Hi my name is Emanuel Anaya, and I visited Shyva Vishnu Temple; a Hindu Temple. The experience as a whole was very different, and refreshing in a way. At first I sat in my car, parked in the parking lot of the temple for about 30 minutes. I was afraid of getting off into this religious environment that I never heard anything about, and I was scouting the people going into the temple. Once I saw enough people walk into the temple I decided to take the leap of faith and join them. I went dressed in what I would usually wear to a church service; dress shoes, slacks, nice belt, dark button down, a white tie, and a blazer. I felt a bit too over dressed, so I took of the blazer and the tie. Almost everyone there was wearing white loose clothing and sandals; something I am not used to seeing in a church setting.
As I step foot out of my car I can’t help but notice how beautiful this temple is. Everything was put together with so much detail, the amazing carvings of flowers/animals, and the breathtaking golden piece on the roof. Once I finally got to the doors of the temple I began to see everyone taking of their sandals, which completely caught me of guard. I wore my nicest dress shoes, just to take them off at the door?
So I stood at the entrance of the temple for about 10 minutes, until a man came up to me. He was wearing all white like the others, and went by the nick name V. He asked me, “are you here with your school?”, and I replied “yes.” From that point on he became my mentor on the visit.
He started off by telling me to take off my shoes, and put them on the shoe rack. I was not very comfortable with this l, but out of respect I followed his orders. The only problem was, there was a wasp hive where the shoe rack was. I went to him with this issue, and he response to me saying “leave them in peace, and place your shoes on the rack.” At that moment I started to somewhat understand what I was getting myself into; a religion that is one with everything on Earth.
Stepping into the temple, the first thing you smell is incense and the first thing you see is a bunch of statues. The smell was so strong it made me feel a way I’ve never felt before, sort of like I was more in touch with my senses. The visuals inside were also very perfectly put together, and almost everything was marble. A couple of things that really caught my eye was, the jewelry on the statues and a huge flower on the ceiling. Once V gave me a better understanding of the deities (statues) and what their religion actually stands for, I was able to have more of a connection with my experience.
I was not able to hear any of the teachings that went on because, V was trying to cram the whole Hindu religion into about 2 hours and everyone was celebrating a holiday; I believe it was Ganesh Chaturthi. I was able to join them as they went through their prayers, which used a lot of the ommm sound. As V explained to me, ommm is the sound of the universe and it helps them become one with the Earth.
As for the holiday, they built Ganesha out of turmeric as they played hymns. The whole ceremony was fascinating to watch! It was amazing to see how highly they look at all of the deities, and how much respect they pay to them.
If there is one thing I took with me in my first visit, it would have to be a better sense of selflessness. Everyone in that temple was so accepting of me, and they all were so peaceful. They did favors for their neighbors without expecting anything in return. They didn’t pride themselves at all, and for once I felt as if there was no competition in a church setting. It’s nothing like the Christian church, we’re it seems that everyone is trying to be better than the person beside them. The Hindu people were some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life, and I’m looking forward to attending their temple again.