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Online Exclusive: Visiting the Temple

A large mural depicting Lord Krishna driving a chariot powered by four white horses. With him is the archer Arjuna. The scene is from the Mahabharata, one of two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India that contains the oft-quoted Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

Hinduism is more than a religion. It is a culture, a way of life and a code of behavior. It is not based on the teachings of a holy person, nor is it based on a single book.

Guests are welcome to attend any of the Indo-American festival events as well as the poojas (worship ceremonies) and other ceremonies listed on the Indo American Cultural Center & Temple (IACCT) website (kalamazootemple.org).

If you visit the temple, at 2002 Ramona Avenue, here is what you might experience:

Standing in the paved parking lot, you will see a gold-and-red sikhara, a tapering tower, that rises above the entrance to the temple. These towers come in many designs and shapes on various Hindu temples, but they all have mathematical precision and geometric symbolism.

Upon entering the temple doors, you will see a large mural depicting Lord Krishna driving a chariot powered by four white horses. With him is the archer Arjuna. The scene is from the Mahabharata, one of two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India that contains the oft-quoted Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

There is no strict dress code, although guests should not wear attire that exposes too much skin. Expect to remove your shoes. Do not bring food or beverages into the prayer hall.

The prayer hall is expansive, with a rich-brown wooden ceiling, arching beams, a plush red carpet and large Indian rugs. The altar contains authentic marble statues of 12 deities, including Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Durga.

The worship ceremony will be performed by a priest (pandit) sitting lotus-style on a slightly raised platform. There might be a discourse from a holy book.

Most people will sit on the carpeted floor, men on the right (facing the altar) and women on the left. Couples or families may sit together. Chairs line the sides of the prayer hall for those who want to use them. The physical separation of men and women is not specific to Hindu services; rather, it is a common social characteristic in India based on the idea that the two genders generally discuss diverse topics.

People will come and go during the designated prayer time. The number of attendees might be many or a few. Some might linger, and some might say a quick prayer to a favored deity to satisfy their religious or spiritual need at that moment and then depart. Some persons might lay prasad (cooked food, fruits, or confectionary sweets offered to a deity and consumed by devotees) on the altar, but this is not required.  

A traditional Indian meal is often served after the worship, and visitors will certainly be invited to dine at the temple.

For additional information, visit www.temple.org, call 324-8224 or send email to iacctemple@sbcglobal.net.

Robert M. Weir

Robert is a writer, author, speaker, book editor and authors’ coach. You can see more of his work at robertmweir.com.

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