Swaminarayan Mandir, Lenasia, 2004
This is One of Joburg’s newest places of worship, the Swaminarayan Mandir, or temple, opened in September 2004 in Lenasia, to much celebration. There’s a peacefulness in the temple interior it’s quiet, with a polished marble floor and wide prayer space facing the idols against a decorated raised platform. Intricately sculpted pillars line the walls, and the interior of the dome is lined with the same intricate carvings. The exterior is impressive: a flat, rectangular building with a small, central dome, offset with pillars on the corners and at entrances down the sides. The pillars consist of intricate PVC carvings and shapes, adding interest to the building. Flags flutter from short flagpoles on the roof. Sleek, marbled floor surrounded by intricate, moulded pillars and with PVC moulded latticework in the domem defines the interior of the Swaminarayan Mandir Mukesh Patel, the chairman of the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission of South Africa, says building the temple was very much a community effort: the R7-million needed was raised entirely by the Swaminarayan Hindu community in the city – some 400 people of a total 700 devotees nationwide.
The Johannesburg Melrose Shree Siva Subramaniar Temple
The Johannesburg Melrose Shree Siva Subramaniar Temple (JMSSST) was founded circa 1870 by the Tamil immigrants to South Africa. The Temple that initially started out as a tin shack was extensively renovated in 1996. The JMSSST is now a National Monument with a congregation in excess of 20,000. The JMSSST is dedicated to the worship of Lord Muruga, his consorts, Valli and Deyvani, his Parents Lord Siva and Parvathi and his Brother, Lord Vinayager. The JMSSST focuses strictly on the propagation of Tamilian culture, language and religious worship.
This is the most impressive Gopuram among Hindu buildings in South Africa. The Tamil Society of Pretoria replaced an early (C1914) wood-and-iron structure with a small cella and an assembly hall in 1927 designed by P GOVENDER and G KRISHNAN or KRISHNAN on his own. The cella is extremely interesting in its lower development, with a strong vertical accentuation but is capped with a disappointing and extremely flat dome. Some years later the characteristic Southern Indian Gopuram was built by Parasuraman GOVENDER and Krishna. Besides forming the main entrance to the grounds of the temple, it becomes a temple in itself, complete with two cellas and seven kalasas which surmount the tower and thus sanctify the structure, while Ganesa trumpets from the corners. The Gopuram is made up of layer upon layer of horizontal tiers in true Dravidian style and one which closely follows the Silpa Sastras. The plain boundary wall leads to the heavy, timber doors. Here the wall is ‘carved’ in deep relief. Rhythmic sets of columns enclose and capture spaces behind; these give way at the central axis of each side to projected layers of thematic niches. The final tier is lifted by means of shorter columns spatially-open, providing a deep contrast to the base. The columns and most of the other elements applied were standard concrete precast units of the time, still being made by the original manufacturer, Olde World Concrete, are the same as in the verandas of old Pretoria mansions on the other side of the city. Shrines inside the temple proper are to Mariamman, a manifestation of Parvati (shakti) and consort of Shiva, central; Subrahmanya, north, and Ganesa, south. A new Navakaragam of the nine deities was constructed against the northern site wall.