Shri Ganesha Mandir of Alaska
By Mala Kalyan
Om Gam Ganapataye Namah! On Wednesday, January 13, 1999 at 1:08 PM, the three-foot idol of Lord Ganesha in black granite arrived in Anchorage after its long journey over land and sea from India. The time of arrival was indeed very auspicious, since the number 108 is considered a very sacred number in Vedic philosophy. Every puja consists of 108 Namavali Archana (the 108 names describing various attributes).
This great event was preceded by a prayer meeting every two weeks at the Safehaven Community hall for over a year by a group of devout Hindus. This led to the donation of the idol by Satguru Shri Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of the Kauai Aadheenam in Hawaii, with the intentions of establishing the northernmost Hindu temple in the U.S.A. Thanks to the grace and benevolence of this great seer, we now have a temple in Alaska!
Immediately, a fundraiser was arranged to raise money for the idol’s transportation to the U.S.A. This was done by way of a classical Indian dance concert on the 20th of September 1998 performed by Rathna Kumar of the Anjali School of Dance of Houston, Texas. The concert was a huge success and Rathna performed to a full house. The Sri Ganesha Mandir has also organized other fundraisers, including a couple of Food Festivals which raised over $3,000 each, and each of which had the Anchorage community clamoring for more bhel-poori, pani-poori, ragda-patties, idlis, dosas, sambar and all of the other scrumptious and exotic dishes that were served!
In June of 1999, Satguru Shri Sivaaya Subramuniyaswami himself came to Anchorage, along with his entourage, to bless our new Temple. There was an elaborate Homam (fire ritual) to which the native elders of Alaskan tribes were invited. There were over 150 attendees on this auspicious occasion of the puja by the priests of the Kauai Aadheenam.
In September of 1999, the temple held another fundraiser – this time, a classical Indian guitar concert by R. Prasanna, accompanied by Poovalur Srinivasan on the mridangam. The Mandir also organizes special pujas for Shivaratri, Navrathri, Diwali, and other such Hindu festivals. Full Abhishekams (showering) have been performed to Lord Ganesha on occasions, with a hall full of devotees. It is indeed a beautiful sight to see the Lord bathed in milk, honey, and sandalwood paste! Abhishekams are conducted twice a year, once on Ganesha Chaturthi Day and again in January. We will be asking you for donations of the various offerings needed for this elaborate ritual of worship.
In May of 2002, a local devotee family donated deities of Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman in white marble. These deities have been a great addition to the temple. A temple is a very precious heritage to give to our children and their children. It will teach future generations to keep alive the ancient teachings of a very old religion, nay, a “way of life”, namely Sanatana Dharma - the eternal path.
We also have a “Bal Vikas” for children that is run by parent volunteers. The Bal Vikas has covered a lot of ground in the past couple of years, and the children are truly benefiting from this class. The “Bal Vikas” meets twice a month on Sundays at the temple from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. Regular Puja is offered every Sunday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm followed by Aarathi and Prasad.
Devotees have offered “non-stop readings” (“Akhanda Paat”) of the Ramayana and the Bhagavat Gita, by reading through the day and night for 24 to 36 hours.
The Temple Committee thanks each and every one of you for your help, attendance, participation and contributions to the Temple. This includes those who have moved out of Alaska after contributing to the Temple, as well as the many that are new to our community. May the blessings of Lord Ganesha be with you and your near and dear ones during this festive season.
Wishing you and your family all a very Happy Diwali.