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Dattatreya Temple celebrates five years

By SEETA PERSAD Sunday, April 20 2008

click on pic to zoom in
Swami Sachidananda at the temple in Orange Field....
Swami Sachidananda at the temple in Orange Field....

Standing at 85 feet in Carapichaima, Central Trinidad is the magnificient murti (statue) of Lord Hanuman which is the tallest statue in the Caribbean. One of the chief characters of the Ramayan (text of ), Shri Hanuman Hindus symbolises strength and wisdom.

The revered god who carries the face of a monkey is worshiped by millions the world over. Here in TT, the murti was initiated by India’s swami Ganapati Sachchidananda who is the spiritual head of this religious institution called the Dattatreya Yoga Centre (DYC).

This impressive temple site, constructed by artisans brought in from India, is now celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Since its inception in this tiny enclave of Central Trinidad the murti and the lavish temple have become attractions for faithful followers and curious visitors as well.

The Tourism Development Company (TDC) of TT has adopted this site as a tourist destination and it is named as one of the popular attractions of this country.

This past week the DYC has been buzzing with excitement as the temple is currently hosting the Shri Hanuman Heritage Festival and fifth anniversary celebrations. This started on April 10 and will come to an end today with an entire day of devotion as the Hindu community marks Hanuman Jayanti (the birth of Hanuman).

During the past ten days dignitaries from TT, Guyana, Suriname, Canada and India have been participating in religious activities.

Those from Trinidad: the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr Lenny Saith, Chairman of the Film Company Trinidad & Tobago Ralph Maraj and professor Clement Sankat, Pro Vice-Chancellor & the Principal of UWI.

Leaders of the various Hindu bodies are also participating in this event. They include Sat Maharaj of the Maha Sabha, Pundit Prakash Persad from Swaha and Raviji from the Hindu Prachar Kendra.

Among the visiting dignitaries are Ramdien Sardjoe, the vice-president of the Republic of Suriname, Sushmita Banerjee of Calcutta, India, Dr Raja Jose Luis who heads the Maharishi Vedic University in Holland, Swami Akasharananda of the Saraswati Vidya Institute in Guyana and Dr Parthasarathi of Bangalore, India.

Artistes from Trinidad were specially trained to join highly acclaimed international performers from Guyana, Suriname and India in song, dance and music. Several booths were set up with a wide variety of Indian merchandise, religious items, books, CDS, videos and photographs. A special vegetarian food court was also set up, with chefs from Trinidad, China and India preparing tasty dishes.

The atmosphere is alive with divinity as religious music coming from the sitar is heard and the scent of burning pitch pine wood mixed with the scent of incense fills the air in this countryside village. People of all walks of life are now finding their way to the temple to partake in the food and music at this time.

Swami Ganapathi Sachidananda who has hundreds of devotees in TT, visits often to bring blessings and to do devotion with the people here. He often gives lectures that carry religious messages that are applicable to today’s society. On the topic of the current inflation and the high price of food products in TT he said that people here should not be "alarmed about high food prices.” He instead encourages Trinidadians to go back to the land. “Mother Earth will feed you, she will never disappoint you,” he told an audience, adding that the soil was rich and crops will yield abundant harvests.

Swami Sachidananda also said the people of this country were consumed by jealousy and greed.

He said then that in the quest for power, the road to Godliness had been abandoned. He noted that there is need to reconnect to God saying that the aura that surrounds the country held vicious colours of hatred, envy and greed and the only way to bring true prosperity to the nation was to turn to God.

He urged parents to sit with your children and teach them how to pray and how to live. “Take them to the land and let them heal themselves by planting food,” he said.

On the murti of Hanuman Swami the swami said that the stories of the incarnations of Hanuman over the ages, show not only his greatness, but the principles by which one should live. “In the Ramayana, Hanuman went to Lanka and met Mother Sita, acting on Sri Rama's behalf. We learn that in that act he was bringing the ‘Jiva’ (life) and ‘Paramatma’ (soul) together.”

President fo the temple Ramesh Persad Maharaj, said family groups from all over the world had been arriving over the past few days to take part in the festival. He said that he is happy that the temple is now awakening a new awareness in prayer and devotion among the people of TT.

The devotional service continues tomorrow with prayer meeting with Ganapati Sachchidananda at Quinam Beach, Siparia for the protection of the environment and for the welfare of humanity due to climatic changes, global warming and depletion of the ozone layer and the rain forests.

Sachidananda is known for his music which is described as soothing, meditative and curative. The Swami combines his music therapy with ayurveda, psychology, gem therapy and astrology. The therapy lays great stress on ekagrata (deep concentration) on the part of the healer/musician and the listener/patient.

The DYC continues to do enormous work in the upliftment of people in the country.

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