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How Does Architecture of Hindu Temples Symbolize Them as God's Residence?

October 10, 2011  by: Paulose  Points: 20   Category: Inspirational Stories    Views: 690

The Hindu architecture symbolizes that gods reside in the temples. The structure of the building and the rituals that are performed indicate that temples are the residential places of gods.


The Hindus believe that temples are residences of gods. Their architecture and rituals indicate that their gods live in temples as humans live in their houses. The Hindu temple is built in such a way to assure man that it is a place where he can come into contact with god. Dynamic rituals and ceremonies enable him to realize that he can be in close contact with god in a temple.

The Hindu architecture symbolizes that gods reside in temples

The Hindus believe that gods live in their temples where gods are visible and can be approached. Hence these temples are designed to bring about contact between man and god. The architecture and art of the Hindu temples are incorporated with normal lives of the Hindus. The seat where god sits is called "Garbhagraha" and the temple is called "Deva Graha" or "Devalaya" (residence of god). The place where the sacred image or idol is kept is called the "Garbhagraha" because it is like the womb or the seat of sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The temples function as a place of transcendence place where man can progress from this world of illusion to knowledge and truth. The details of their architecture can be found in the earliest records such as the Epics and Puranas and in the Agamas and Shasthras of later period. Mundaka Upanishad says that the "Garbhagraha" is the embryo within a womb or something hidden in a cave. It also says that the "Atman" or the soul lives where arteries (blood vessels) meet (in the heart), or the hub where the spokes of the wheel meet.

The structure of Hindu temples

Generally, the Hindu temples have a tower in the center, in front of which there is a hall open from three sides, held on beautiful pillars carved intricately. The devotees gather in this hall to participate in the rituals and for chanting mantras. During festive seasons, dances and music concerts are also performed in this hall. Surrounding the hall is a courtyard which can be reached through a gopuram or gateway. The sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagraha) stands at the highest place. The levels of the main sanctum sanctorum, the hall, the courtyard and gateway are in descending order.

The Hindu temples are attached to the daily lives of Hindus

From dawn to dusk the Hindus visit temples and have routine recourse with their gods. Some families have their family deities called "Kuladeivam" (deity of their clan). The Hindus have routine rituals and ceremonies that lie at the core of their Hindu religious life. Music and dance are accompanied in certain rituals. The image or idol is adorned with dress and the deity is offered with his/ her favorite dishes. For example, Lord Vinayaka is fond of a dish, a savory ball of rice flour and black gram lentils stuffed with coconut-jaggery filling. Lord Krishna is famous for his tasting butter and curd. Bhanuvad Veda says bran muffin is the favorite food of Lord Hanuman. Rituals are held in temples as if these deities are actually dressing and eating food. Cooked food offered to deities is called "Prasada" which, after offering, is shared by the devotees.

Hindu temples display their gods in celestial "groups" such as families. The idols and art works in the temples portray gods one with their families. Every family function is performed with a pooja or offering ceremony. Every evening, especially on Fridays, women take bath and attend temple with offerings such as coconut and flowers.

The Hindu temples are vitally intertwined with the lives of Hindu households. They have been symbols of faith and close relationship with God.



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