Thiru Subramaniam Aalayam opens in South Auckland
Venkat Raman –
More than 500 devotees of Lord Subramaniam (Lord Murugan), known as the ‘God of the Tamils’ prayed and rejoiced as a Temple dedicated to Him opened at 56, Tidal Road in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere on May 3, 2015.
While those devotees, from a cross-section of communities including Indians from India, Fiji and other parts of the world, watched with awe the proceedings conducted by five priests of our own ilk, it was a dream come true for one man.
It was the Project of one man, fought legal challenges, financial constraints and many other manmade troubles to see the light of the day that would brighten the lives of tens of thousands in the years to come.
Much to his dislike, we would like to say with gratification, pride and admiration that it was the dream of Ilango Krishnamoorthy to have a Temple for Murugan.
In many ways, this place of worship symbolised the character and calibre of the Lord Himself- the strength to combat without losing respect for the opponent and the ability to pursue a goal without compromising other duties in life and career. It was a struggle that he undertook suo moto, fully aware that it would be like climbing the six hills on the top of each of which Lord Murugan resides after each conquest.
For Mr Krishnamoorthy, ‘Thiru Subramaniam Aalayam’ will accrue the same blessing as having visited the Six Houses of his Lord.
If he was excited, he did not show it but the sense of achievement was evident, when he told the devotees present, “The built-up area is only 330 square meters (while the land area is 2198 Square Meters); the rest will be decided by the future generation,” he said.
“As well as providing a more spacious place of worship for our Lord, we hope to make the Temple complex a rendezvous for the elderly to meet, exchange greetings and spend quality time. This will also be a Community Centre teaching Tamil and Telugu, Reading and other useful activities.”
The current phase of construction, estimated to have cost $675,000, comprised a bank loan of $110,000, with the balance raised as interest-free private loan.
The total project cost, including all works, is expected to be about $750,000.
Mr Krishnamoorthy acknowledged the support and contributions of a growing number of people from the community, with special reference to A Mahasivam, Gopalan Iyengar, Jeevan Siva Thambiah, Dr Krishnamurthi, Subramani Goundar, Vai Ravindan, Dr Varadarajan, Veerasamy Naidu, the late Venugopalan and Yogesh Raja.
The festivities and religious ceremonies marking the opening of the Temple were held over three days, commencing on Friday, May 1, 2015. These began with Ganapathi Homam, and other observances followed later in the evening by installation of the Deities with traditional ‘Navaratnas,’ (Nine Gems), Gold, Silver and Yantras.
Our ‘own’ Priests Venkatraman, Ramachandran (Ramesh), Ragavan Rengachariar, Parameswaran Chandru, Swaminatha Sharma and Sai Shyam Sharma conducted the proceedings over the three days.
The installation of Deities, commonly known as ‘Prana Pratistha,’ is a ceremony observed with piety and concentration. It is a ritual of consecration in which the consciousness or the power of the Deity is brought into the image, “awakening the icon in a Temple.”
Mr Krishnamoorthy said, “In Hinduism, ‘Murtis’ or idols are worshipped only after this religious rite is performed. ‘Pratistha’ is taken to mean ‘installed’ or consecrated.”
Homam and ‘Ashtapanthanam’ were the main items on the agenda for the second day of ceremonies held on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Many devotees contributed for the application of sesame oil to the Deities.
The most significant event of ‘Maha Kumbabishegam’ was held on Sunday, May 3, 2015. Many Hindus consider this as ‘once-in-a-lifetime occasion. While the ceremony is held in honour of the Deities installed, it is also performed to eradicate illness and promote a healthy and harmonious society.
‘Kumbha’ means the Head, denoting the ‘Kalasa,’ ‘Shikara’ or the Crown of the Temple’s ‘Gopuram,’ an ornate structure that starts out wide on the bottom and narrows as it rises high. ‘Abishegam’ is ritual bathing.
The general belief however is that ‘Maha Kumbabishegam’ synergises the Divine Powers of the Deities and is performed in some Temples once in 12 years or after major construction or renovation jobs.
These observances are replete with many rituals, which have religious, social, domestic and personal implications.
Mr Krishnamoorthi said that the Shiva Lingam and the Presiding Deities of Subramaniyar, Venkateswarar (Balaji), Kala Bhairavar (Protector of Time), Hanuman, Muneeswaran, Madurai Veeran, Bhuvaneswari, Saraswathi and Garudalvaar were brought from India in 2012 and have been carefully preserved for the official opening of the Temple.
“We also received the ‘Vahanas’ (Vehicles) of various Deities including Peacock, Mushik (mouse) and Nandi. Construction began during the same year. We believe that Madurai Veeran, the First Grama Devata (Patron Deity) of New Zealand, has been guiding us graciously since construction began in 2012,” he said.
As well as Poojas and Mahaprasad, the three-day Festival included vocal music and classical dance performances by local artistes.