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Visit to Hindu temples in New York One of the most interesting aspects of my job is that it makes me travel, something that I always loved to do. During my recent trip, I was in New York with an assignment to document the cultural backgrounds and the heritages of the Hindu temples…
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Hence discovering new avenues of mythology and knowing peculiar but amazing facts about the believes of Hindus. On the morning of November 1st 2011, I packed my bags and was out for a trip to New York, probably the most busy and populated cities of USA. My trip mainly aimed at visiting the various Hindu temples in the city and jotting my experiences as this was my field work. I got a list of the Hindu temples as a part of my assignment that I had to cover. My first visit on 2nd November, 2011 was to the Ganesha Temple, located in 45-57 Bowne street, New York. It was small frame temple, was completed in the initial days of 1977. I then came to learn the deity worshipped was that of the elephant god, who is known as Ganesha. The idol of the deity is gorgeously dressed. As per the traditional Hindu belief, Lord Ganesha's blessings are indispensible for success in all mundane affairs. So Ganesha puja is supposed to be an essential part, before any Hindu religious activity. Customarily carried out be it a marriage or any other ritual. As per Hindu Mythology, Lord Ganesha is the first son of Lord Shiva and Universal Mother Goddess Parvati and is an embodiment of knowledge. As per traditional belief, Lord Ganesha was beheaded during the time of his birth, however instead of a human head his head was replaced by that of an elephant. Despite the fact that this is a mythological anecdote, what really amazes me is how the story is mingling with so many Hindus sentiments and how it has got a profound influence on the way of life of a devout Hindu. The daily rituals of Pujas are performed with utmost sincerity and full devotion, both in the temple, and as also I came to learn, as a daily way of life of many Hindus here in New York, although they are miles away from their home country. In addition to the daily rituals, the weekend services are conducted by volunteer priests. Structurally, the temple follows the guidance laid down in the Hindu scriptures for temple building, also known as the Agama Shastra in Sanskrit. Agama Shastra also provides a departure from the traditionally accepted ways of religious conduct and worship that has been laid down in the main body of Hindu scriptures of Vedas, Upanishads, Epics and Puranas. My next visit was to the Om Sai Mandir, located in the heart of the city at 45-11 Smart Street. c. The temple is open from early morning till late evening, and contains the idol Sri Sai Baba. All visitors were welcome to visit the temple and seek the Baba's blessings, whether they were devout followers of the Guru or not. Sai Baba is a real life figure, who preached his faith to his followers during historical times. This is in contrast to Lord Ganesha, whose originates from Hindu mythology. He was a spiritual saint, a fakir (beggar). His followers believe that he helped his contemporaries and disciples with his miracles. The Baba is a Hindu Guru, a mystic philanthropist as well as educator of religious virtues. In the religious teachings of the Baba, one witnesses a blend of Hindu and Muslim beliefs and ways of life. So, like the Sufi Movement, the preaching of the Baba heralds the confluence of both Hindus and Muslims religious thoughts. To my surprise this is the place one can say, this temple occupies a position of importance for people of both the faiths who live here in New York, be their origin in India or in other countries of the sub-continent like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Seeing the personalities and faiths of religious leaders
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