Temples have become a key aspect in Hindu religion. The temple is the focus for all aspects of everyday life in the Hindu community – religious, cultural, educational and social. Hindus believe that their lives are merely stages in the progression to ultimate enlightenment. The temple is a place where God may be approached and where divine knowledge can be discovered. All aspects of the Hindu temple focus on the goal of enlightenment and liberation – the principles of design and construction, the forms of its architecture and decoration, and the rituals performed.
The temple is designed to dissolve the boundaries between man and the divine. The principal shrine should face the rising sun and so should have its entrance to the east. Movement towards the sanctuary, along the east-west axis and through a series of increasingly sacred spaces is of great importance and is reflected in the architecture. Not ever temple is the same, each one focuses on their own individual themes. Most Hindus worship over alters in their homes and at temples. Family altars are used for daily prayers. Temples are sought out for important matters or big events and occasions.
Hindu temples are “artificial mountains” built as objects of worship built to enshrine the image of a chosen deity. The Upanishads described them as a place “at the heart of this phenomenal world, within all its changing forms, dwells the unchanging Lord. ” Temples are generally not places where worshipers come to listen to sermons. Instead they are places where people come to engage in individual worship with deities and socialize with other people that they meet there. In the old days only kings, Brahmin priests and important nobles were allowed inside temples.
Even today non-Hindus are generally not allowed to enter Hindu temple. Hindu temples typically consist of a prayer hall called a mandapa and a sanctuary, inner sanctum, or central shrine called a garbhargriha . The sanctuary contains an icon of the Hindu deity the temple is dedicated to and is off limits to everyone but priests at the temple. Around the sanctuary and prayer hall is a covered space for worshipers to walk in a clockwise fashion. The focus of a temple is the inner sanctum, which sits on elevated platform below the central tower.
It is the most sacred part of the temple and symbolizes a womb. The icon in the sanctuary can either be statue or image of the god or a symbol of the god such as a linga representing Shiva so there can be a force of sacred energy. Within the temple are shrines dedicated to other gods. They are often arranged in a very specific order and worshipers proceed from one shrine to the next in the order that is intended by the temple builder. Situated around the main temples are smaller secondary shrines dedicated to other gods or avatars that are consorts of the god the temple is dedicated to.
Temples are scattered all over the world but recently it came to my knowledge that there is a local Hindu temple. There is a temple located in Rochester, NY that is much different then any temple known to man. The first difference is that they have only one area that contains an alter, shrines and statues go gods, brahmins and avatars. The most important thing to notice is that in the alter area the is a Jesus on the cross, some suras from the Quran, and a statue of the star of David hanging on the wall. This was added into the temple because they wanted people to realize that no one religion is better then the other.
Once arriving into the praying area one can see many statues, an alter and pictures of people on the walls. The first thing that one must understand is that the main alter is in the shape of a female lying down on her back. There is the head which is depicted as as a face, left ear which is an elephant and the right ear as a water dropping. Another thing is that the alter took in the bust of the female in the main alter. The reason why the alter is depicted as a female is because of the views of the man who created the temple. He believed that when children gather together they do it more when the mother calls then when the father calls.
As well as the female body the hips and shoulders are added on by other statue areas in order to show the importance of God. Every individual statue is depicted of an important deity who used to be a person. One important detail to be aware of is that every God that Hindus pray to used to be people. They become Gods because they are able to do something that is bigger then themselves. Lastly, another component to be aware of is that the pictures of people on the walls are that of important Brahmins that effected the head man of this temple.
All together this temple is different than many others because of how they approach each individual shrine. There are two major factors that causes this temple to be looked down upon. The first is that the man in charge of the temple allows non Hindus inside. He believes that people need to understand and learn what the Hindu religion is about. He sees that every religion contains their own key features and people shouldn’t be arrogant of what is around them. This combination of non hindus and Hindus allows people to interact and see how different and similar they are.
The second and biggest reason this temple is looked down upon is by who does the cervices, women. Women are kept in the dark of services. Some are kept outside because it is either their menestrul cycle, pregnancy or they are not allowed because they are women. The man who created this temple believed that if women are not allowed in the temple then Hindus are keeping half of their population in the dark of their religion. He started that women are the head of the rituals because of how instrumental they are in society.
He is constantly looked down upon because he is trying to teach people about his religio as well as giving women the rights they should have. The temple located in Rochester, Ny is similar to many other temples but the differences causes them to be disliked. The man who created the temple wanted a place where people could pray and find God. Not only does he want to keep it solely Hindus he believes in teaching people about his faith. Not everyone understands what Hinduism is made of so his goal is to teach people so they are not ignorant.
For example during the rituals they give an offer to each of the deities. When the group of HWS students arrived they were unaware of what the fruit meant. Since going to the temple they now understand the purpose of the fruit as well as the reasons they receive an offering. The Hindu religion is ignored and unappreciated and the goal of this man is to spread the religion is away that allows people to be more aware of what their religion is really made up of. This temple is a way for people to learn, pray, and socialize in a healthy environment as well as learning more about themselves.