Hindu temple now home to first consecrated idol, shrine in NW

BOTHELL — When yellow-robed priests pulled back the burgundy curtain of a shrine inside the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell, more than a thousand people who had squeezed into the smoke-filled building let out tears and gasps of joy.

It was the crowd’s first glimpse of not just the temple’s first formally consecrated idol, but the first formally consecrated Hindu temple shrine in the Pacific Northwest.

Indian craftsmen called shilpis, descended from generations of other temple craftsmen, had spent six months molding the idol’s shrine. The deity itself was hand-sculpted in India out of black granite.

Finally, after three days of rituals last weekend called Kumbabhishekam, the deity Prasanna Venkateshwara was brought to life. Related to Vishnu, preserver of life in the universe, the deity will play a key role in formal rituals performed at the shrine.

Witnessing the three-day event is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Hindus, said Mani Vadari, chairman of the HTCC’s board. He said the closest U.S. temple shrine built in the same tradition is in San Francisco.

“This is a 27-year-old dream come true,” said Vadari, who first worshipped with other Hindus in church basements, rented spaces and homes when he came to the Seattle area in the 1980s. The group he worshipped with then consisted of fewer than 100 families.

Today, that number has ballooned, largely because of an influx of Indian software engineers who have immigrated to the area. From 2000 to 2012, U.S. Census data show the Indian population in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties nearly tripled from about 20,000 to 59,000.

Vadari expects worship on an average day to draw about 100 to 200 people. He said hundreds more will be drawn to the temple on rare occasions such as the fall festival of Diwali.

Hindus never need go to a temple, said Nitya Niranjan, vice chairman of the HTCC. They are drawn there for the opportunity to spread love and goodwill, he said.

“When we worship at home, our prayers go to us and our families first,” Niranjan said. “When we worship here, our prayer goes to the universe first. This temple is about loving the universe.”

Thousands of Hindus from all over Washington and Oregon — many in their most colorful, gold-accented Indian clothes — poured into the temple on 212th Street Southeast over the weekend to witness various stages of the shrine’s consecration. Burnt offerings and sugary desserts were offered to the deity.

The granite idol was showered in milk, honey, juice, coconut and water, while priests chanted in Sanskrit. (Four full-time priests will perform duties such as awakening and feeding the deity every day so that visitors may connect with it.)

The idol was then cleaned and dressed in garlands of red, orange, yellow and purple flowers before being presented in the temple Sunday.

Narmadha Perumal, 35, came from Tacoma with her 1-year-old daughter, who wore a bright green dress and gold bracelets around her wrists. Perumal said that for years she’s been coming to the cultural center, which opened at the site in 2002, and was excited to see the bustling opening of the temple next door.

“This is where we as a community go to find peace,” said Perumal, originally from Chennai, India.

The idol consecrated last weekend is the first of six the HTCC eventually wants to incorporate. The first three will be housed in the newly opened, 10,000-square-foot temple. The next three will go into an even larger 40,000-square-foot building yet to be built on adjacent property.

That building will include a new temple section dedicated to the deity Shiva, a kitchen and stage area. Vadari said the HTCC is still raising money to complete the plans for the property.

He said those plans — if unchanged — would make the HTCC one of the largest Hindu temples in the country, if not the largest.

More in Local News

If vehicles crash and tumble, rescuers want to be ready

The Puyallup Extrication Team practiced with other fire departments on cars, SUVs and even buses.

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

2 men hospitalized after rollover collision on U.S. 2

Two men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries… Continue reading

Marysville police serve a warrant — across the street from HQ

A man who fled was taken into custody. Police were serving a warrant for alleged drug-related crimes.

Marysville man charged with stabbing wife who sought divorce

Nathan Bradford, 45, found divorce papers while going through the woman’s car.

Man on ferry accuses child of theft, allegedly pulls knife

The man was arrested, no one was hurt, and the ferry was delayed 30 minutes on its way to Mukilteo.

State is close but still not compliant in school-funding case

Lawmakers must act during the next legislative session to satisfy the state Supreme Court.

Dems say GOP tax plan doesn’t add up for everyone

Rep. Suzan DelBene’s amendments to restore deductions, which the bill does away with, were rejected.

Most Read