Rising above the trees on the outskirts of Helensburgh is this majestic white temple, with ornate carvings of sacred cows adorning the roof and tower. Founded in 1978, the temple services the spiritual needs of thousands of devotees, many of whom make a special pilgrimage to the temple to make offerings and participate in ceremonial rituals (pujas). About 20 major festivals are held a year, with the temple exploding into a vibrant whirl of colour, music and fragrance as statues are paraded around, accompanied by musicians, priests and chanting crowds. The Ganesh festival in early September is a local highlight, attracting more than 10,000 visitors in one day and finishing at Stanwell Park beach, where clay idols of the elephant-headed god are thrown into the ocean. Visitors can also enjoy a contemplative walk through the halls to admire the decorated statues and shrines or watch the women weaving fresh flower garlands (Wednesday and Thursday mornings).
On weekends and public holidays Indian food is available at the outdoor canteen (10am-4pm). Entry is free and donations are gratefully accepted.
- Report by Louise Charman-James, of Soul Signature