Being in one of these major Hindu temples is an indescribable experience, a sensory overload. Inside it is dark, filled with exotic smells. There are strange sights and sounds, foreign language, wide varieties of clothing, candles, oils – every sense is involved. Some of my most vivid memories are of the complete strangeness, the differentness of these temples. They are so far out of the mainstream of what an American southern mainstream evangelical style church going boy is used to that it imprinted deep in my memory. I’ve tried to learn more about Hinduism, and I am very far from any type of real expertise, but despite my lack of understanding I found my glimpses very intriguing. The use of idols is very common, and idols are bathed, decorated, offered food, and lit by oil lamps or candles as part of the Hindu’s worship practice. One of our lessons described the process of worshiping a deity as meditating, inviting the god to inhabit the idol, treating the idol as an honored guest with food, drinks, washing, songs, anointings, flowers, lights, foods, followed by asking for favors or forgiveness.
Meenakshi Temple supposedly contains over 33,000 statues and idols. Here are some pictures of many of the statues and idols we saw in the temple.
This Ganesha is called Mukuruny Vinayakar; it is 7 feet tall carved out of a single stone. It was uncovered during a 17th century excavation.