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HomeNewsOn Hawaii island, the West’s solely all-granite, hand-carved Hindu temple | Faith

On Hawaii island, the West’s solely all-granite, hand-carved Hindu temple | Faith

It’s the solely all-granite, hand-carved Hindu temple within the West constructed with out energy instruments or electrical energy, and it’s nestled on one of many smaller islands in Hawaii surrounded by lush gardens and forests.

On the island of Kauai, the presence of the Iraivan Temple – a white granite edifice with gold-leafed domes, modelled after millennia-old temples in southern India – is surprising and beautiful. Lower than 1 p.c of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents are Hindus and on Kauai, the variety of Hindus might not even exceed 50, based on some estimates.

However that has not deterred the 2 dozen monks dwelling on the Kauai Aadheenam campus from being good neighbours and stewards of their religion, drawing pilgrims and seekers from across the globe. On this all-male temple-monastery advanced, the monks research and practise Shaivism, a serious custom inside Hinduism, which holds Lord Shiva because the supreme being.

One of many order’s monks, who has spent a long time supervising the temple’s development and tending to its gardens, is Paramacharya Sadasivanatha Palaniswami, who got here to the Kauai neighborhood of Kapaa in 1968 along with his instructor and the centre’s founder, the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

He says the Iraivan Temple was impressed by the founder’s mystical imaginative and prescient of Lord Shiva seated on a big boulder on these grounds. Its development started in 1990 and continued after the founder’s demise in 2001. The phrase “Iraivan” means “he who’s worshipped” in Tamil, a language spoken about 13,000km (8,000) miles away in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state.

The monks created a whole village in India for the artisans who hand-built the temple during the last 33 years, mentioned Palaniswami.

“Our guru believed that electrical energy brings a magnetic drive discipline and a psychic impression,” he mentioned. “It’s like when the facility goes out throughout a storm, one thing completely different occurs when there isn’t any electrical energy. There’s a sure quiet, a calmness.”

Illuminated solely by oil lamps, Iraivan has no followers or air-conditioning. Its architectural fashion is impressed by the Chola Dynasty, which dominated elements of India and Sri Lanka for about 1,500 years, beginning in 300 BC.

The principle deity is the 318kg (700-pound) quartz crystal shivalingam, an summary illustration of Shiva. The campus additionally homes Kadavul Temple devoted to Shiva within the cosmic dancer kind, or Nataraja.

Priest Pravinkumar Vasudeva arrived in March, when the temple – a formation of three,600 stones, pillars and beams made with roughly 3.2 million kilos of granite – was consecrated. He’s nonetheless amazed it stands on this tiny island.

“In India, you may presumably construct one thing like this, but it surely hasn’t been finished,” he mentioned. “Right here, it’s almost inconceivable, but it surely has been finished.”

Monks say the order started in 1948 with founder Subramuniyaswami, a former San Francisco ballet dancer who sought out a religious instructor. In northern Sri Lanka, Guru Yogaswami initiated him into Shaivism and instructed him to construct “a bridge between the East and the West”, mentioned Palaniswami, the garden-tending monk.

Based mostly in San Francisco in 1969, the founder “felt the sacred pull” of the Kauai property whereas on a retreat there, the monk mentioned. It was a rundown Tropical Inn resort on the time.

To native Hawaiians, the plot of land was often called Pihanakalani, or “the fullness of heaven”. Cognizant of that connection, Subramuniyaswami wished to verify the brand new temple aligned with native Hawaiian spirits.

So, 35 years in the past, he reached out to Lynn Muramoto, an area Buddhist chief who had navigated the same state of affairs. She is the president of the Lawai Worldwide Middle on Kauai, which is dwelling to 88 Shingon Buddhist shrines on an historic sacred website the place Hawaiians as soon as got here for therapeutic.

She visited the temple website with the late Abraham Kawai’i, a revered Hawaiian religious practitioner, or kahu, and witnessed the “deeply shifting” second when Kawai’i referred to as the placement “excellent”.

Sabra Kauka, a local Hawaiian cultural practitioner on Kauai, mentioned she was “a little bit aghast” to start with, however then consulted Aunty Momi Mo’okini Lum, her calabash aunt who’s descended from Moikeha, the chief from Tahiti who constructed Pihanakalani some 1,000 years in the past.

Lum instructed her the monks had the means to handle the land in perpetuity. “And so I laid down my issues,” she mentioned.

Kauka praised the monks’ landscaping, from plant selections to controlling invasive species.

“The actual fact that we have now individuals on this island who take care of our historic locations, realise the worth of them and are caring for them in an beautiful approach is exceptional,” Kauka mentioned.

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