Thursday, August 19, 2010

Somtseu Road Hindu Temple

We visited a Hindu temple a few days ago and I've just uploaded the pictures from David's camera.  I told the kids they had to be respectful since there were devotees at prayer.  I don't think either of them had ever been to a church so they were very cautious and took off their shoes at the line.  Frost kept telling Wren to "Shshshshsh" and Wren alternated between careful slow motion silence and rushes of running as he forgot to restrain himself.

Durban Hindu Temple built in 1901, primarily for Hindu Laborers
A local Hindi visitor to the shrine explained that each of the 'icons' or murtis (images) represented one of the mother - protectors of the people.  You could identify with one of them, seek prayer with one of them, or visit all of them.  People leave offerings of fruit, money, incense and flowers on the altars although signs warn that you must not touch the murthis or use camphor.

Parvati / Durga:  The Divine Mother.
She rides a tiger to show her unlimited power.
 Frost and Wren were very interested in the fact that the Durga icon had many arms and weapons.    Oddly, when I imported these images into iPhoto and asked it to identify faces, it suggested that these were pictures of me.

The boys look at an icon of Durga.

Lord Krishna playing his flute.
He is often portrayed with distinctive blue skin because the sanskrit word
Krsna means "dark skinned, blue or black."
Frost liked Kali because it reminded him of the temple
of Kali Ma in Indiana Jones.
 There were a few elements at the temple which we did not understand.  Some of the trees were wrapped around with string, binding rags and flowers to the trunk.  I presume these are prayers but am not sure why the trees were honored.   Also, this blue basin (below) contained a small murti with red paste on it and water around it.  Frost worried that it might be blood but I assured him it was not.

A beautiful but mysterious murti.
The face looks like hanuman but why does he
carry a fish?
We also saw a large lingam sculpture made of black marble.  Set beside it was a carton of milk.  This brought back memories of long ago when I studied Hindu altars in my art practice.  The Shiva Lingams are either thought to be representations of all beings, a formless shape of all creation, or a penis resting on a vagina (lingam yoni).  I googled it and found this:
Shiva lingam with
milk and ghee.
The most common use of the Shiva Lingam is for sacred bathing (abhisheka) and so the worship of a Shiva Lingam always includes an abhisheka usually of milk and water, but commonly with other liquids, including yogurt, honey and clarified butter as well.

Durban Botanic Garden
Later, we visited the Botanic Gardens near Greyville.  The boys loved it - running around looking at birds, seed pods and cycads.  Frost found out that cycads are prickly.  Wren feared the rotating sprinklers and everyone enjoyed cream and jam scones with milkshakes at the kiosk still staffed by elderly white ladies with tinted hair.

I enjoyed sneaking crumbs to the begging birds (bulbuls, collared barbets, masked weavers and hadedahs) but did not see monkeys.

Frost and Wren were particularly impressed by the jackfruit.  Frost kept asking if he could PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PICK IT!   I don't know what he thought he would do with it.  I told him you could buy them at the produce market but I think he wanted to OBTAIN it himself.  These jackfruit are not mature - they are really quite small but still impressive.

Frost reads about the jackfruit while Wren admires WHAT WE FOUND.

Frost has a sneaky look as he wants to pick it.
He complains that his smart shirt makes him look "not cool" in this picture.

I am getting sick of all the drama about monkeys.

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