A Legacy for Granny – Praan Prathistaa Ceremony

Praan Praatishta

The family at the end of the ceremony all dressed in red. Red represents Surya.

This post is very close to home for me, sharing not just a bit of Trinidad’s multi-ethnic culture, but my Hindu heritage and family.  I do travel a lot, but when it comes to family, I find myself on a plane back to Trinidad as much as I can to celebrate religious and other functions with them.

Granny’s wish for her 80th birthday was to have a Hindu deity brought from India and placed in one of her favourite temples in town as her legacy. Granny being the matriarch of the family, when she says she wants, we make it happen. However this event we were about to undertake as a family was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Now it could have been made in Trinidad but Granny’s wish was to have it made from marble in Jaipur, India. Doesn’t sound too complicated does it? Little did we know we were about to commission a 400kg marble murti of the Surya God to be shipped to Trinidad and the elaborate ritual upon arrival to have it installed in the temple.  It was similar to a mini Indian wedding with much pomp and circumstance, a definitely learning experience for all.

Why Surya?

Surya is the chief solar deity of the Hindu religion. Lord Surya, the Sun God as he is commonly referred, is the only visible god which one can see every day in the form of the sun. He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which is said to represent the seven chakras in the body, seven colours of the rainbow, seven days of the week etc. Seven being a very auspicious number for Hindus.

Praan Praatishta

The Surya murti at home in the temple.

Hindus consider a murti worthy of serving as a focus of divine worship only after the divine is invoked in it for the purpose of offering worship. Praan Prathistaa is the idol installation ceremony, which is the means of instilling the divine presence of the Lord himself.

With 300 invited guests (Granny’s version of a”small” event), we all escorted the Surya murti from her house to the Shiva Harijan Mandir; which was a 2 mile walk away.

Follow this awe inspiring event in photos as we made Granny’s dream come true.

Praan Praatishta

Doing puja before the Surya murti can leave our home and be taken to the temple.

Praan Praatishta

Everyone singing hymns praising Lord Surya as the murti is put on the truck that will take it the temple.

Praan Praatishta

The singing continues as the procession leaves our street.

Praan Praatishta

A pitstop at the beginning of our street to perform prayers, seeking blessings as the Surya murti leaving our family grounds for the last time.

Praan Praatishta

The procession continues to chant hymns as they leave our street and proceed on the main road to the temple (police escort directing traffic off course)

Praan Praatishta

The seven boys, holding flags with names of each of the seven horses depicted on the Surya murti, lead the procession

Praan Praatishta

The seven girls carrying decorated puja materials on their head.

Praan Praatishta

Halfway mark to the temple.

Praan Praatishta

The seven girls walking proudly carrying their thalis on their heads.

Praan Praatishta

Guests walking behind the murti on the street.

Praan Praatishta

Our fantastic police escort leading the way.

Praan Praatishta

Almost at the temple, everyone feeling the energy of the chanting.

Praan Praatishta

Arriving at the temple the murti would call home.

Praan Praatishta

Granny and her two daughters continue to perform Aarti on the murti before it is taken inside.

Praan Praatishta

Inside the temple, they all stand in a row to welcome the murti as it is brought in

Praan Praatishta

Doing Aarti as the 400kg murti is brought into the temple by a forklift.

Praan Praatishta

Manually moving the murti onto the stand where it will be placed permanently.

Praan Praatishta

Before the ceremony starts, the murti is covered, life has not been breathed into it until the ceremony is over.

Praan Praatishta

The multicultural side of Trinidad – my cousin starts the program off playing the National Anthem on the national instrument – the steelpan.

Praan Praatishta

The two pundits (Hindu priests) performing the ceremony.

Praan Praatishta

The family sit together with Granny to perform the ceremony.

Praan Praatishta

Doing final puja to Lord Surya.

Praan Praatishta

Praan Praatishta ceremony over, the Surya murti is worshipped in the temple.

 

 

 

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