Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sri Venkateswara Temple

Nestled in lush greenery stands the magnificent white divine abode of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Lakshmi, the Sri Venkateswara Temple. Situated aptly along Temple Road in the friendly small town of Helensburgh, it is a pleasant 1.5 hours drive from most parts of Sydney.

Providing other services such as weddings and vegetarian catering, the Hindu temple felt more like an 'indoor' building with the encircling walls. Unlike the temples back home, it felt slightly weird stepping 'inside' the temple.

As photography was prohibited inside, the best I could do was take a photo of the door that welcomes devotees and visitors to the temple. If you notice, there are bells attached to each square above the carving of the holy cow. I did not ask what it symbolized, which I should have.

Customarily, visitors and worshipers to Hindu temples are required to remove shoes and other footwear before entering. As I was wearing socks, I was unable to feel if the floor was dusty. I was assuming that it was, considering that I did not notice open outlets for the ash from the offerings to flow out of. Okay, so I am not supposed to assume...

Many devotees were seen with offerings for the prayer or 'puja', such as fruits, flowers and sweets. Some were seen donating money to the keeper at the information counter, presumably for the upkeep of the temple.

There was an interesting wooden pillar in the middle of the building, visible as you step in. Devotees were observed to tap the base of the pillar, then their foreheads in one movement, as a sign of respect. When asked, a helpful devotee explained that the pillar is their symbol of holiness and is where the holiness spreads.

Open seven days a week from 8:00am to 7:00pm and closed between noon and 4:00pm on weekdays, the temple exudes a calm aura for the lively community of Hindu devotees it serves. Like the water spouts above that ensure rainwater flows into the right channels, every care is taken to ensure that Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Lakshmi continue to be appeased and bestow their blessings on devotees.

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