Mr.Appukuttan Nair.

The LORD  probably heard our prayers!  Just this morning, a few minutes ago, Mrs.Viji Vattompadam told me that she is volunteering and willing to offer her services as  ASSISTANT MANAGER starting immediately. This will be of immense help to all of us. Needless to say that Mr.Appukuttan Nair  was thrilled. This will be confirmed at the next Board meeting. Thank you Viji and thank you LORD.

Unni Oppath had volunteered to continue as Religious Events Coordinator working  with the priests and the Religious Events Committee in promoting, scheduling and supervising  religious events and  reporting to the Board in this role. The LORD had different plans, I presume, This morning Unni Oppath announced that he and his wife Usha have decided to move their residence to California to be close to their two children who are well settled there! It will indeed be a great loss for our Temple and personally for me and the Board. Thirumeni will also miss one of his close confidants. Please join me in wishing Unni Oppath and Usha happiness, long life, excellent health and prosperity. May the LORD bless Unni Oppath and  his family.

Presanna Kumar continues to manage the office accounts including payroll and will remain part of the office management team assisting the Temple Manager and Assistant Manager. He will now take over the additional responsibilities of maintaining the Patron Loan and interest accounts as well as issuing the Charitable Donation Receipts at year end. This will provide additional help to the Executive Director.

We have four other rotating part time staff as well as some regular  who help man the booking counter.

Manoj Thirumeni’s wife, Reena Manoj  is appointed as another part time employee, taking care of Thidappally and other temple related work to help the priests. She will start from 1 Oct 2019.

OTHER INFORMATION

Prathishta:   We are glad to report that we have raised sufficient funds to cover the prathishta expenses.  Although we did not generate any surplus, we are really happy that we could conduct this event to the fullest satisfaction of our Thirumenis and all devotees.  Everyone had a good time. A big thank you to each and every one of you who supported this big event.

Udayasthamana Pooja :  As you know, during the prathistha event, we promoted the remaining Udayasthamana Poojas at the  special reduced price as this scheme was to end when the temple became  fully operational.  This  helped us to add another 38  to the list making  the total booked  to be 79.We have completed 48 poojas this year; and the balance 31 and any other new bookings will be planned for  the next year hopefully following the  Prathistha Day celebrations

Monthly Pledges:  Our monthly pledge contributions are still below $18,000 each month. It has come down from $18569 in January 2019 to $17194 in August 2019. Every month some payments are declined for various reasons and in spite of repeated follow up, some devotees have not reinstated them.  As I said earlier, our focus will now be to work on this and get it to our target of $30,000. This will be comfortable level for paying our Bank Loans and other bills on time, We need each and every one of you to promote this amongst your friends and relatives. We need this for our stability and will be a great help in future negotiations with the Banks.

Medallions:  We have sold almost 375 medallions so far, out of 1500 available.  There is still a large number available.  I have mentioned this before.  Please use medallion as a gift to be offered to your friends and relatives on special occasions like birthdays, wedding anniversary, retirement, new births.  This is really one of the best gifts that one can give as it means you are ensuring that the person and the spouse receives one pooja each year.  It is a powerful message.

EXPANDED  AND NEW ACTIVITIES IN THE TEMPLE

The temple will be able to offer many new poojas for all the Four  Deities starting immediately. The list is being updated.  Please promote these new poojas and other activities.

We can now  hold  Engagement  and Wedding ceremonies at the temple. Other activities offered include Choroon, Vahana pooja, Ezhuthiniruthal  etc. Thulabharam will be offered as soon as we have the setup formalities completed. There will be an announcement coming soon.

Now you can see a “STAGE”  inside the temple. The Board decided to keep the name as “Poonthanam Kalavedi” to commemorate the grant cultural events program held during Prathistha.  We can use this stage for various  performances with advanced booking.  We can  accommodate up to 300 people inside at any one time, for such  events. It is   Important  to ensure that such events are held only after temple hours without disturbing other temple activities. Bookings are to be made through the Temple Manager

The BOARD is looking for opportunities to welcome  other communities to this temple , joining in any of their celebrations and festivities and any opportunity to interact and work together to  promote Sanathana Dharma,Universal Brotherhood and World Peace.

VOTE OF THANKS

I would like to thank our  Priests  and their families who worked very hard and long hours almost every day  during Prathistha and Udayasthamana Poojas.  Without their dedication and  support, none of this would have been possible.

I also would thank all the priests and percussionists who came from India, from US and many from Ontario, Canada for this event.  Their advice, support, dedication and participation were outstanding. I have no words to thank them enough. We were all very  fortunate to witness the outstanding performance of these  world renowned  percussionist in our own temple..

Dr. Sundararajan continues to provide his reputed tuition in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics for Grades 10,11, and 12 during summer. It continues to be   popular among students and parents alike! Special  thank Dr. Sundararajan for his dedicated services.

My sincere thanks and appreciation to our Legal Counsel, Lata Menon and our auditors, McGillivray and Partners.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the cultural and community organizations as well as the local religious institutions  for their continued support and participation during the past year.  I want to acknowledge with gratitude all the support from our media partners who promoted our temple and its events free of charge.

Special thanks to all the board members and committee members for their unconditional support trust and encouragement which gave me the courage and strength to pull through  the various historic and most important temple activities of last year. They all worked very hard on stage and behind the scenes while allowing me to claim the credit and look good and competent as their president .I am nothing without them. I forget my age and minor ailments when I am with them all. Thank you my friends, I will not mention your names least I forget some!

Finally and most importantly, my sincere thanks to all the devotees who always remained committed to the cause and supported us throughout this long journey.  Your love and affection  are intoxicating and infectious and is the medicine that keeps me going.  Thank you very much.

This is your temple and mine! Please  visit our temple regularly. Bring your folks  and friends. Please introduce our temple to all your new friends and  acquaintances and bring them over. Be an AMBASSADOR of this temple and OUR LORD.

Most of your life’s pooja needs can be met at this temple in the most authentic way. Anything new you need, please tell us. There is nothing our dear THIRUMENI can not do!  Please visit our web site  www.guruvayur.ca.  for updates, notifications and other temple activity details.

Let the LORD be in your thoughts always.

OM  NAMO  NARAYANAYA.  MAY THE LORD BLESS US ALL

Dr P. Karunakaran Kutty

President, GTB                                                                                                                                                                                  September 28, 2019

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