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Svatantrya Temple celebrates first year, continues to grow

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Julia Falcon, For the Denton Record-Chronicle

Every day there is something different going on at the Svatantrya Temple, on Congress Street across from Seven Mile Cafe. 

Past the shala, or yoga studio, and shrine room, the temple has its own community garden growing, with some of the produce going into vegan and organic meals. The temple offers monthly memberships for yoga and other classes and food, as well as meal memberships.

This Sunday was dedicated to "garden karma yoga," where yogis work in the garden and give back to the community, followed by a potluck meal. 

After celebrating the temple's first birthday a week ago, one of the three founders, Laura Roseman, said the community is continuing to grow.

"We are all about embracing partnership and friendship," Roseman said. "We have dinners and lunches and events and celebrations. We do a lot of different community events for that reason."

There is enough food prepared for 15 to 20 people, including those who teach classes, as part of their compensation for teaching. Roseman said she hopes to pay teachers soon, and remains transparent about finances. 

After what she called a "life crisis," Roseman spent a year and a half studying in India, then returned to Denton to teach what she learned there to the community here. 

The house-turned-temple has nine tenants, two of them dogs, according to residents. 

Sam Hardisty, an integrative studies student at UNT, is one of those tenants. She said she thought that living in the temple would be an experience, and so far it has been. 

"I didn't have my housing figured out and I was looking at a few places," Hardisty said. "On a whim I saw they were looking for a roommate here, so I came by one evening for this one event, and they fed me immediately, and this circle of people greeted me."

Unlike a hectic sorority house or the small home she previously shared with four other roommates, Hardisty said she feels welcome in the temple and enjoys the mellow environment. With high-pressure situations in her life recently, Hardisty said she is comforted knowing she will come home to the temple. 

There are two bedrooms in the temple that are rented out to help keep the temple going. That, and payments from people who attend classes, contribute to its growth. 

Julian Von Loesch met Roseman and her husband, Whitney, while studying in India. His goal was to open a temple similar to this one in India, but he fell in love in Denton. 

"I felt like there was already a community established here. I loved the community," Von Loesh said. "Everyone was so full of energy and spirit here."

FEATURED PHOTO: Members of Svatantrya Temple hold hands during a prayer before a potluck dinner on Sunday. (Jake King/DRC)