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LAWRENCE: Dedication Sunday a major Hindu Event.

"SRI SHIRDI SAI BABA PRANA PRATHISHTAPANA CEREMONY -


NEW JERSEY, USA"
By Natalie Lescroart, Staff Writer
Posted: Monday, June 22, 2009 7:04 PM EDT

LAWRENCE — A Hindu priest will summon God into a stone statue of the Indian guru
and saint Shirdi Sai Baba as the Radha Krishna Temple concludes its momentous
Pranpratishtha event that is expected to draw participants from throughout central New
Jersey on Sunday.

Fifteen to 20 volunteers helped to carry the idol onto the temple grounds June 7 to
mark the commencement of the “Adhivasam,” or purification of the sculpture.

The nonprofit temple at 357 Lawrence Station Road, which Yogesh Sharma founded in
2001, is one of several providing central New Jersey’s growing Indian-American
population with places for worship, spiritual guidance and cultural events.

The June 28 ceremony is being viewed as particularly significant, as Pranpratishtha


ceremonies occur very infrequently. This one is believed to be a first for the area.

Ms. Sharma said that she and some of her volunteers felt that it would benefit the
community to bring a physical representation of their Hindu heritage and faith to Radha
Krishna Temple.

”This is the true representation of India,” said Sujata Kumar, a temple volunteer. “I
am involved here because I want my kids to see something they might not otherwise
see.”
The temple contacted a sculptor in Japiur, India, to have a murthi, or sacred
image, of Shirdi Sai Baba made and shipped to Lawrenceville.
According to Ms. Kumar, the marble idol stands 5 feet tall and weighs an
estimated 3 tons.

Many believe that Shirdi Sai Baba, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries, performed countless miracles and worked to reconcile the differences
between Hinduism and Islam. Ms. Kumar, a devotee of Baba, explained that they
specifically chose him for the Pranpratishtha because of his insistence on the notion
that God is one, and because of his efforts to create a communal harmony between
sects and religions.

Ms. Kumar explained that Baba’s unwavering respect for life complements the
objectives of the temple.
”This is a 21st century temple,” said Ms. Kumar. “It’s like a melting pot. All different
sects of Hinduism are here and coming together.”

Only after devotees of the idol immerse and bathe him in sacred substances—water,
milk, and grains— rest him in new garments and flowers on a specially prepared bed
and place gems and gold beneath his feet can the marble sculpture be placed and ready
for worship.
This Saturday the temple will take the last steps in the purification of the
idol, including the placement of the flowers and the gems, before the final idol
placement, or the Murthi Sthapana, on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. According to
ancient Vedic rituals, members of the temple will call to God and awaken him
within the Murthi.

Unless irreparably broken, the statue will remain indefinitely in place and available for
worship on the temple grounds.

Ms. Sharma and Ms. Kumar invited anyone interested, regardless of his or her
religion, to experience the Murthi Sthapana and to donate generously.

”When you have faith, you can come here and see him,” Ms. Kumar said.
Ms. Kumar, who left India in 1990, stressed that the Hindu religion establishes an
accepting “community” and a family of believers.
Before Ms. Sharma founded the Radha Krishna temple, Ms. Kumar had felt that she was
missing her family in America.

”What I missed here was my family,” she said. “At the temple, I found a bigger
family.”

Ms. Sharma said that there were other temples in the region before she began Radha
Krishna, many Hindus in the Lawrence area would worship at home rather than drive to
a temple outside the community.
Now at Radha Krishna Temple, worshippers can attend nightly “aarti” prayer services
lead in song by the temple’s new priest, Raja Gopal.

While Ms. Sharma and Ms. Kumar are happy to have Radha Krishna, they believe that
the Hindu community would thrive in New Jersey even without the buildings and the
idols.

”Hinduism stays in the heart, not just in the temples,” said Ms. Kumar.

Source
- http://centraljersey.com/articles/2009/06/22/the_princeton_packet/news/doc4a400a
4793bdd744558682.txt

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