It was a joyous occasion at the Sri Siva Aalayam as the statues of 63 Saivite saints, or Nayanmars, installed at the entrance to the temple in Ruth Road, Rylands, were unveiled on Sunday July 2.
The statues, made in Poompuhar in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, are of saints who lived in south India hundreds of years ago and were ardent devotees of the Hindu god Shiva.
The temple said they took the opportunity to unveil the statues a day before the observance of Guru Poornima on Monday July 3 when respect is paid to spiritual teachers, “as a mark of respect and gratitude to these spiritual teachers of Saivite tradition”.
As part of the opening ceremony, Bhavadharani Subramaniam gave a rendition of Thamizh Thai Vaazhthu, the anthem of Tamil Nadu.
Pregasen (Gabs) Pather, architect and chairperson of the Sri Siva Aalayam, said to mark the occasion it was important to look back on the temple’s history.
A few milestone’s included November 19 1978, when the temple was officially opened; renovations to the hall around 1989/1990; covering of the yard in 1999; and the facade project marked on Sunday.
He said the first phase of this building project was launched in 2013.
Mr Pather said the unveiling of the statues meant a lot to him personally as he had completed his university thesis in architecture on the Sri Siva Aalayam. He thanked all those who had contributed to the project.
He said in the next phase they want to improve the main temple building, specifically aesthetically in line with south Indian temple architecture
Vice-chairperson Nalini Gangen read out a message from Sri Ashok Babu, consul general of India, who she said had assisted in sourcing the statues from India.
“It’s a great occasion today that the Hindu community has come together to celebrate the installation of the Nayanmar idols in our Siva Aalayam. I wish that the generations to come will worship and draw inspiration from the Bhakti literature of the Nayanmars,” said Mr Ashok Babu.
Ms Gangen, in thanking the sponsors, said the completion of the project is proof of what can be achieved if we all work together.
The ceremony concluded with a song from the Thevaaram, a compilation of the compositions of the saints, by Lilavan Gangen.