Maha Sabha to purify vandalised Carapo mandir

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

An opened tin of corned beed left behind by burglars at the Carapo Shiv Mandir. Photo courtesy Hansraj Ramdhanie

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Pandits Parishad will hold religious ceremonies to purify the site of the Carapo Shiv Mandir in Arima, which was vandalised over the weekend, on May 12 at 3 pm.

In a statement, the SDMS condemned the perpetrators and what it described as acts of vandalism, burglary, desecration, criminality and religious atrocity.

Vandals ransacked the Hindu temple and cooked corned beef in some of the pots used to make prasad, a traditional sweet used in religious ceremonies.

Vice president Hansraj Ramdhanie told Newsday members went to the temple on Friday around 7 pm to prepare for its Mother’s Day celebrations scheduled for Saturday and found the mess left behind by the intruders.

He said thankfully the murtis were not destroyed but jewellery on the murtis, gas tanks, ring stoves and other items were stolen, and the temple’s pantry, lighting fixtures, plumbing system and doors were destroyed.

Members of the temple said they found it vandalised on Friday evening and again on Saturday morning.

The SDMS statement said, “As a result of those shameless, heinous and demonic misdeeds, we would like to appeal to our Hindu brothers and sisters and by extension all those who denounce this gross disrespect ad blasphemy, to allow natural justice to prevail as we seek refuge at the feet of Bhagwan.

“In an effort to restore purity and atonement for the events that transpired, the Pandit Parishad in collaboration with our parent body and affiliate arms, on the advice of our Dharmacharya and senior Pandits, guided by our scriptures, will be undertaking the necessary religious ceremonies.”

The statement said all pundits and devotees are invited to the temple as the prescribed rites and rituals are performed. It said the rituals are done to mitigate any possible repercussions and reinstate sanctity to the site.

In an interview with the Section One show on TV Jaagriti, MP for Chaguanas West and SDMS legal adviser Dinesh Rambally said the temple is considered a place of pilgrimage for the community and has provided spiritual upliftment and community engagement over the years.

“We will not sit idly by. We will be dealing with it. We will engage with the religious side of things first and foremost.”

He explained that the murtis are consecrated by religious worship when they are brought to the temple and Hindus believe that spiritual life exists in them.

“We cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, treat with the situation lightly.”

He said bringing beef into the temple was an act of sacrilege against Hindu beliefs and way of life. Second to the taking of another human life is the killing of a cow, he said, and eating beef is considered a grievous sin. Thousands of people took to social media to express their outrage, he said.

“At this time, I can report the police were quick to act,” he said, adding a fingerprint exercise was done, but revealed no leads. He said clean-up is continuing and he hoped it would be completed soon.

In a brief phone interview with Newsday on Monday, general secretary of the SDMS Vijay Maharaj said it would be difficult to put watchmen at the site of each of its 163 temples across the country.

“Our temples are in secluded areas,” he said. “There’s only so much we can do.”

He said the murtis are adorned with clothing and jewellery, but it is usually costume jewellery.

“We don’t use fine jewellery. People often mistake that for something (more valuable).”

He said acts of vandalism are usually carried out by people from the area who carefully watch and plan their attacks.

He also said the utensils used by the vandals to cook the corned beef have been discarded because they have been compromised.

In April, two men desecrated the St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Circular Road, Belmont, days before the church marked its 120th anniversary. The men entered the grounds and damaged and destroyed property at the national heritage site on April 24. The church is under renovation and has not been used for over ten years because of its disrepair and is blocked off with galvanise sheets.