SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Five priests, each with a long yellow cloth wrapped around the waist, began the June 5-7 weekend ceremonies at the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah the traditional Hindu way, with prayers to Lord Ganesha, AP reported last week.
Ganesha was just one deity to whom prayers and rituals were performed recently, as part of the Maha Kumbhabhishekam, a four-day series of ceremonies to rededicate the Hindu temple in South Jordan.
“We have lots of gods, but only one supreme being,'' said Dinesh Patel, Indian American president of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple's board of directors, and a noted Utah venture capitalist and philanthropist.
One highlight of the ceremonies was the Jala Adhivasam, or the consecration of the deities. Devotees lined up to pour sacred water over idols of more than a dozen deities — a lineup that includes Ganesha, Shiva, his companion Parvati, Krishna, Lord Rama, Hanuman and others.
The numerous deities represent different forms of Ishwara, the supreme being of Hinduism, explained Sneha Kasera, one of the temple's lifetime trustees.
“Everything around you is God,'' Kasera said. “The whole of the universe and beyond is God.''
The idols, made of stone or ceramic or metal, were placed temporarily in plastic storage tubs to keep the water from spilling onto the temple's new floor. The idols will be placed in 18 shrines within the temple, after which only the priests are allowed to touch them.
The deities were invoked in prayer sessions, or pujas, held in the morning and evening sessions on the first Thursday night, Friday and Saturday in June. The priests also tended to sacrificial fires, called homam, which burned constantly.
The rededication of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple and the adjoining India Cultural Center is the culmination of a three-year expansion plan. The new temple accommodates some 600 devotees, compared to 250 in the old temple, Patel said — a reflection of the growth of Utah's Hindu and Indian American community.
The expansion, at a budget of $2.65 million raised by the community, faced a hard deadline of this summer. The temple opened in 2003.
According to a press release India-West received from Dinesh Patel, “The function was very memorable and the biggest I have ever seen that the temple has hosted,” said Eshan Narasipura, a young devotee.
The event was marked by over 100 pujas and homas, prasadam (food), and attended by nearly 1200 devotees and visitors. The three full-time priests of the temple were joined by four guest priests and 10 rithviks while they conducted the rituals.
The grand celebration was the culmination of a $2.65 million expansion that more than doubled the capacity of the main temple hall, added more parking spaces, a courtyard for the temple, classrooms for community use, new priest quarters, and a 40-foot tall Gopuram (tower). Along with Lord Ganesha, other consecrated deities now have individual shrines for prayers and pujas.
“We thank Lord Ganesha and our pantheon of deities for their blessings on this auspicious occasion. We have a very supportive community in Utah and would like to thank them all for their generosity. Over 300 donors gave $1000 and above and over a 100 dedicated volunteers made sure everything happened in an efficient manner for the event,” said Patel.
A special commemorative magazine, silver coin, and souvenir bag were also released on the occasion. Several prominent local and state dignitaries and organizations sent congratulatory messages for the occasion.
“The campus is taking shape to be a hub of religious and cultural activity for the Indian American community of Utah and their friends and neighbors,” said Rakesh Choudhary, the 2015 president of the India Cultural Center. Adjacent to the temple, the India Cultural Center hosts cultural and sporting events throughout the year. The Temple board expects completion of the pending projects over the next year; these include the beautification of individual shrines for the deities and the Gopuram.
—An AP member exchange.