Internationally inclined people might look forward to the annual Indian Festival presented from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 by the Hindu Temple and Heritage Hall of Toledo. This year's festival will be at Centennial Terrace, 5773 Centennial Rd., Sylvania and, as usual, will have Indian music, dance, food, merchandise, and other attractions. There is also a theme: “The Big Fat Indian Wedding.”
Spiritually inclined people might look to the three days prior to the festival, when the temple will observe a special religious event. To mark the temple's 25th anniversary, the congregation renovated the altar in the temple and will add three deities to the array, Lord Shree Venkateshwara, Goddess Durga, and Holy Shivalingam. The three days of ceremonies, Thursday through Aug. 9, are called Murti Pratistha Mahotsava, and the observance purifies, consecrates, and installs the deities, or forms of the Hindu gods.
A murti is what some people would call a statue, but the temple priest, Pandit Anankhumar B. Dixit, said, “Murtis are deities. Deliberately I'm not using the word statue.” Statues can be of anybody, but “when it comes to God or the divine manifestation of the divinity, we use the word murti, an image of God.”
Pandit Dixit said, “A murti can be made of anything. Stone, metal, wood, glass, or in a picture. When a spiritual seeker from any background, from any faith, when he or she approaches with due reverence and respect toward the supreme reality, he or she is not dealing with the inanimateness of the object. This is an aid for them to reconnect with the supreme reality, and once they reconnect through these murtis they can see the positive impact of the prayers and services that were performed.”
The murtis will be brought to the temple in a short public parade. On Thursday at 5:15 p.m. the congregation will gather with the murtis at the Sylvania Township Police Department, 4420 King Rd., and process ceremonially to the temple next door at 4336 King Rd. It's a short walk on a public street so “the whole town or the city will have a chance to see to the divine sight of the murti that is going to be installed,” Pandit Dixit said. “People will be carrying objects for celebration, and there will be chanting, music, and dancing to express their joy and gratitude that finally God is going to bless this temple and we will be blessed to have a divine person.”
When the murtis are at the temple, they will be on a stage in a tent outside. Priests from around the country will take part in the blessing of the murtis. “Water is also involved, all the holy rivers, Mississippi and Maumee and all the rivers are invoked to bless humanity at large,” Pandit Dixit said. The water will be sanctified, “and this energized water will be poured on the murtis” before they're installed in the altar.
Rituals will continue, and on Friday at 5:30 p.m. the murtis will be moved into the temple. “On Saturday morning all these murtis will be in place in their appropriate designated spots in the altar,” Pandit Dixit said, and then “mantras will be chanted to invoke the divine in the murtis, so now they are no more statues, they are no more stone, but divine in the form of this murti, and this is how we start worshiping.”
Then on Sunday, with the temple renovation and murti installation completed, the congregation can turn its attention to “The Big Fat Indian Wedding.” “You will see 80 percent of the Bollywood influence, you'll see all different kinds of classical dances and the folk dances,” Pandit Dixit said.