ORIGINAL ARTICLE: THEMALAYSIANINSIDER
The RM10 million three-storey octagonal temple is receiving the final touches preparatory to its consecration ceremony on August 29. – Pic from the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple of Devotion and Understanding Facebook page, August 27, 2015.
SEBERANG JAYA - There may be many Hindu temples in Malaysia, but the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple of Devotion and Understanding in Seberang Jaya, Penang, is in a class of its own in terms of building design and function.
The RM10 million, three-storey octagonal temple with 16 chatris (ornate dome-shaped pavilions) is set to become a state landmark.
The temple is now receiving the final touches before the “kumbabeseigam” (consecration ceremony) on August 29.
International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) national general secretary Simheswara Dasa said the temple was modelled after India’s two famous temples – Jagannath in Puri and Krishna Balaram in Vrindavan.
He said the temple was envisioned by the society’s founder, CC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, during a visit to Malaysia in 1971.
"Swami Prabhupada had left a rough sketch of the temple with instructions for the devotees here to follow.
"We are happy to finally fulfil the wishes of the late Swami Prabhupada, who passed away in 1977," he told Bernama recently.
Simheswara, who is also the building committee chairman, said the locations of the 16 chatris on the octagon were aligned with the celestial rulers of the eight directions.
"Each direction ((north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest) represents the various incarnations, or avatars, of Lord Krishna," he said.
The temple sculpture, which is 30.5m tall, with ornamental work by 14 artisans from India, including 12 lion figurines sitting on top of the three shikara domes rising up to 26m, was also unique, he said.
"The octagonal and pyramidal shape is designed for natural light penetration and ventilation.
"It is a temple built and designed according to the principles of ancient Vedic geomancy (Vaasthu Sastra)," he said.
During a short tour of the main temple building, which was in the final stages of being painted, Simheswara said the prayer hall on the first floor could accommodate up to 800 devotees.
"An elevator is provided for the elderly. A few rooms will be used to store Lord Krishna's attire, flowers, and a devotee will be assigned to bring down food to be placed before Lord Krishna before distribution among the worshippers,” he said.
He said mezzanine floor was dedicated to the founder as the Srila Prabhupada Gallery, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of ISKCON.
"The temple's main prayer hall on the first floor would have two deities – Lord Krishna and Radha – placed on a grand Balinese teakwood altar that sits right under the main domes.
"The 10 statues of the incarnations of Lord Krishna will also be placed within the temple."
Simheswara said the temple would educate and train devotees and visitors on yoga, chanting methods and the spiritual disciplines.
The four-storey multipurpose hall located adjacent to the temple has an open dining hall to provide free vegetarian food, 10 guest rooms and a viewing gallery. The cultural centre at the hall will house a restaurant, a gifts and Vedic books shop, an education centre and meeting rooms.
On August 28, the eve of the consecration ceremony, Simheswara said 20 priests from the International School of Vedic teachings in Mayapur, India, would lead the ceremonies beginning with meditation and rituals before the deities were installed.
The next day at about 5.15am, the deities will be bathed with charged and sanctified holy water from the sacrificial pot.
“It is an ancient deity installation ritual called ‘Prana Pratistha’, whereby pranic powers trickle down a copper wire and enter the deity installed inside the sanctum and sanctorum of the temple," he explained.
"We are expecting over 10,000 people, including devotees from India, China, Australia, England, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines at the temple’s opening-cum-installation of deities ceremony at 10am on August 29," he said.
Simheswara proudly showed a letter from India Prime Minister Narenda Modi dated July 14, congratulating ISKCON on its 50th anniversary celebration.
"It's an honour to receive such a letter of support from the leader of India,” he said, beaming with pride. – Bernama, August 27, 2015.