Tuesday March 26, 2019

Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield plans $2.7 million project for its expansion in Illinois, USA

17 murtis or idols of deities like Mahlakshmi, Venkateswara, Radha-Krishna, Rama-pariwar and Shiva-lingam, each costing $100,000 will be brought from India

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The Hindu Temple Of Greater Springfield Image Source: allhindutemples.com
  • HTGS is a non-profit organization established in 2007 which aims “to preserve and promote the Hindu Religion, culture, and philosophy”, to open and conduct worship daily
  • The entire complex will be built based on the traditional Indian Vastu Shasta principles
  • A new prayer hall with a basement that could provide space for cultural events has been planned

The Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield (HTGS) in Chatham (Illinois, USA) has reportedly planned $2.7 million expansion project. The announcement has come during the four-day celebration of the eighth anniversary of HGTS, from August 4- 8 August, this year in 2016.

HTGS is a non-profit organization established in 2007 which aims “to preserve and promote the Hindu Religion, culture, and philosophy”, to open and conduct worship daily. Various study circles, religious education classes, discourses, celebrations of festivals, religious activities, community service projects, and cultural events are also undertaken by this organization.

According to merinews.com, the northwest of the temple structure was earlier a Baptist Church, that will be rebuilt. A new prayer hall with a basement could provide space for cultural events. The entire complex will be built based on the traditional Indian Vastu Shasta principles. An architect from India will be brought in to assist the project. 17 murtis or idols of deities like Mahalakshmi, Venkateswara, Radha-Krishna, Rama-Pariwar and Shiva-lingam, each costing $100,000 will be brought from India.

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Image Source: HGTS
Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield Anniversary Celebrations. Image Source: HGTS

The salient features of the newly proposed plan are Raja Gopuram, individual deity gopurams with kalashas which will cost about $300,000, a Havan room, an immersion pond with the fountain which is expected to cost about $100,000), and an Utsav Pallaki.

The 60th/80th birthday, which is celebrated in a grand manner in India costs $251 at the temple. The child-naming ceremony costs $51, mundan (tonsure) ceremony costs $31 and vehicle pooja costs $25. The important dignitaries are Keshava Shastry, who is the Priest, Dr. Kartik

The important dignitaries are Keshava Shastry, who is the Priest, Dr. Kartik Mani and Gopal Reddy, who are the Trustees’ Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively; Dr. Krishna Rao and Shipra Somani are Executive Committee President and Vice-President respectively.

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The eighth-anniversary celebrations will last for four full days and will be free and open to the public. The celebrations will conclude on August seven and will include performing various rituals like kalasha sthapana, archanas, bhajans, Srinivasa Kalyana Utsavam, arathis, abhishekams, discourse, homam/ havan, kanakabhishekam and many cultural programs and a vegetarian food mela, said merinews.com reports.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism and a distinguished Hindu statesman appreciated the temple leaders and the Hindu community for realizing this Hindu temple complex. In a statement in Nevada, he said that it was important to pass on spirituality, the ideals and traditions of Hinduism to the coming generations in a time when the community has become materialistic. He hopes that this temple would help in this direction.

Zed also stressed on the need to reflect upon one’s actions and realize the true power of the Self and work towards achieving the ultimate goal of human life, that is Moksha (Liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths.)

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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  • AJ Krish

    It is great that the Hindus abroad continue their rich tradition. Wherever they are, they continue to follow the Hindu dharma.

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“They Don’t Make Prayerful Offerings When They Harvest,” Story Of The Native American Church

“The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

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The sun sets over the gateway of peyotera Amada Cardenas's house in Mirando City, Texas. Ironwork reflects core Native American Church values of faith, hope, love and charity. VOA

Back in the day, when the “grandmas and grandpas” of the Native American Church (NAC) needed peyote, they would make a 2,000-kilometer pilgrimage from the reservations of South Dakota to the tiny town of Mirando City, Texas, close to the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s where they could find Amada Cardenas, a Mexican-American woman who at the time was the only peyote dealer in Texas.

Cardenas was not Native American, nor was she a member of the NAC. But she understood how sacred the medicine was to church members and defended its use as a religious sacrament to those who sought to ban it.

Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994.
Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994. VOA

“After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

“They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

In 2013, NACNA began researching ways to conserve peyote and its natural habitat.

Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico.
Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico. VOA

Pan-Native religion

Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a succulent that contains psychoactive alkaloids and only grows in southern Texas and a handful of states in northern Mexico.

Indigenous people have used it ceremonially and medicinally for centuries, as noted by 16th century Spanish missionaries, who condemned it as an evil. Peyote use persisted, however, and by the late 1800s, had spread to present-day Oklahoma, where tribes adapted it to suit their individual spiritual traditions.

In the face of government efforts to ban peyote, peyotists in the early 20th century sought to incorporate as a formal religion. In 1918, an intertribal group established the NAC, which has evolved to include tens of thousands of members across dozens of tribal nations. Members view the church as an important component of healing from historic trauma and reconnecting to tradition.

Peyote was banned in the United States in 1970, but the law was later amended to allow peyote to be used in “bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.”

Texas allows several peyoteros registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to harvest and sell peyote, but only to card-carrying NAC members with proven Native American ancestry.

Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007.
Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007. VOA

‘A beautiful ceremony’

Unlike other religious denominations, said Iron Rope, the NAC is not a unified theology.

“Different variations of the ceremony have come into play,” he said. “There are Christian aspects to the NAC today and traditional aspects, as well.”

Wynema Morris, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and an NAC member, grew up with an understanding of the sacredness of peyote and the religious etiquette surrounding its use.

“It was my own grandfather, Samuel Thomas Gilpin, who actually received peyote early on from the Winnebagos, a neighboring tribe, and passed it on to his sons, my uncles,” she said.

This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled "Cheyenne Peyote Leader." Courtesy: Library of Congress.
This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled “Cheyenne Peyote Leader.” Courtesy: Library of Congress. VOA

Peyote is much misunderstood and maligned, she said, viewed by many anthropologists through the lens of colonial prejudice.

“I don’t like their use of the word ‘hallucinations,’” she said. “You don’t use peyote to get high. You use it to pray and communicate with God — the same God everyone else talks to.”

She described all-night services of prayer, song and meditation.

“The ceremony is beautiful,” she said. “The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

Sacred gardens

In 2013, NACNA began looking at ways to conserve and sustain peyote for future generations of indigenous Americans, Mexicans and Canadians.

“It was our intent to eventually have our own land and be able to have our own peyote dealer who could understand our concerns as the Native American Church,” said Iron Rope.

The sun sets over "the 605," acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church.
The sun sets over “the 605,” acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church. VOA

In 2017, NACNA and partner organizations formally launched the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI). With funding from the Riverstyx Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research of medicinal uses of psychoactive plants, IPCI purchased 245 hectares (605 acres) of land in Thompsonville, Texas, to serve as “Sacred Peyote Gardens.”

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It is their hope that by 2021, “the 605” will house a nursery, residential and guest housing, and youth training, all supported by peyote sales.

“It’s about generations to come,” said Iron Rope. “To reconnect them to the land and to the medicine. And that’s the healing process that we’ve been missing.” (VOA)