‘To See the Temple Is to See the Gods’

A 1978 Dream Is Realized as Vishnu House of Worship in Lanham Is Dedicated
Washington Post, July 7, 2003
By Hamil R. Harris, Washington Post Staff Writer

Thousands of Hindu families gathered at Sri Siva Vishnu temple in Lanham yesterday to celebrate the completion of a multimillion-dollar structure that is one of the symbols of their faith.

The Kumbhabhishekam (dedication) ceremony concluded five days of cultural events and religious services.

“This is one of the most auspicious Hindu ceremonies — to see the consecration of a temple,” said V.S. Raghavan, chairman of the board of trustees of the Vishnu temple. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most Hindus.”

C. Dhananjayan, president of the temple, and K.G. Venkatraman, trustee emeritus, shared the strong sense of pride and celebration among the leaders of the temple, who provide spiritual guidance for a local Hindu community that is in the tens of thousands.

Dhananjayan, a civil engineer who lives in Centreville, said it was “the fulfillment of a dream” that began in 1978, when a group of people came together to build a temple.

Venkatraman said that according to Hindu tradition, every 12 years temples are renovated and re-sanctified, during which 17 deities are elaborately laid out and re-consecrated. He said that in addition to the renovations, two more temple towers were opened and dedicated for the first time.

Prasad Kadambi, chairman of the temple’s board of trustees, said that devotees dedicated the Sri Ayyappa Gopuram tower that represents “the feet of the gods. For each of our deities we have a tower.” He said the other tower, the Sri Venkateswara Gopuram, represents the feet of another deity. The towers, above the brilliantly white building, have elaborate carvings that were done by artisans who came from India.

As they posed for photos in front of the temple, Srinivasa and Rama Kolluru and their 9-year-old son, Raj, said it was very important to take part in the celebration. “It is very nice, and it is very cultural,” Rama Kolluru said. Her husband added, “We like to visit the temple on all occasions because this is a very special place.”

In addition to the families from across the Washington area who attended, there were those from many other states. Sri Nivasan a 28-year-old software publisher from San Antonio, said it was important to take part in the event because “to see the temple is to see the gods.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 9, 2003.
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