SOUTH JORDAN — From youths performing Indian classical dance and song to priests conducting Hindu rituals, this weekend’s Maha Kumbhabhishekam festival is an opportunity for Utahns to learn about their Indian-American neighbors.
All are welcome to the celebration, which will culminate with the rededication of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah, which has been significantly expanded and renovated, said Savithry Mahalingam, treasurer of the temple’s board of trustees.
The elaborate ceremonies, which began Thursday and conclude Sunday with the temple dedication, “will homogenize, synergize and unite the mystic power of the deities while consecrating the deities in the newly expanded temple,” she said.
Primarily, the festival marks an occasion of purification and rejuvenation, said Venka Subramanyan, a member of the event's steering committee.
Maha Kumbhabhishekam, the rededication of the temple, is performed once every 12 years. Sanctified vessels containing sacred waters will be carried to the top of the top of the temple spire or Gopuram and poured over the shining spires called kalashas. This ceremony dedicates the temple.
The events, which also include cultural events and regional booths, start Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the temple and Indian Cultural Center, 1142 W. South Jordan Parkway.
Saturday's events include rituals for the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. A special pooja, or prayer ritual, will be performed for Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva on Saturday night.
The expansion of the temple and construction of the 40-foot Gopuram is the culmination of years of work for Hindus in Utah, who organizers say number about 5,000.
To understand the significance of the temple rededication, the parents of many Indian-American who emigrated to the United States over the past four decades have traveled to Utah to be part of the festivities, Mahalingam said.
The construction of a Hindu Temple in Utah had been in the planning stages since 1993. The original temple was consecrated in 2003.
The temple expansion began in 2012. It doubled the size of the existing temple hall and includes individual shrines for Hindu ditties, an expanded entrance and courtyard and construction of the Gopuram in the front of the temple.
The project also includes new priests quarters to better accommodate the faith community's three full-time priests, who are from India.
The project, budgeted at $2.65 million, was led by the Temple Development Committee. NJRA Architects designed the expanded temple and tower, and it has been built by Hunt Construction.
Mahalingam said a growing number of Indian-American are relocating to Utah and surrounding states. The temple expansion reflects that growth.
Some are university students or professionals. "The economy here is great. There a lot of jobs here," she said. "Salt Lake City has a lot to offer."
It is also a comfortable place for to practice their faith, she said.
“We are very lucky to be in a community that is very welcoming, very opening to other cultures."