A watershed moment for the Hindu community in Victoria

By Sridhar Subramaniam
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(PUNARAVARTHANA UTHAMA PAKSHA PRATISHTA MAHA KUMBABHISHEKHAM)

After undergoing a historic transformation, the largest granite Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere had its formal opening today.

The Vakrathunda Vinayagar is a landmark which you cannot afford to miss on the Mountain Highway in The Basin. Nestled in the midst of very green and lush landscape, the temple makes a very pretty sight. The Dandenong Ranges in the backdrop, completes the panoramic picture.

It is Victoria’s Oldest Hindu Temple. It is the largest granite Hindu Shrine in the Southern Hemisphere.

As part of the Hindu tradition, a Hindu temple is renovated and reconsecrated every 12 years. A ritual called the Kumbhabhishekham is performed. The ritual is believed to homogenise, synergise the mystic powers of the deity. Kumbha means the Head and denotes the Shikhara or Crown of the temple, which is the gopuram and Abhishekham is the ritual bathing. On the designated day, at an auspicios time Kumbha is bathed with the charged and sanctified holy waters brought from the holy rivers of India in the sacrificial pot and by a mystic process these pranic power trickle down a silver wire and enter the presiding deity installed in the Garbha Griha (or the Sanctum Sanctorum) of the temple. The deity, which was till then only a granite sculptured stone image, is believed to transform into a vivid and vibrant living representation of the deva with innate beatitude, grandeur and grace showering divine blessings on all the devotees.

 

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Before Kumbabhishekham the concealed power of the stone idol is transferred by mantras to the Panchaloha Vigrahas (statuettes made out of five alloys) of the same deity and kept immersed in turmeric water till repairs of the original idol, if any and the sanctum are done. On the day of the Kumbabhishekham, the power will be transferred back to the original idol in the Moolasthana (sanctum sanctorum) and Abhishekha and other rituals will performed right from the top roof of the temple.

Kumbabhishekham is a cleansing process of the deity and the temple. Every day abhishekhas (ritual pouring is done with milk, curd, honey, fruit juice etc). Literally every day the deity is showered with these ritual pourings for 12 years. It is highly likely that there could be some rust or residue accumulation which would have escaped the daily cleaning. This could corrode the concealed joints in the idol in the long run. Kumbabhishekham is the cleansing process.

During Kumbabhishekham rituals are performed following the Agama Shastras and the Vedic Knowledge.

Architecture

The main granite shrine for Sri Vakrathunda Vinayagar alonge is build from the 17 layers of granite, all carved by hand.

Pothiyals are teardrop shaped, sitting on top of the octagonal shaped pillars. These are very unique features and are all around the moolasthanam (the sanctified epicentre) of the newly renovated Sri Vakrathunda Vinayagar Temple

The roof of the moolasthanam is constructed in a conical shape which amplifies the sound of the recitation of the mantras so that it can be heard around the temple.

The final vimanam is capped off by a six tonne single stone, similar to the Brihadeeswarar Temple (a UNESCO Heritage Temple in Tanjore, Tamil Nadu in India).

The consectration rites extend over several days. First rite in the series is propitiating Ganesha, the removar of obstacles. There will be prayers to the earth (bhoomi puja). Then the Raksha Bandhanam. The priests will tie a thread of blessing and protection, committing to the rituals ahead.

The main rites take place in a large tent erected adjacent to the temple. The tent becomes the Yajnashala (designated place where the fire offerings take place). The moola mantras are recited followed by Purnahuti, the ritual of completion. These are all for the consecration of the murtis or deities.

This time around people thronged to the temple to apply oil to the murtis, a rare privilege. Usually, only priests are allowed to touch the deities.

The grand finale is when the priests recite the prayer from the Isha Upanishad dedicating the work to the fullness, the perfection of the Eternal Brahman.

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

That Beyond is Fullness
This here is Fullness
From Fullness comes Fullness
Drawing out the Fullness of the Fullness
Fullness yet remains
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti


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