Ontario Hindus Flock to Temple for Chariot Festival

July 29, 2006

Source: The Toronto Star


On July 29, 2006 The Toronto Star reported, "As the temple bells tolled, women in multicolour saris parted ranks to make way for the gold-plated chariot circling Scarborough’s Sri Varasiththi Vinaayagar Hindu Temple. As some lifted their hands in prayer yesterday, others held out flaming clay pots. Atop the chariot, a priest known as an Iyar performed the Hindu prayer ritual of puja for Lord Ganesha, the elephant god in the Hindu religion. Below him, a handful of women knelt, heads down, in front of the chariot while performers with peacock feathers danced to the beat of drums. The festivities are part of the temple’s annual chariot festival which began July 9. Hundreds of Hindus from across the GTA [Greater Toronto Area], dressed in their finest saris and lengha suits and hair pinned with fresh flowers, packed the temple and its grounds to capacity yesterday. 'Many come here to ask for blessings,' said Thaya Rajah, who works at the temple. For Hindus, Ganesha is the obstacle remover. He is the god who takes the negative attributes in a person and makes them good. The trip around the temple in the hand-carved chariot symbolized Ganesha visiting the world. Jeya Thiyaga, who works at the temple, said the festival has grown with the city’s booming Tamil population. He said many of the devotees are Sri Lankan Tamils eager to celebrate the rituals of their homeland in their new country."