Balaji Temple Ushers In New Year In Traditional Way

Members of the Srivari Sri Balaji Temple on Elizabeth Avenue held a traditional New Year’s Day ceremony.

Chanting, the ritual bathing of a Hindu god’s idol and the lighting of 21 oil lamps highlighted the Srivari Sri Balaji temple’s first New Year’s Day observance.

The 2,000-square-foot prayer hall, located on Elizabeth Avenue, was packed Jan. 1 with members of the temple who had come to pay respects to the idol of their god, Lord Srivari, and deliver a message to the outside community.

“Today we want to send a message to the entire community, wishing them a happy, healthy and wealthy life,” said Vijay Poondi, the temple’s chairman.

The idol is ritually bathed weekly, but this New Year’s bath was special. Lord Srivari’s idol was joined by those of two goddesses, and the water used for the bathing was poured out of a series of 21 specially created containers.

The containers were hand-made in Jaipul, India, Poondi said.

“It takes four to five hours to make each of these vessels,” he said. “They are hand-made and hand-painted.”

The containers were sponsored by temple members, Poondi said. The money raised by the sponsorships will go toward paying for the group’s permanent temple.

At one point in the morning, a group of women gathered in the center of the prayer hall and placed small cotton wicks in silver diyas, or oil lamps. The lamps’ reservoirs were then filled with oil, and the lamps were placed on a silver platter, and then on a table in front of the idols.

One of the hand-decorated containers used in the bathing were then placed on each of the silver platters, and some decorative flowers were added.

The oil lamps were lit “for the good of the entire community,” Poondi said.

“We want to send only one message to the entire community of New Jersey and the United States of America,” he said. “This is the time for peace, we will be praying for each and every individual in the country.”

A group of musicians and dancers were expected later in the day, Poondi said.

“This is an all-day event,” he said.

2017 New Year's Day at Balaji Temple


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