Krishna idol installed at South Edison, N.J. temple

Suguneendra Theertha Swami, (in yellow robe) with Yogeendra Bhat, the chief priest, on the eve of the consecration the idol of Lord Krishna at the South Edison temple June 8.

When helicopters began showering flowers on the Shri Krishna Vrundavana temple in New Jersey to mark the consecration of a 100-pound idol carved out of a rare stone found in Nepal, devotees waiting at the temple below became euphoric. They had spent hours anticipating the start of the June 8 consecration ceremony for a newly installed Krishna idol at the South Edison temple which sits on a sprawling 3.5 acres.

Devotees arrived hours earlier to set up for a ceremony that began at 10 a.m. One thousand copper and brass pots with various offerings were dedicated to Shri Krishna. As conch shells were blown, men and women bowed their heads in reverence to Hinduism’s most beloved god. Scores of devotional songs and dance recitals marked the occasion.

“We all have been waiting for this auspicious moment since 2013 when the idea for this installation was first conceived,” said Mahesh Harvu, a temple volunteer and an area resident.

That year Suguneendra Theertha Swami, a seer from India, came up with the idea of getting an idol carved in India out of a rare stone called Saligrama and to have the idol installed in the New Jersey Vrundavana temple.

It was his dream, devotees said, to make New Jersey home of such an idol of Lord Krishna, similar to the one in the famed Udupi temple in Karnataka. The consecration was the culmination of a 4-year-long effort by a community that shared the dream.

“It took more than six months of hard work for the artisans in Udupi to sculpt the more-than-100-pound deity out of the hard-to-chisel Saligrama rock that was collected from the banks of Gandaki River in Nepal by artisans,” said Harvu. It was transported to Udupi for sculpting before it arrived in New Jersey late last month. “The process took more than a year to complete given various levels of government clearance for importing such a thing,” Harvu said.

Lord Krishna's arrival was greeted with joy and ecstasy. The idol was ceremoniously taken to the homes of more than 100 devotees in deference to their requests for personal and family worship in the week preceding its consecration.

Theertha Swami, who has been instrumental in establishing several temples all around the United States, Australia and U.K., said New Jersey has set the stage to establish a center for “Loka Kalyanam” or for the benefit of the society.

“New Jersey is called the Garden State and it makes a perfect abode for Krishna Vrundavana, since Vrundavana means garden in Sanskrit,” said Theertha Swami.

He expressed gratitude and admiration for the devotees and supporters and New Jersey residents who opened up their hearts and their wallets to make his dream project a success. The consecration with Vedic rituals was followed by a knowledge festival June 10 and 11 in which scholars from various faiths were invited to discuss and share the message of Moksha liberation and Karma, or the right action. Speakers included Rabbi Alan Brill, endowed chair of Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University and Shri Yegnasubramanian, founder of several temples in the U.S. Theertha Swami spoke on requisites of spiritual learning.

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