‘The Gods Will Be Present’

‘The Gods Will Be Present’
Ancient ceremony blesses site where Hindu temple will stand
Rosa Salter Rodriguez
The Journal Gazette

The scent of sandalwood and the sound of chanting punctuated by “Om” filled the air last week at a site in western Allen County where devotees plan to erect the first permanent Hindu temple in Fort Wayne.

About 300 supporters of the new Omkaar Temple gathered in folding chairs under a red and white-striped tent for two days of Bhoomi Puja, or ground-blessing ceremonies, on Oct. 10 and 11.

During the ceremonies, orange and saffron-robed Hindu holy men hoped to draw positive energies to the site at 13900 Yellow River Road, says Dr. Jyothirmai Reddy, of Fort Wayne, an obstetrician/gynecologist and temple benefactor.

Reddy says plans include a small temple and a holistic health center. She says she hopes the building will be finished by 2010.

Reddy also says she hopes the site will become a gathering place for Hindus and non-Hindus alike.

She wants residents to be able to learn meditation techniques and yoga at the site and participate in massage and other therapies, including some based on eastern Ayurvedic medicine. She also plans to offer free health checks.

The temple’s purpose is to promote what Reddy calls “self-consciousness,” or mindful spirituality.

“In order to have more self-consciousness we need a center where we can congregate and meditate and teach,” she says.

Reddy says the temple’s name is derived from the most sacred word for Hindus, “Om,” which is believed to be the sound uttered at the creation of the universe.

“Omkaar is the base source of all religions, the most ancient and yet the modern manifestation of spiritual consciousness,” Reddy says.

She says she is a follower of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a contemporary Hindu religious teacher in Puttaparthi, India. He preaches universal love, human equality and service to all, Reddy says.

By some, he is believed to be a reincarnated deity and has announced himself as such.

A portrait of Sathya Sai Baba was placed by the ceremonial platform, but Reddy says the local effort is not formally affiliated with his international association.

“It is from my heart,” as an individual follower, she says.

Plans for the site would make it similar to Sai Baba’s home base, which includes a free hospital, an ashram for teaching and a temple.

During the ceremonies, attendees approached a foot-high platform covered with rugs and prayer mats to offer nine gems to be placed in a time capsule in the earth.

“The theory is that we put good in and it will cause good vibrations, good energy,” Reddy says.

Under the direction of Chief Guruji Kumarasway Dixitar of Sri Raja Ganapathi Temple in Swedesboro, N.J., priests chanted separate prayers as water, rice, honey, flowers, seeds and nuts, sweets, incense, clothing and ornaments, among other items, were offered. Posters of Hindu deities lined the tent walls.

The ceremonies were performed according to ancient traditions for structures and architecture. The timing was selected according to sacred Vedic calendars, Reddy says.

She says a groundbreaking service will be held later at the site, which is now a wooded area surrounded by cornfields.

Vish Gurudutt, president of the Fort Wayne Bhajan Society, says there are about 250 Hindu families in the Fort Wayne area.

Gurudutt, who attended the recent ceremonies, says families have been meeting about 25 years and have had a formal altar the past five years at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne, 5310 Old Mill Road. But it is not considered a permanent temple, he says.

Dr. Praven Kollipara of Fort Wayne says people traveled great distances to attend the ground-blessing.

The temple will become the second permanent Hindu site in Indiana, with the other in Indianapolis, he says.

“This (ceremony) is important to us because we believe this means the gods will be present here.”


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