Hindu rite beseeches fire god
Bright colors and vibrant music filled the spacious building on Franklin Avenue in Yuba City as the Sri Narayan Hindu Temple celebrated its 11th anniversary Saturday.
The temple, which is the only one of its kind in the Yuba-Sutter area, was built by Hardial Singh Hunji in honor of his late wife, Kashlia Devi Hunji.
“When she first came here, she wanted to know if there was a Hindu temple,” Hunji said about his wife, who died in 1993 before the temple was built. “I went to the river (in India) to put her ashes there, and when I went to sleep that night, I saw her vision, and she told me to build the temple.”
Hunji began to cry while remembering his wife's vision, and went on to say that the temple is “God's work,” even though he paid for most of the construction and the decor within. It took about five years to complete, he estimated.
Hunji's daughters, Prem Hunji Turner of Sacramento, Ablasha Hunji Thomas of Delaware and Amerlakha Hunji Holmes of Diamond Bar, helped relate their father's stories and his desire to build an elaborate Hindu temple.
“Mom wanted the sky loft and be able to open it for weddings and ceremonies with fire,” explained Turner. “She definitely helped design the building before she died.”
The elder Hunji had 10 life-size deities made in India and shipped to the Yuba
City temple, and also a statue of his wife, all of which stand inside the temple and have their colorful outfits changed regularly.
Many friends of the Hunjis were at the celebration to participate in Havan, which is a worship rite of throwing a mixture of gourd remains into a fire, and kirtan, which is the singing of holy songs.
Kirtan typically is performed by the women and includes the dolac, or drum, explained Taruna Jodhani, a friend and wife of Hunji's physician, Dr. Madhu Jodhani.
“We volunteer together for big events,” Taruna said.
After singing and praying, participants and visitors ate many custom dishes supplied by the temple and its volunteers.
“We use ghee, which is butter, and put it in the fire,” explained Mahndra Bhardwaj, who described himself as a devotee of the temple. He volunteers all day, every day taking care of it and greeting visitors. “Ghee is for your brain, for knowledge. It is created by God.”
As the celebration neared its end around noon, Sushil Bhopla, Hardial Hunji's companion, cleaned up in the back.
“I take care of him because his wife passed away maybe 13, 14 years ago,” she said. “He enjoys the celebration.”
Appeal-Democrat reporter Kymm Mann can be reached at 749-4707 or email@example.com.