Ayyappa in Africa

Guru purnima at Lenasia branch
Guru purnima at Lenasia branch

The fist time I had chance to go by road to Johannesburg was to attend the Guru Purnima celebration at our Lenasia branch on 2nd August, 2008. It was a memorable occasion as I was not alone. The car was ably driven by Sunil, the Chairperson of Pietermaritzburg Subcentre and accompanied by a group of devotees that included Avinash, Jaya and his two dear children Adhikar and Vidal, Anupama and Avitha.

The travel was on a leisurely pace as I wanted to see the rural South Africa. The excellent road leading to Joburg was a treat to ride by a car. On and off whenever we would sight a spot beautiful, we would stop and enjoy the beauty of the place.

with the visiting devotees
with the visiting devotees

We all stayed at Sugendrie’s place where with her husband Amith, she was wonderfully hospitable to all the guests. Despite my sore throat, the function at the branch went off well. Next day came with a great surprise as Naresh, the Chaiperson of Lenasia branch took all of us to a Temple at Erasmia, near Pretoria. This temple is situated in a beautiful spot, ‘Hennoys’ river too running around and the architecture, a typical South Indian style. It is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. He is a popular deity in Kerala, the south-western State of India.

Dr Kollappan of the Pretoria Bhajanai Mandram received me and other guests at the temple entrance. The inside hall space can take about 400 people and the garbha griham (sanctum santorum) was adorned by a gold plated pancha-dhatu vigraham (image of five elements) of Lord Ayyappa. The vibrations that I experienced were unmatched as from the moment that I entered the precincts, I was, as it were transported to a new world where the troubling sore throat and body ache just vanished. Dr Kollappan’s selection of song and the way he sang was inimitable. The loud chanting of “Swamiye sharanam, sharanam Ayyappa”  by all inside resonated in the hearts of all. After long many years I could listen in person to a Tamil devotional song being sung in a temple and that too in South Africa! The atmosphere was enthralling, to say the least.

Dr Kollappan with Vimokshananda
Dr Kollappan with Vimokshananda

In my Talks to the assembled devotees I expressed my gratitude to Lord Ayyappa without whose Grace that I would not have had the opportunity to visit. I explained that how every Hindu from childhood is trained to adore three devatas – one grama devata – the village God, then the kula devata – the family God and finally the ishta devata – the Chosen deity – and how Lord Ayyappa was intimately familiar to me from my childhood as our pre-monastic family’s kula devata. My talks centred around Lord Ayyappa, His sports with the devotees and the famous Shabarimala in Kerala and finally how devotion to God could enable a person to cope up with the everyday new challenges of this modern era.

Dr Kollappan while speaking about how the conceived idea of building a Temple for Lord Ayyappa came about, narrated the wonderful incidents that brought its fruition ultimately. He was visibly moved and we too, when we learnt that the White gentleman who sold his plot of land had a dream earlier that a Temple would be built there. if you can read Tamil, you can find an article that appeared in Kumudam.

7 comments

  1. My most Rev Maharaj ji,
    I wish I was there with you. It is all the Lila of the Lord. Is Lord Ayyappa in another form of Vishnu?
    Pranams
    Hiru Mukherjee
    UK

    Dear Hiru babu
    To know more about Lord Ayyappa and the legend please visit here.
    With love
    Swami Vimokshananda

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  2. Revered Swamiji,

    This was a lovely experience to know about South Indian Style temple in SA. Thanks to Avitha didi for sharing this info with me. Grateful. THANKU GOD. tears…. WOW. GOD gave us devotion in our hearts. We are BLESSED we have YOU…

    Sunny, New Delhi, India

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  3. Most Revered Maharaji
    Please accept humble Pranams!
    It was a tremendous blessing to travel with Maharaj! The wonderful, divine and spiritual conversations that were shared by Maharaj with his travelling devotees was so inspirational. Maharaj’s caring, sharing and loving nature was “Out of this World”, and we were really overwhelmed. The Ayappa Temple also raised so many of us to such great heights!

    Thanking Maharaj, from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the opportunity to be in HOLY COMPANY and allowing us to visit with him the Holy Places in our land. This Tour will be Treasured for a lifetime…
    Sunil Partab
    Pietermaritzburg, SA

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  4. Revered Swamiji

    Thank you for giving myself an opportunity to see the beautiful temple. It was through the grace of Pujya Swamiji that I have had the opportunity of seeing the temple for the first time although I live approximately 20 km across the Magaliesberg mountains . The satsang (20/09/2008) was indeed soul stirring and Swamiji’s speech on devotion ‘See/seek God through the hearts of devotees’ was an apt close to a day filled with the association of devotees.

    My spiritual filled weekend did not end there. Sri Devan Reddy invited myself and the family to spend the Sunday with Swamiji at the caves of Cradle of Mankind.It was indeed an outing with Swamiji and the devotees that will ever be etched into our memories. It was remarkable to see the youthful band of devotees follow Swamiji into the depths of the earth.

    The hospitality offered by the Ranamakrishna devotees of Gauteng was indeed overwhelming. SWAMIJI would not allow us to travel back to Pretoria without having lunch. Amith and Sugenthrie opened up their home to all the devotees and we truly had Satsang with all the devotees.
    The comment made from the family is that they found the devotees very approachable and hospitable.

    Thank you your grace for a weekend filled with spirituality and warmth.

    Inba Govender
    Pretoria

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  5. Respected Swamiji
    So long staying in Joburg I never knew about this Ayyappa Temple. The design of the temple was indeed appealing. I specially enjoyed the devoted singing of Dr Raj Kollappan who mesmerised us.
    Thank you Swamiji for asking me to accompany you to this holy place.
    Shaimel Singh
    Joburg

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  6. Yellorukkum Vanakkam!
    I greet you in the beautiful name of amma Adiparashakti, father namah shivaya.& our great father namo venketeshwara.
    My name is Sagaren & I was so so privileged & honoured to be a part of the 2012 Ganesha prayer in Johannesburg. For me it was a dream come true. I have been a devotee of my religion because I love all forms of kadavul that’s why I practice religion & I was privileged to witness the kumbha abishekham. I just broke down & cried from the beginning to the end because every belief of mine was realized at this prayer.
    The way the devotees carry themselves their humble love! Dr Kolappan – I have no words to describe him except to say to see a man with so much love; to see it on his face; to hear in his voice; I consider myself truly, truly blessed. May the lord continue to bless him & guide him through all the days of life! May his discourses reach every Tamil & other language groups in South Africa, because he has taken my learning far beyond. Thank you!
    Vanakkam & nandri
    Sagaren Naidoo
    UK

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Sagaren
      Thanks for your visit to this site and also your valuable comment!
      Your deep faith in Hinduism is much appreciated.
      Yes, Dr Kollappan is indeed a rare, noble person whom I had the opportunity to meet and discuss at Sri Ayyappan kshetram at Erasmia. He invited me and showed around the wonderful only temple for Sri Ayyappan in this country.
      May the ever gracious Lord help you gaining an insight into our religious practices!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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