Historic KZN temple damaged by gushing river during floods


A traditional prayer observed on Good Friday was cancelled at the Umhlatuzana Hindu Temple in Chatsworth after part of the 70-year-old building was demolished and washed into a nearby river during the floods on Monday.

On Thursday temple chairman Rodney Moodley told TimesLIVE after consultation they decided to cancel all festivals for up to a year for safety, starting with the traditional prayer usually observed on Good Friday.

“It is a major loss because like the Christian community, we also have a big Easter festival. We pray for the Mother Mariamman during this time. That’s a major loss because people have nowhere to go to pray,” he said.

Hindus observe the prayer dedicated to the female goddess of rain and protector against diseases during this holiday, dating back to the days of indentured labour when they were allowed time off as their owners celebrated Easter.

“People are sad, people are angry but what can we do? It is an act of God. It is new beginnings. What we can tell our devotees is that we will rebuild the temple one way or another.”

Morgan Chetty, another temple leader, said the temple serviced close to 5,000 devotees for prayers during festivals, including Good Friday.

“Those devotees are left without a place to worship on Good Friday. There are 5,000  devotees with no alternative place to go.”

Moodley said building the temple on the bank of a river was not a mistake as it serves an important purpose in the Hindu community.

“In Hinduism we believe the river is cleansing. We pray a lot to the female entity. We call them mother entities. The major three mothers are the earth, fire and water. We pray to the life-giving forces. One of is water and we call it Mother Ganga.”

Efforts to salvage what is left of the temple and start a rebuild are underway.

“The deities and some statues are salvageable. The idea is to try to salvage before more heavy rainfall and more is lost,” said Chetty. 

“The idea is to relocate the temple further up to another building in the same facility where the river is and secure it as a heritage site so the history is maintained,” he said.

Ward councillor Samantha Windvogel said everyone was saddened by what happened to  the temple because of the history it holds.

“It had sentimental value as well because of the river that flows. It fell into place because there was a temple and not far away was the flowing river.”

She said there was a lot of work to be done but was confident the temple would soon be open again. 

TimesLIVE

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Source: Culled From TimesLIVE.

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