I visited a Hindu temple for the first time ever yesterday. I have a strong interest in Hinduism and have studied it for a while, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to visit the temple. I arrived at the Sri Ganesha Temple of Anchorage sometime around 11:00am and immediately noticed the large statues of Ganesha, Rama and Sita, and another goddess whom I later found out is called Durga. The few people who were there then welcomed me warmly, but I wasn’t surprised at all to feel totally out of my element. So, I took a seat and maintained a respectful silence while those folks prepared for their service. I expected most of those attending to be Indian of course, but not everyone was. The one man there who wasn’t quickly realized that I was new to this whole experience, and he took the time to walk me through what was going on. He didn’t give me a choice about participating, but he did briefly explain what we were doing and what the meaning of it was.
After the puja (worship) was over, we enjoyed a vegetarian meal. My new friend and I talked for a while and I discovered that he has had some involvement with the Hare Krishna movement. Since I have heard the bad press about them from (Christian and therefore obviously very biased) anti-cult groups, I felt a bit cautious but my friend put at least some of my fears to rest. I look forward to seeing him again next Sunday and continuing our conversation.
It would be hard for me to describe in words what I participated in yesterday as far as the worship ceremonies go since I barely understood it all, but I found a video that should at least give you an idea of what occurs in a Hindu temple:
This video is helpful too, if you want to have a puja at home:
This video I have posted before, but it is a beautiful hymn to the Divine Mother.