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New Hindu temple 'Ekta Mandir' and community center for Durban

New Hindu temple 'Ekta Mandir' and community center for Durban

Author: Fakir Hassen, Durban
Publication: India Abroad
Date: April 11, 2001

Thousands of guests from a number of countries are expected to attend the official opening of a new Hindu temple and community center here, which took the local Gujarati community nine years to complete.

The chief guest at the official opening of the Ekta Mandir and the Kendra Community Center in Sydenham Road will be Rameshbhai Ozha, a renowned kathakar (storyteller) of Hindu scriptures.

Other guests from India will include Swami Chidanandji Maharaj from the holy town of Haridwar and advocate Krishnakant Vakharia, president of the Ahmedabad-based Vishwa Gujarati Samaj. Reuben Tukhu, a member of the Theosophical Society, and Mooljibhai Pindolia, president of the All Africa Hindu Council, will arrive from Kenya.

The buildings are set to become a landmark in Durban for international visitors as well as for the estimated 750,000 Hindus descended from the first Indian settlers who arrived here in 1860 to work on the sugar plantations. The structure, in the shape of a Lotus flower, is a unique combination of Western and Eastern technology, art and building skills.

"Expert Western architectural planning has been fused with exquisite Eastern ornamentation and design," said P.L. Patel, president of the Gujarati Hindu Sanskruti Kendra, which undertook the massive task. The detailed ornamentation and decor is based on traditional designs found at ancient temples in India and were designed and built by artisans brought from India.

The four-day celebration to mark the opening of the temple and community center begins on Friday with a Rath Shoba Yatra (float procession) through the streets of Durban. The city is expected to become a sea of men in white and women dressed in red, green and white as they join the procession.

Besides a brigade, drum majorettes and bedecked horses, there will be nine ornately decorated floats, each led by a group of folk dancers and singers. The float procession will display idols that were brought in from India before the dignitaries officially install them at the temple.

Besides the religious activities, there will also be cultural entertainment programs over the four days, and on Monday there will be a two-hour public symposium on the challenges facing the Hindu society.

"The completion of this project is a tribute to the many men and women who sacrificed their services to raise funds to ensure the success of the project," said Patel. "Their efforts have resulted in the realization of a dream," he added.

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