Hindu temple

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A Hindu temple is a house of worship for the followers of Hinduism. The structure is specifically reserved for religious and spiritual activities. In many Indian languages, a Hindu temple is known as a Mandir. It is also known as Devasthana(Kannada : ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನ) or Gudi(Kannada: ಗುಡಿ) in Kannada[citation needed] or Kovil (Tamil : கோயில்) or Alayam (Tamil : ஆலயம்) in Tamil.

A Hindu temple can be a separate structure or a part of a building. Most practising Hindus maintain a mandir in their homes for daily worship and meditation. An essential feature of all mandirs is the presence of elaborate murtis of the Hindu deity to whom the temple is dedicated. They are usually dedicated to one primary deity, called the presiding deity, and other subordinate deities associated with the main deity. However, some mandirs are dedicated to several deities.

[edit] Etymology

The word Mandir is derived from an ancient Sanskrit name for the house of the God. Man - symbolizes the inner-self while dir - means dwelling place. In several Hindu texts, the lord is described as one's "inner-self" or in other words the "inner conscience".

Hindu temples are known by different names in different parts of the world, depending upon the native language. For example, temples are known as Alayam or Kovil in Tamil. It is also known as Devasthana/Gudi in Kannada, Gudi/Devalayam/Kovela in Telugu and Puja pandal in Bengali.

[edit] Architecture

The Vishnupad Temple, Gaya an example of Nagara style

The main focus of temple architecture in Vedic India was to blend the temple with its natural surroundings. A major consequence of this style of temple design, was the construction of several cave temples across the Indian subcontinent. The 5th century caves of Ellora are one of the most magnificent cave temples in the world. Most of the early Hindu cave temples were carved out of a single large rock. A prominent feature of these cave temples was the elaborate sculptures of various Hindu deities.

Image:Brihadeshwara front right.jpg
Frontal-right view of the Brihadeshwara temple of Dravidian style

By the 10th century, stylized pyramids became a crucial component of Hindu temples. These pyramids represented sacred Himalayan mountain peaks. It was during this period, that two major styles of temple architecture: the Dravidian-style and the Naagra-style developed. While Dravdian-style temples featured stepped pyramids, the Naagra-style temples featured slightly curved pyramids. The Naagra style is mostly prominent in northern India while most of the temples in southern India follow Dravidian style of temple architecture. Most of the major Hindu temples are constructed as per the aagama shastras. The gopuram is a distinctive temple tower and is an integral part of all Dravdian-style temples.

[edit] Elements of worship

Although the devotee is free to worship in any manner as long as it is respectful and not offensive, some common elements of worship in a mandir are darshan, puja, bhajan, pradakshina, and prasad.

[edit] Basic norms to be followed in a mandir

Most priests take elaborate measures to maintain mental and physical purity of the temple. While most devotees cannot maintain such regimens, there are some basic rules that must be followed in all Hindu temples:

  • Most importantly, footwear is not allowed inside.
  • Modest clothing should be worn.
  • Non-vegetarian foods, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and intoxicants should not be brought inside the temple and are strictly prohibited.
Jagannath Temple at Puri an example of Kalinga style
  • Feet should not be pointed toward the deities. Feet are preferably folded.
  • One must not sit with back towards the sanctum sanctorum.
  • Women should not enter the mandir in the first four days of their menstrual cycle.
  • One must not enter the sanctum sanctorum or touch the murti without permission.
  • One must not visit the temple for a period of ten days after the Death of immediate family members.
  • Many temples strictly prohibit taking photographs of the deity. So caution has to be exercised and prior permission sought before taking photographs.

[edit] Prana Pratishta

The world's first Swaminarayan Temple was built in Ahmedabad by the instructions of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

Prana Pratishta is the ceremony to invoke the divine spirit-energy into the statue made in the god's form. Once this ceremony has been performed the murti, or 'image,' must be worshipped daily.

[edit] Local village deities and temples

[edit] Management

In the most recent developments, the Archeological Survey of India has taken control of most ancient temples of archeological importance in India.

In India and many countries, each temple is managed by a temple board committee which administrates its finances, management and events. Each committee is headed by a president and can have a number of committee members in relation to the size of the temple.

In some villages in India, the more prominent and respected families are entrusted with leadership and management of the temple. Their families become patrons of the temple.

[edit] See also

The Gopuram of temples, in south India, are adorned with icons depicting a particular story surrounding the temple's deity.

[edit] External links


Hindu temple

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