News East West
TORONTO: In the first Hindu religious ceremony of this scale ever held in Toronto, over 150 priests chanted the Maha Rudram 1331 times during three days from August 12 at Sringeri Vidya Bharathi Foundation (SVBF) in Etobicoke here.
“This religious event was the first of its kind in Canada and it brought so much positive energy to the people and the Shringeri temple,’’ said volunteer Ravishankar Hulikal.
Maha Rudram Yajna is one of the highest forms of community worship performed for Lord Shiva. It is considered the most sacred and powerful among all the Maha Yagnas in Hinduism.
Hundreds of people attended the ceremonies each day, starting at 7.00 am and concluding at 8.00 pm.
Among the prominent people who attended the auspicious event were Dinesh Bhatia, India consul-general; Dipika Damerla, minister for seniors affairs; Shafiq Qaadri, parliamentary assistant to the minister for immigration and citizenship; and Councillor Michael Ford.
“Among the 150 priests who chanted the Maha Rudram everyday, about 20 came from various parts of the US, three or four came India and many came from various places in Canada,’’ said Ravishankar Hulikal.
Explaining the significance of the Maha Rudram, Sringeri temple chairman Yegnasubramanian said, “Rudram is from the Yajurveda. Its chanting cleanses our sins. It is also chanted for the well being of everyone.’’
Organic cow milk and butter (ghee) were used for the ceremonies.
“For ceremonies, the temple got 20 kilos of pure ghee for havan from the Hare Krishna Temple in West Virginia in the US. For abhishek, organic milk was brought from Shringeri Temple Philadelphia. Gangajal (water of the holy Ganga) was brought from India,’’ according to Raghu Ranganathan who is a volunteer for religious affairs at the temple.
Cultural performances and talks were added to this religious event to make it `interesting’ for the attendees.
In fact, Bharathanatyam by the Sri Sanskriti Dance Academy was one of major the highlights on the second day.
“At Sringeri, when we plan religious events, we try to blend them with cultural events. It is done to make proceedings interesting for everyone. The special Bharathanatyam performance was applauded by everyone. Then we have `prabachan’ – spiritual talk by Dushyant Shridhar,’’ said Thiagarajan Swaminathan, who is a trustee of the temple as well as a priest at the ceremonies.
Opened in 2010, the Sringeri temple in Etobicoke has become a pre-eminent Hindu spiritual cultural center in North America. Called the Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation (SVBF) Canada, it is an overseas affiliate of Sri Sharada Peetham at Sringeri in India.
Sringeri temple president Dr V.I.Lakshamanan, who is also a known clean-energy scientist, added, “At Sringeri, we have not only a spiritual centre, but also a community and cultural centre which serves our all communities by organizing health events, yoga classes and spiritual training.”
“The next level of community chanting is Ati Rudram which is 14,641 chants of the Rudram. We may plan it in the foreseeable future, but it will require a lot of planning and lots of priests,’’ said Ravishankar Hulikal.