Sankat Mochan Kendra opens its doors

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Temple, kendra, cultural centre is the first three-in-one institution of its kind in Australia

Sankat Mochan Samiti (SMS) celebrated the opening of the opening of the Sankat Mochan Kendra (SMK), on Sunday, 15 June. This is the first North Indian Hindu temple, social welfare kendra and Indian cultural education institution of its kind in Australia.

The SMK will cater not only to the Hindu population but also other communities interested in Hinduism. More than 1000 devotees attended the inaugural function that went on from 8.45 am to 8.30 pm.

The ceremony began with a prayer to Lord Ganesh, after which the Vastu Puja and Navagraha Puja were performed. The most overwhelming ceremony, which took place for the first time in the history of Australia, was when 11,000 ahutis (offerings of sacred mixture of grains, ghee and aromatic perfumes) were offered to the Gods and the maha Gayatri mantra performed. Five stations were carefully placed with all the precautions of fire safety, as Havan Kunds, with eight devotees at every station. It was a powerful ceremony with divine vibrations keeping the full of spiritual energy. The volunteers made sure that every one who wanted to participate in the mantra ahutis could do so as several of them had traveled long distances to be part of it.

At noon, the most significant devotional ceremony took place when the ‘Pran Pratishtha (infusion of life and divine powers in the idols) was completed and the curtains were drawn open for the first time to reveal the main deities, Ganesh Ji, Ram Darbar, Durga Mata and SankatMochan Hanuman Ji, as the hall was enveloped with the reverberations of the shankh or conch, bells and the devotional sounds of Jai Jaikars (praises for the lord), bringing tears of joy to the eyes of devotees.

Pandit Rajesh Tiwari performed the rituals to initiate all the deities including Shivaling and Navagraha. The idol of Sirdi Sai Baba was also initiated for worship with puja rituals. Shri Sai Baba, also known as Baba by his followers, is loved and worshipped by people from varied religious backgrounds and nationalities. His presence has thrown open the temple to boundary to devotees from different faiths, another unique attribute to the Kendra.

Patron Arvind Shrivastava then made the declaration of ‘Tera Tujhako Arpan’, meaning ‘whatever belongs to you is now being offered to all of you’. He asked everyone to vow to keep SMK going forever through dedicated support.

More than 500 people enjoyed the Maha Prasda (blessed food) after the puja ceremony, which concluded a little after noon. Devotees kept the religious vibrations alive by reciting religious compositions like Amritvani, Hanuman Chalisa, Sankat Mochan Path and many bhajans and keertans after the puja and meals. It was a grand opening and everyone saw their dream of having a centrally located North Indian temple in such a central location in Melbourne come true.

The SMK has limited financial resources and encourages support to conduct its day-to-day rituals as well as in the organization of special events. The Kendra will remain open: Tuesdays and Thursdays — 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm; Saturdays and Sundays — 10.00 am to 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm to 8.00 pm. SMK is at 1289A North Road, Huntingdale, 3166 (near Huntingdale Station); Email sankatmochansamiti@gmail.com or call 0427 274 462 for more information.

Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Magazine  in Australia)

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