This week the Indian community will be celebrating their new Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield, the Shree MahaLakshmi Temple, located in Chatham. Starting Oct. 13 and lasting through Oct. 17, events will include religious and cultural programs, Indian classical dance, and music. The public is welcome.
The culminating event on Oct. 17 will be the MahaKumbhabhisekham ceremony which dedicates and consecrates the temple. This ritual, which dates back hundreds of years, includes pouring sacred water from a great vessel: Maha (great), kumbha (water holder), abhisekham (sanctification with water).
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion in the world. Hindus believe in one god, Brahma, but honors other gods and goddesses, depending on one's sect/denomination. Gopal Reddy, the chair of the temple board, explains that the groups "have the freedom to choose which of the deities they wish to honor."
That is something that had to be considered when designing the new temple. The Indian community represents many different denominations.
The temple, which is around 8,000 square feet, will serve as the main religious area with shrines (called Garbgalayas) honoring Hindu deities such as Sri Mahalaxmi, Sri Balaji, Sri Rama, and others. A 10-foot-wide passage connects the temple to a community building that spans an additional 8,000 square feet. The community building has five classrooms, a kitchen and an auditorium which will allow for festivals, weddings and other events. A free clinic open to the public is planned.
The plans for the temple began a few years ago. Groundbreaking occurred in April 2018, and construction started in October 2019. Reddy says, "The whole Indian community has been involved, not just one person or group."
The exterior is not fully completed.
The Oct. 17 event will be from 8 a.m. to noon, followed by a boxed lunch, and is open to the public. The temple is located at 1001 W. Walnut, Chatham.