Ganesh Temple

A Visit to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, by Lana Guardo and Elizabeth Kelman
Listen to Om Jai Jagdish Hare:

Listen to Gayatri Mantra:

Our trip to the Hindu Temple Society of North America was genuinely enlightening, educational, fun and SPICY. Although we did not receive a lot of help figuring out what each deity stood for or whether or not Shiva was a man or woman, ultimately, we were able to get a grasp on the force this temple holds over Flushing and the empowerment it provides to Hindus all over the NYC metropolitan area.

Take a look at the Temple’s Official Website
Om Jai Jagdish Hare

We appreciated this assignment because we always say things like “I want to go to that cultural center in that far away borough,” but rarely follow through. It was due time to experience Flushing’s diversity and excitement. As students, we are so rarely given the opportunity to have so much control over our own classes-what we learn, how we learn it, where we should go—and here we had that unique situation.

Furthermore, the visit served as a catalyst for conversations with three of Liz’s Hindu friends about the religion of their parents and their own connections to the religion. These discussions tied in nicely to our class themes and discussions about immigration, assimilation, and culture.

Since all forms of photography and video (including cameraphones) were explicitly prohibited in the temple, we will attempt here to describe the temple for you.
The temple proper is one extremely large room, with many small shrines to various deities in niches along the three walls. Each little shrine, like the temple as a whole, is fairly simple—each contains only a statue of the deity, usually golden, and a few of the statues had fresh garlands hanging on their necks. A group of women were sitting on a blanket to one side of the temple making similar garlands. Above each niche was a little plaque with the name of the deity on it. We noticed that all the names were prefaced by “Sri,” which our friend (& our guide of the temple for the day) Aparna explained was a term of respect, reserved almost exclusively for gods. In the center of the room is a large pillar-like structure that is also a shrine, but it’s larger and more ornate than the niche shrines since it is for Ganesh, to whom the temple is dedicated. There is one other similarly styled shrine at the far end of the temple space, but it was cordoned off and Aparna didn’t know anything about the deity it was for. In India, most temples are devoted to only one god or just a few gods, but there are so few temples in North America that at the Ganesh Temple they try to represent all of the Gods that people worship. The Hindu Center, located just a few blocks from Ganesh Temple, apparently has even more gods’ shrines, so between Ganesh Temple and the Hindu Center most major deities are represented.