Melbourne, Australia (AFP) – A Melbourne temple to the Hindu goddess of beauty has opened in a historic part of Australia, opening up a gateway to Hindu temples in the Middle East.
Sophie, known in Australia as Lakshmi, has long been venerated by Hindus in Asia, with temples being built in Malaysia, India and Indonesia, among others.
But the temple was never meant to be a temple to Lakshmi.
Sofia Boccagno, head of the temple’s directorate of operations, said the foundation had been established in 2013 as a temple for Lakshmi and her devotees, but the temple had been dormant since.
“Sophies’ first step in the temple is the foundation of the structure,” she said.
“That’s where Lakshmi herself is represented, her hair on a string and she wears the headband of the goddess, as if she were on the temple.”
There are various representations of Lakshmi in the building, as well as the head of a snake, which represents her presence.
“Sophias name has become synonymous with Lakshmi after her incarnation in the Bible.
The temple, known as the Sophia, was built on the site of a Roman temple in Melbourne’s historic west and has been a shrine to the goddess since its construction in 2013.
The opening of the site to the public was a major event in Melbourne, where there was a rush of visitors, including hundreds of students, and many locals and tourists.”
I was really happy to see so many people come out and see the new temple,” said Sajeev Shah, who visited the temple on Tuesday morning.”
This is the first temple to be opened to the general public and it’s really exciting for the area, especially for us local people, because we’re a very close-knit community.””
There’s a lot of people who don’t go to temples, but this is the gateway for them to come and see our temple and also to experience our Hindu traditions.
“The opening ceremony on Tuesday was attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Prime Minister Julie Bishop.
The announcement comes on the eve of International Yoga Day, when millions of people gather to practise yoga, meditation and other religious practices.