Pilgrims Start Ramanathaswamy Temple Cleaning Fund
Ganga of Adelaide, Australia, was awed by the Ramanathaswamy Temple on Rameswaran Island off the Eastern Coast of India. She walked its rhythmic, ornate, pillared corridors for the first time with the Innersearch Pilgrims of the 2008 Asian Odyssey Innersearch yatra to sacred South Indian sites.
But the Innersearchers also saw that the huge temple, whose foundations were laid in the 12th century and whose corridors are said to be the longest of their kind in the world, urgently needed a cleaning fund.
A major pilgrim and tourist magnet, the Ramanathaswamy Temple, located on the island of Rameswaram about 20 kilometers from Sri Lanka, has all the maintenance needs of lesser known temples multiplied by age, size and use.
Ms. Sivanathan stayed in Rameswaram for several days in February of 2008 as part of an Innersearch tour, a travel-study program lead by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, head of the Hindu Monastery on Kauai.
“It’s an extraordinary town and extraordinary temple,” she said.
She recalled the town coming alive at 4:00 each morning to the high volume music of the traditional instruments of the Periya Melam (temple band). She found walking the temple’s corridors with her 95 Innersearch companions a profoundly spiritual experience.
“The town has a wonderful spiritual feeling about it as well,” she added. “Everybody there seems to have an association with the temple.” But the wear and tear on the temple, which offers a minimum of six ceremonies daily and which has twenty-two wells for ceremonial cleansing, is unmistakable.
The response from the Innersearch group of pilgrims was to establish and provide the first contributions to the Ramanathaswamy Temple Cleaning Fund at the Hindu Heritage Endowment. They hope to build the principal to $50,000, using the interest “to keep the temple clean and tidy” in environmentally friendly ways. Ganga, with Devi, a fellow Innersearcher from the US, undertook to establish the fund on behalf of the Innersearchers.
The Innersearchers see contributions to the Fund as a way to have a direct connection with one of the twelve most powerful Siva temples (jyotilinga) in India. They believe that the Fund will appeal strongly to Hindus everywhere. “You can visit and know you are a direct part of that great temple,” Ganga enthused. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
To contribute to the Ramanathaswamy Temple Cleaning Fund or to establish a Fund of your own to support Hindu causes, visit the fund’s website.