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Festival of India
Amidst the rhythmic Indian music, expressive dancing, and spicy culinary delights being offered this weekend at the Festival of India, members of the local Hindu community will be offering prayers and performing a number of religious ceremonies at the Hindu Temple of Toledo.
For devout Hindus, spirituality is something to be pursued without pause, according to Pandit Anantkumar B. Dixit, spiritual leader of the temple that serves 500 area families.
"Worship is a full-time awareness of the reality, not a part-time ritual," Pandit Dixit said. "Yagna - which comes from the sanskrit word 'Yag,' to worship, to sacrifice, to unite - should go on all the time through actions and perceptions."
This month marks the 15th anniversary of the Hindu Temple and Heritage Hall, which opened on a 15-acre parcel on King Road in Sylvania Township in August, 1989.
A number of special events are being held this year in honor of the 15th anniversary.
In July, a special yagna took place on the temple grounds that included purification fires set up in 27 fireplaces beneath a 60-by-90-foot tent, Pandit Dixit said, adding that celebrants came from as far away as Los Angeles and Toronto to participate.
This weekend's Festival of India includes several special pujas, or prayers, including one held last night honoring Sri Ganesha, the Hindu god of attendants.
Prayers to Sri Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, help remove obstacles to spiritual awakening, Pandit Dixit said.
"Man has fallen from his supreme state of peace and bliss to his limited existence of sorrow and misery," he said. "By spiritual awakening, one can regain his or her original glory. Spiritual awakening is the most important aspect for human beings."
Without spiritual evolution, human beings can achieve neither happiness nor prosperity, the pandit said, because "all the material possessions cannot make the human mind peaceful."
Hindus participate in the Sri Ganesha Yagna "to bring this awakening all over the world, and for the good of mankind, for the removal of all kinds of obstacles," said Pandit Dixit, who became the pandit, or spiritually learned leader, of the temple in January, 1998.
The Hindu Temple of Toledo was the first in Ohio to be shared by Hindus and Jains. Jainism, one of the oldest religions in the world, claims roots to 2,500 B.C. and there is much overlap with Hinduism. About 200 Jains live in the Toledo area.
Religious ceremonies during the Festival of India include:
w● Srinivasa Kalyanam, a prayer to Lord Vishnu, 8:30 a.m. today;
w● Satyanarayan puja, a gesture of gratefulness, 11:30 a.m. today;
w● Aarati, the offering of a sacred flame, 12:30 p.m. today;
w● Mahavir puja, offering by Jain devotees, 9:30 a.m. tomorrow;
w● Havan, invoking the presence of Lord Agni in fire, 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Tours of the Hindu Temple and Heritage Hall of Toledo, 4336 King Rd., Sylvania, will be offered 2 to 3 p.m. each day during the festival, which will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. tomorrow. Admission is free. During the rest of the year, Hindu services are from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, followed by a community lunch. Information: 419-843-4440.
- David Yonke