Amid chanting of Vedic mantras, resonating shlokas, sacred havan and presence of more than 600 Indian-Americans, the foundation stone laying ceremony of a long-awaited India House project in Houston was held.
The 'dream' house, which will be built on a 10-acre tract, was envisioned together, over two decades back, by over 120,000 Indians, living in Houston, the energy capital of the United States.
"This is a truly historic occasion and I consider myself luckier than my predecessors because in 11 months, I will be here to see India House. This project is unique as it will bring together all the different communities, religions and institutions under one roof," said S M Gavai, India's consul general to Houston.
The centre, which will cost between $18 and $20 million, will promote Indian-American culture and provide social, health care and referral services for everyone regardless of their ethnicity.
The first phase, to be named the O P Jindal Community Center, is expected to be completed by the end of December.
The 30,000-square-foot building will include a senior citizens' centre, continuing education, immigrant support and other social services.
On the occasion, India House Inc received yet another $1 million donation from Jindal Group, who earlier had donated the same amount in March 2006.
City Mayor Bill White, City Councilmen M J Khan and Peter Brown, former mayor pro-tem Gordon Quan, president of Rice University David Leebron and Asia Society president Charles Foster among others attended the event.