Groton DPW director Tom Delaney, center, supervises installation of the "All Are Welcome" stone, on Route 119 westbound entering Groton from
Groton DPW director Tom Delaney, center, supervises installation of the "All Are Welcome" stone, on Route 119 westbound entering Groton from Littleton, sponsored by the New England Shirdi Sai Temple, the Hindu temple under construction nearby, whose entrance is next to the stone. (SUN/Julia Malakie) (Julia Malakie)

GROTON -- Thursday was an auspicious day for the town's newest house of worship.

A stone with the words "All Are Welcome" was placed on Route 119, marking the Groton/Littleton town line.

The spot is beside the driveway for the New England Shirdi Sai Temple. The 40,000-square-foot Hindu temple is still under construction and will open on Nov. 19.

The stone is one of eight that are being placed along the main entrances to Groton. The placement was approved by Town Meeting in the spring and much of the cost was covered by private donations.

The Department of Public Works installed the stones, the only expense borne by the town. The installation near the temple took several town workers less than 15 minutes.

Around a dozen people gathered Oct. 5 to commemorate the placement.

"It's a nice significance when they say 'all are welcome,'" said Sandeep Kaushik, a board member of the temple.

Welcoming has a special connection with Sai, the primary Hindu deity to be worshiped at the temple, he said. When Sai Baba returned to Shirdi, after he had been away, someone called out "Aao Sai," or "Welcome Sai."

"We feel that Sai has come today to say all are welcome," Kaushik said.

The temple sponsored the stone and placed a message in the time capsule buried beneath it.

"'All Are Welcome' is a very short phrase and yet holds deep spiritual and humanitarian meaning," the letter signed by board member Neelkanth Mishra reads.


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"... (T)he town of Groton has been welcoming from all aspects."

"We hope to continue spreading positive vibrations for the times to come," he wrote.

The temple's sponsorship and message "represents everything that this project was intended to accomplish," said Selectman Jack Petropoulos in a short statement immediately after the stone was placed.

The time capsules under each of the stones contain newspaper articles and letters to the editor, he said earlier. The contents may explain to someone in the future why the stones were placed and cause people to ask why they were even needed.

An article filed by citizens' petition is on the warrant for the next Town Meeting. It calls for the words "All Are" to be removed from the stones.

For the future worshipers at what will be the largest temple of its type in North America, the stone with its message is welcome.

Not only the words are auspicious, so was the day it was placed. Thursday is when the group meets for services.

The temple plans to be part of the community, Kaushik said. From the current location in Chelmsford, it already provides medical services and gives to different charities. The new building will be available for community use.

Before the building is opened, the worshipers must make everything ready.

The temple is looking for a bit of specialized help with this that an agricultural community should be able to provide: a cow.

As part of the initiation of a new temple, a cow walks through the building.

They need someone to bring a cow to the ceremony and lead it around. If the cow will not cooperate, they have a backup plan. The cow could walk around the outside of the building, or simply be present for its role in the service.

The only catch is, the cow cannot be slaughtered afterward. The cow's owner will need to let it live.

The temple is willing to pay for the cow and its upkeep if the price is reasonable, Mishra said.

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.