Lake County's Hindu community celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Hindu Mandir temple over the weekend with traditional dance, food and guests some believe were delivered by God himself.
Anniversary celebrations culminated Sunday after three days of religious and cultural programs.
"This is our dream come true," said Shashi Mehta of Libertyville, president of the India Cultural Association. "It has been a challenging year, but the temple is doing the job it was supposed to do for the community."
More than 500 people attended the celebration over the weekend. The highlight of Sunday's program was a visit from five students from SRMAB, or Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind, in Bangalore, India.
The students, who perform traditional dance from all regions in India, heard about the temple's anniversary and offered to make Hindu Mandir one of their stops on their U.S. tour.
"The organizers found out about us and asked if they could come," said Anu Gupta, who heads the cultural activity committee. "It's God's way I guess."
Located near Grayslake, Hindu Mandir serves an estimated 3,500 Hindu families from Lake, McHenry and northern Cook counties.
Since opening its doors, the temple has held several events. One of the largest was in October. The annual Hindu festival Navaratri, or nine holy nights, ended on the 10th day known as Dashera with the burning of a roughly 24-foot wooden effigy of a demon on temple grounds.
More than 2,000 people attended that event, with cars lining Peterson Road for several hours with people trying to get to the festival.
Mehta said what makes Hindu Mandir so appealing is the temple's 27 deities.
"It's very diverse in its appeal because the worship done in north, south, east and west India are all in one place," Mehta said.
Mehta's wife, Madhu, said the deities are something everyone is very proud of.
"These beautiful statutes are so intense in their power," she said. "They bring life energy. Five people spent 30 years getting this temple open. Our dreams have come true."