குள்ளக் குள்ளனே, குண்டு வயிறனே,
வெள்ளைப் பிள்ளையாரே, விநாயக மூர்த்தியே!
ஐந்து கரத்தனை, யானை முகத்தனை,
இந்தின் இளம்பிறை போலும் எயிற்றனை,
நந்தி மகன்தனை, ஞானக் கொழுந்தினை,
புந்தியில் வைத்து அடி போற்றுவனே
Welcome to the Temples of North America series. In Hindu belief, it is believed Lord Ganesha as obstacle remover. So any act will begin with a worship to Him. Being the first temple in this series, let us also start with a Ganesha temple. I have a special corner in my mind for this temple as this is the first temple I visited in the North American continent and of course the first outside the Indian shores 14 years back. A lot of growth has happened on this temple since then.
A church site was bought in the seventies for the purpose of building a Hindu Temple in the Flushing area of Queens borough in New York city. Located in the eastern suburbs of the city, it was the idea of one gentleman Sri. C. V. Narasimhan IFS. A Nehruvian era diplomat settled in New York post retirement, he had served in the United Nations headquarters as Under Secretary General - a Number 2 designation in the World Organization. He along with like minded people did the initial spadework for the temple. For fundraising a concert by Smt. M. S. Subbhulakshmi was organised in the summer of 1977. The temple got consecrated on July 4th 1977 - the same day as the Independence Day of USA. It would be interesting to note most of the US temple's anniversary would be around July 4th of each year. Utharaayana period where sun will be near the Northern Hemisphere runs between January 14 - July 14 of each year. If possible, most of the auspicious events will be scheduled during this period. With the North American winter ending only by end of March and being breezy for the next few weeks, temperature consistently stays near 50F only since May. Concrete can be poured only then and buildings can only set during this warmer times. Hence most of the temples will finish the final touches and get ready by beginning of July and get consecrated in the next 14 days. Also warmer climes lead to more people assembling and can be a memorable occassion for socializing.
The name of the presiding deity is Maha Vallabha Ganapathi. Lord Ganesha is the first son of Lord Shiva and Devi Paarvathi, having an elephant head and a human body with a pot belly. In Tamil He is called as முழு முதற் கடவுள் meaning all living beings originated from him, like all Vedhic Mantras originated from the Pranava Manthra Om.
The temple now has an east facing entrance located in Holly Avenue. There is a Raja Gopuram and a covered hallway leading to the temple having 16 pillars. There are 16 forms of Ganapathi (Shodasha meaning 6 + 10) each in a pillar on either side of the hallway. Just before the steps is the DwajaSthamba (flag pole). Let us do our Namaskaarams here and enter the temple.
Once you enter the main door, the direct view you have is the idol of Lord Ganesha with His vehicle Mooshika (mouse) in front. The tusk of the deity is turned to the right and hence a வலம் புரி விநாயகர். The Moolavar deity is about 8 feet tall in black stone sculpted from India. An Utsavar deity is also kept outside the sannidhi for use during processions. There are 4 more additional sannidhis separately inside the building for Lord Shiva, Lord Subramanya and consorts, Lord Venkateshwara and Goddess Mahalakshmi. Each one of the deities is sculpted in blackstone enabling Abhishekams to be performed. With the current expansion projects, lot of spaces have been created for keeping the Panchaloha idols of differnet Gods and Goddesses - Devi Saraswathi, Rama/Lakshmana/Seetha/Hanuman, Radha / Krishna, Ayyappa, Agastya and his wife Lopamudra, Lord Chandrasekhara / Anandhavalli, Devi Kamaakshi, Durga, Nataraja / Parvathi and Manichavasagar, Muruga with Valli / Deivanai and Arunagirunathar, Swarna Bhairavar and Lord Renganathar. There is a section for Navagrahas too. Atma Linga has also been placed in one end - a white stoned Linga to which Ganga Jal can be poured as Abisheka by devotees.
This temple is open mornings and evenings during weekdays and between 8am to 9pm on weekends and holidays. Every Sunday around 11am, Abhishekam is performed to Lord Ganesha - a full fledged Shodasha Upachaaram including milk, honey, curd, sandal paste, vibhoothi, dhoopam and deepam etc to the accompaniment of Vedhic chanting of Sri Rudram, Chamakam, Purusha Suktham, Narayana Suktham, Durga Suktham, Sri Suktham and Ganapathi Upanishad. This will continue till 12:30pm or so and after Alankaaram - a Maha Arathi is performed followed by Prasadham. Similarly at 7pm each day, Daily Arathi is performed along with the chanting of 'Jaya Jagadheesa Hare' song. According to the Nakshatra associated with each deity and/or as per the weekly schedule other deities too have pujas. The major function associated is the Ganesh Chathurthi celebration in August/September of each year which will be a Nava Dhina (9 Day) Mahotsava - beginning the friday before the week of Sukla Paksha Chathurthi of the month Aavani to the sunday following that. That sunday, a Ratha Yatra (Temple Procession) is done taking the Ganesha idol in a silver ratha around the 4 streets of Flushing area (ala the 4 maada veedhis procession in India). The function ends with the visarjana (dissolution) of the idol in water. During the Ayyappa Mandala period (months of Kaarthigai and Margazhi), every Saturday there is a bhajan by dedicated devotees. None of the major functions are missed under the watchful eyes of the President - Dr. Uma Mysorekar a medical doctor by profession.
The url of the temple is