A Hidden Temple Grows in Ashland

October 14, 2007

Author: Lisa Kocian

Source: The Boston Globe


There's a modest stone marker and a belt of trees that separate the Hindu priests from the everyday traffic on Route 135. It's enough to isolate a ceremony completely from the rest of life in Ashland.

One rings a small bell, and several devotees join him in chanting. The priest waves a candelabra in front of a deity statue, which is dressed in gold and red robes and bedecked in flower garlands. The light represents consciousness, and the priest will offer it to the small audience standing just outside the sanctum.

It's the beginning of a ritual that is repeated several times daily at Ashland's Sri Lakshmi Temple, the largest Hindu temple in the area but mostly unknown to its host community. If it weren't for a few teenagers throwing homemade explosives in the parking lot this summer, most area residents probably wouldn't know that the white, intricately carved temple even exists.