Sri Balaji Temple Holds Ceremonial Groundbreaking

A member of the Sri Balaji temple makes an offering during the groundbreaking ceremony June 4.

Members of the Sri Balaji Temple on Elizabeth Avenue June 4 held a ceremonial groundbreaking for their proposed permanent temple.

The temple is in the process of securing Franklin Township approvals for the temple, said Vijayaraghavan Poondi, Sri Balaji’s president.

He said that if everything goes as planned, the proposed 2,500-square-foot temple should be inaugurated on May 27, 2020.

The size of the temple is dictated by the size of the statue of their god Narayana, Poondi said.

“If you look in Franklin Township, every building is minimum 10,000 square feet, 20,000 square feet, but we think that’s a monument, that’s not a temple,” he said.”The temple has to be built based on the size of the statue. Our temple is going to be less than 2,500 square feet.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was marked by religious chanting and the “pooja,” or offering of gifts. The gifts included flower petals and fruit.

Temple priests carried a smaller representation of the god from the temporary temple to the site of the permanent structure. The priests, who chanted as they walked, were preceded by women singing and clapping.

Also part of the ceremony were nine bricks, which had a symbolism of their own, according to Poondi.

“In the Hindu culture, the numbers play a very significant part,” he said. “Narayana, eight letters. Where he’s going to stand in the temple is the nine.

Two bricks will be placed i each corner, and the ninth in the center, where the statue will be placed, Poondi said.

During the ceremony, accompanied by religious chanting, the bricks were placed in a small pit dug on the spot where construction will begin. All in attendance were able to touch the bricks before they were placed in the pit.

The bricks were then covered with the pooja offerings.

“Everybody touched a stone and they all prayed,” Poondi said. “Usually we pray for ourselves, we pray for neighbors, we pray for the community, but today we all joined together to pray to our god to have the strength from him to build the temple.”

After the outdoor ceremony, the priests carried the statue back to the temporary temple, where they performed a “snake dance.” The dance symbolized Narayana’s dominance over snakes, which meant that the snake did not need to be feared, Poondi said.

Here’s a sample of sights and sounds from the ceremony:

Some more scenes from the day:

2017 Balaji Temple Groundbreaking


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