Oct 31, 2006

Modern temples

Having been born and brought up in a religious family, I used to be fed with innumerable stories about the temples that I visited. I was always excited to visit new temples, since I have read a lot about them. Before I was 15, I had pretty much been to all the famous temples in TN, except a few in the Northern region, such as Thiruvannamalai and Thiruthani. I was curious to know how old each temple was, which king/dynasty built it, etc.
When I was in Chennai in '95, my cousin took me to the famous Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple. Though it was nice with a tall Anjaneya statue, marble floors, and modern looks, I somehow didnt get the kind of feeling I usually get while in a new temple. Then, I moved to Bangalore and there were very few such historic temples (or hardly). When I went to ISKCON, Bangalore after its inauguration in '97, my initial amusement was more due to the glassy architecture and the Dwaraka-like main hall. The fact that this temple was built 'just like that' didnt go well with the conventional history-seeker in me.
ISKCON was the only one I would often visit, because of its proximity to IISc. It was more a case of 'something is better than nothing'. Added to that, the presence of too many stalls/booths selling all sorts of things was an irritating factor. Then I consoled myself that even in the temples of TN, people dont leave a chance to advertise/show-off anywhere.. e.g., some tiny fluorescent lamps with "Ubayam: X and family". Kashta kaalam..
Now, in US, kekkavey venam.. Most of the temples are of the "All gods under one roof" type in Florida. The temples in Tampa and Orlando were reasonably good. When my friend said he would drive all the way to Alabama for the 'Kumbabhishekam' of the newly built Puri Jagannatha temple, I was taken aback at his enthu. For him, it was an opportunity to visit his Oriya friends too. When I heard from cousin that there are about 40 temples around the Edison region of New Jersey, I was truly surprised. There are 'specialiazed' temples like Sri Ranganathar, Durga, Ram, Venkateswara and Shiva.
So, my experience of the past few years makes me believe that temple is a place to go and seek peace/blessings from God. Doesn't matter whether God really liked that place or not, or, for that matter, he choses to be there to listen to ur prayers, or not. It is little more holier than your home's pooja room; and, as I heard in a recent movie, temple is a place where the minds of hundreds of people converge at a given time.


KK said...

Nice Post :)

மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

good post Raju:-))

Anonymous said...

Came across this quote, what do you think ? "Hands that help are far better than lips that pray"

G3 said...

Aaha.. I dont go to temples frequently.. But when we want to sit in peace for some time then the best option wud be temple.. :)
The very moment we enter the temple we could feel that peace in us :)

Anjali said...

i have found that jain temples in the states have been some of my favorite ones i have visited outside of india. they're kept very clean and are usually much quieter than their hindu counterparts, though hindu temples are also an auspicious experience as well.

Me too said...

The first pic is the Rameshwaram temple, right? Simply breath-taking!!

In my younger days, the most exciting thing in temples used to be its animal dwellers/visitors like the peacock(s) in Kapaleeshwarar temple, Mylapore, the eagle in Thirukazhukundram etc.

If you think the "All Gods under one roof" kind of temples in US is sumaar, you should see the (South Indian)temples in London. It will look one among the many regular buildings. I was awed to see temples with Gopuram here on my first temple visit. Every time there is collection to build a new temple, my mother would say, "irukkara kovila nalla panna koodadha?".

Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

Hay! Informative post! :)
Gud one!

mitr_bayarea said...


Loved the picure of the first temple- what is it?

As for the last quote in your blog about temple being the place where minds converge, I would also state the the Home-Puja Room swami's can be worshipped as if were a temple diety and sometimes when you have too many choices on temples to visit- this is the best thing.

Raju said...

KK, Danks..
Karthik, ungalukkum danks..
Anon, that is a very interesting quote. How about the lips that pray, ALONG WITH the hands that help?

Sometimes, it is not possible for to one to lend a helping hand.. During such times, for those in distress, the feeling that there is someone praying for his/her well-being will give enormous boost to come out of the problem. It all depends on the EQ of the person. And I now remember someone telling "Praying for others is more powerful than praying for oneself". You can find prayer halls in most of the major hospitals nowadays.. Anything that gives even some amount of positive energy is welcome in some situations, right?
G3, mmm.. I agree with you. Even I havent visited many temples in the past 10-12 years.. The temples of tamilnadu have given me peace most of the times when I needed it.

Raju said...

Anjali, Jain temples, huh? Will keep them in mind when I plan of a temple visit. Their cleanliness and quiteness are not surprising to hear. Never visited them even in India so cant really compare with them, but will be interesting to compare with other Hindu temples.
Aparna, Yes, Rameswaram-eydhan.. My (ex-)hometown..

Oh yeah, the bird visitors.. Amazing.. esp. the story of Thirukazhukundram...

I have seen some ISKCONs in US which look exactly like any other house, including the one in your city.

I agree with your mom.. Instead of going on building new ones, they better focus on the existing ones.
Ponnarasi, vara vara unga comments ellamey 'copy and paste' vidhama irukku.. mmm.. romba busy pola..
Mitr, it is the famous 'third corridor' (moondram prakAram) of Rameswaram. FYI, that is the longest in the world.. with amazing paintings on the roof and breathtaking end-to-end view, as mentioned by Aparna.

And, comparing puja room and temples, i said 'little more holier' bcos the atmosphere is such.. with a poojari, regular pooja, naivedyam, deeparadhanai etc. being done. Otherwise, I am a believer that God, esp. in places like US, is best worshipped from home.

Anjali said...

there is a jain temple within a driving distance of the big pittsburgh hindu temple that is a very beautiful and peaceful building, with nice surroundings.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Raju...

" It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart " ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Raju said...

Anjali, thanks for the info. Though Pittsburgh is a lil far from here, there are a few in the NJ/NY area.. will check them out.
Anon, Wow.. superb quote.. I am bad at memorizing quotes.. but this one is amazing.. Will try to remember.. Thanks..

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