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Bothell hindu temple becomes consecrated shrine

Priests stands in front of a new idol delivered to the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell last week.  - Sarah Kehoe, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter
Priests stands in front of a new idol delivered to the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell last week.
— image credit: Sarah Kehoe, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter

Om Dwivevi cried tears of joy the day the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell received it's first consecrated idol.

"This is a once in a lifetime experience for me and for our community," said Dwivevi, president of the temple committee. "These kind of installations and events does not often happen and it's not an easy job."

More than a thousand people attended a three days of rituals from May 9 through May 11, called Kumbabhishekam, to bring the deity Prasanna Venkateshwara to life. Related to Vishnu, preserver of life in the universe, the deity will play a key role in formal rituals performed at the shrine.

"People who came took this event very seriously," Dwivevi said. "Most stayed there all day and night."

The installation of the temple makes the temple the nation's first formally consecrated Hindu temple shrine in the Pacific Northwest. Indian craftsmen called shilpis, descended from generations of other temple craftsmen, had spent six months molding the idol's shrine. The deity itself was hand-sculpted in India out of black granite.

Dwivevi said there has been an influx of Indian software engineers immigrating to the area. From 2000 to 2012, U.S. Census data show the Indian population in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties nearly tripled from about 20,000 to 59,000.

"The atmosphere was very heavenly," Dwivevi said. "Everyone involved worked hard to ensure these events were a great success and we had over 100 volunteers."

The idol is 30 feet tall and weighs around 500 pounds and was shipped from India. It took about one year to make because of the delicate stone used to put it together by artisans.

"It took 30 men to lift it onto the alter because the idol is not allowed to be moved with a machine," said Geetha Venigalla. "It was a very holy experience and it was so nice we could have it here in Bothell, so far from our home in India."

The rituals included showering the idol in milk, honey, juice, coconut and water, while priests chanted in Sanskrit. The idol was then dressed in garlands of red, orange, yellow and purple flowers before being presented in the temple on May 11.

Dwivevi said the idol consecrated last weekend is the first of six the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center plans to incorporate. The first three will be housed in the newly opened, 10,000-square-foot temple. The next three will go into an even larger 40,000-square-foot building yet to be built on adjacent property. That building will include a new temple section dedicated to the deity Shiva, a kitchen and stage area.

The committee is working to raise money for their plans. They had to take out a bank loan to bring in their current idol.

The installation of all six idols would make the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell one of the largest Hindu temples in the country, if not the largest, Dwivevi said.

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