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New Electric People Mover

Last year two pilgrims were taken through the gardens in our road-weary gas-guzzling, past-its-prime People Mover. They were moved to upgrade future pilgrims' experience, and made a gift to inspire an electric one. It arrived and was blessed two days back. We have named it Mayil, Lord Murugan's vahana, the peacock. It is a giant step up for hosting guests in the sacred gardens. Of course, it's quiet, and you can talk while it is running and people can hear and understand you. Our old one forced us to turn off the engine if we wanted to share something. Those days are history. Jai Murugan!

The Hawaiian Honu, Green Turtle

The silpis have reinstalled our rose granite turtle near Iraivan. It is one of the small carved marvels that pilgrims stumble upon in their explorations of the sacred gardens. The short story is that the fins were broken after it arrived from the Artha Enterprises worksite in Bengaluru four years back, so new ones had to be carved. They arrived in November and have been affixed in the last few days. This honu, symbol of widsom and good fortune, sits on his rock overlooking Iraivan Temple. With thanks to our multi-talented silpis.

Some honu facts: The Hawaiian turtle, also known as the honu, is a beloved symbol of good luck and longevity in Hawaiian culture. These gentle sea creatures can often be found basking on the sandy shores or swimming gracefully in the warm waters of the islands. With their green and yellow shells and friendly faces, honu are a cherished sight for both locals and tourists alike. In Hawaiian tradition, the honu is seen as a symbol of wisdom and is said to bring good fortune to those who are lucky enough to spot one. They also play an important role in Hawaiian marine life and are protected under state law. Whether you're swimming with them, watching them sunbathe, or simply admiring them from the shore, the honu is a truly special and revered creature in Hawaiian culture.

The honu is also commonly known as the green turtle. It gets its name from the greenish color of its cartilage and fat, which is visible through its translucent skin. The green turtle is considered an endangered species globally, according to IUCN Red List. Human activities such as hunting, egg collection, coastal development, pollution, and accidental capture in fishing gear have all contributed to the decline in green turtle populations. Conservation efforts are in place to protect the species and its habitats, such as protected nesting beaches, but more needs to be done to ensure the survival of this magnificent animal.

Old Man Palms

For a couple of months now intense work has continued in the landscaping right near Iraivan Temple. Four stone circles are being created, raised gardens which hold five Old Man Palms each, (Cocothrynax crinata), a native of Cuba. It has a hairy white thicket surrounding the trunk, and some say it looks like an old man's white beard. Also, the team continues to cut and manage the new grass, which is clearly thriving in the tropical sun and rain.

Lotus Blooms Again!

Years back we had ponds, large ponds 100 feet across, packed with lotuses. You could not even see the water they were so dense. Then along came a voracious fish, the talapia, who loved their taste and devoured every one.

We have been without lotuses all those intervening years, til now. With the help of Piragash and Kauai members, we are getting them again, and this one bloomed today with multiple blossoms. A joyous thing to see. We will now work to keep the fish away from them so they will flourish again. A little tutorial on lotus for the uninitiated:

Hinduism equates the lotus with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. The most common lotus seen in Hinduism is the white lotus flower. However, the pink lotus flower is considered to be the most divine and only awarded to those of the highest standing. Hindu deities are often seated on a lotus. And it is said that each chakra has lotus-like petals.

The lotus flower is the foremost symbol of beauty, prosperity and fertility. According to Hinduism, within each human is the spirit of the sacred lotus. It represents eternity, purity, divinity, and is widely used as a symbol of life, fertility, ever-renewing youth.
One of the most common metaphysical analogies compares the lotus' perennial rise out of the mud into faultless beauty to the evolution of consciousness, from instinctive impulses to spiritual liberation.
In Hindu sacred texts each human is urged to be like the lotus; they should work without attachment, dedicating their actions to God, untouched by worldliness, like water on a lotus leaf, like a beautiful flower standing high above the mud and water.

Story of the Siam Rose

One of the rare and unique flowers in Siva's Sacred Garden is the Etlingeri corneri. It was discovered only 20 years back or so in the jungles of Thailand, and through an amazing story (which is told on the linked video), it came to the Aadheenam before anywhere else in America. We have four clusters now and they are all a bit hidden from view, so we thought to bring this gem forward today, as it is in full bloom during Mahasamadhi days.


Growing Green Gardens

Aum Namah Sivaya!

Recently work has begun on the landscaping immediately surrounding Iraivan Temple's foundation. For the most part this means preparing the ground for the hardy grasses that will surround the temple. In other areas, the landscaping is growing in lush and full. Below we present to you some aerial footage of the plants and streams along Rishi Valley, to the west of the temple.

"God is with us always, even when we are unaware of that holy presence. He is His creation. It is an extension of Himself; and God is never apart from it nor limited by it." - Gurudeva

Ganesha and Murugan Murtis Grace Our Front Entrance

Many years ago a family commissioned these black granite murtis for placing outside their home. Years later plans changed and they no longer needed the murtis, deciding to donate them to our monastery. In discussing where these murtis could call home--at least for the time being--we noted than many general visitors stop by during our closed hours, so enriching the experience at our very front entrance (outside the gate) was felt to be most appropriate. A granite Sivalingam is already there, so now Ganesha and Murugan join Siva. A couple weeks ago when SSC sishya Gaurav and Ripla Malhotra family was here on pilgrimage, they and two Pillaiyar Kulam construction crew, Raymond and Kawika, helped to installed the two Deities.

New Sign for Rudraksha Forest Gate

A new sign has been installed at the entrance to the Rudraksha Forest and Hanuman. It is an experiment with new technology--the art is printed directly on an aluminum plate that measures four feet high and nine feet long. The printing is beautiful, and we will now see how it weathers in the tropical climate. Sadasivanathaswami and Kumarnathaswami took it out three days back and permanently attached it between the entry and exit gates. Now visitors driving down the road will have a strong landmark to find the forest.

Volcanic Cinder

For years we have bought black cinder in 20# bags for our tropical propagation efforts. Our high rainfall (up to 122" a year) requires plants to have excellent drainage, lest they drown during weeks of daily rainfall. Black cinder is the ideal medium for this. Light and porous, it allows water to reach the roots but then keep moving down and away from the plant.

Recently a local soil expert offered to ship us 40 yards of black cinder from the Big Island, at a savings of 80% from our old Home Depot source. We said yes, only later discovering this container was meant for his business, and he rerouted it for the monastery and reordered for his own needs. Goodness is still alive and well in the Pacific Islands.

The slideshow explores the world of lava rock.

Bonsai Trees Closeup

For many years our local sishya Tandu Sivanathan has patiently, carefully nurtured various bonsai trees on the Aadheenam grounds. Here are closeup photos of some, revealing nuanced results of the art form. More photos to follow at a later time.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

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