By: Sydney Jorgensen & Kristen Kerr
The sound of booming drums, fireworks and crowds of people are not uncommon for festivals occurring more than 250 days out of 365 days a year at the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple.
Members of the River Ridge 2nd Ward Relief Society located in South Jordan, Utah, have lived in homes surrounding the temple for several years. For the first time, they decided it was time to visit the temple and learn more about Hindu beliefs and practices.
The women entered through the front doors of the temple and removed their shoes before viewing the shrines. Incense filled the air as they took their seats on carpets in the middle of the room decorated with shrines.
Satish Kumar Nenmali Seshadri, a 36-year-old Hindu priest, welcomed the women and began explaining various beliefs.
“Hinduism not necessarily a religion but an eternal way of living,” Seshadri told the group.
Sri Ganesha Hindu leaders often hold question and answer sessions for the community, and Mara Urie and Cheryl Fillmore commented on the inclusive atmosphere. Nestled right in their community, the women enjoyed learning more about the temple.
Urie lives four houses away from the temple and bought her home from a Hindu family. While house hunting in the neighborhood, Urie and her husband discovered their current home and dropped in to see it. The Hindu family invited them in and left lasting impressions.
Twenty-three years ago, Hindu practices were held in the basement of Indra Neelameggham, who now serves as the treasurer of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable. At that time, women served as priests because they didn’t have any male Indian priests.
Seshadri said the main Ganesha idol, the temple’s namesake, came over from India. It was left untouched in California for six months before an American Priest from Hawaii offered the idol to Utah.
In 2003, the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah was constructed.
As Seshadri explained, Hindus do not require membership as part of their faith. It’s a very personal and internal way of life and there is no conversion process. Seshadri encourages people to not leave their individual religious paths, but rather, come and worship. Hindus believe in one main entity, God. As people forget God and stray away from worship, they become evil.
Boys often start studying Hinduism at age 7. Teachings are passed from mind to mind, rather than through books or written text. Hindus have four main books, but as Seshadri said, writings are not completely accurate. Individuals participate in 16 different ceremonies as they grow up.
Each Hindu temple operates independently of other temples. The Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple relies on a board of trustees who pay priests and give donations.
Listen to Seshadri explain more about Hindu services and rituals.
To learn more about the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple, click here.