[Documentary] Montreal Murugan Temple: A Community Effort

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With the Montreal Murugan Temple festival underway – one that attracts visitors across North America- it’s the perfect time to enlighten readers on the history of the temple and how it came to fruition.

raja1What started as weekly religious poojas with merely a few members of the Tamil Hindu community, eventually evolved to hundreds and thus forming the Saiva Mission of Quebec in 1985. The committee set their main goal to open an authentic temple devoted for Lord Murugan, and as well as a center that serves the social and cultural needs of the Tamil community. Unlike most places of worships, a Hindu temple is a place of artistic representation as well. Music and dance performances or lessons are commonly held in the temple and therefore, it is not just a place of worship but a cultural center as well.Eventually, the funds were secured from the donations of thousands of devotees. In 1992, two acres of land was purchased in Dollard des Ormeaux for $450,000 even though only $135,000 was collected. This 3 phase project is valued in the millions and the Tamil community was determined enough to still go through with it.

The same year the tree-planting ceremony was completed on the site. The third phase of this ambitious project is to open a senior home and community center next to the temple, which is still under works.

The inauguration ceremony was held on May 29th, 1995 at 1611 St-Regis Blvd, DDO. The Consecration ceremony of Phase I, the Paalalayam, was performed on the 12th November 1995. In 1996, Sri Durkai Amman Shrine was built and the Consecration ceremony was held on 25th August 1996. The First Annual Festival (ten days) started on the 6th of September 1996.
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The first “Ther” (Chariot) festival was on the 14th of September and “Theertham” (Holy Dip) festival was on 15th of September 1996. Since then, the Annual Festival has always been held in the second week of August.

The commencement of the works for Phase II project, which is to build a temple, was held on 6th June 2002 on the temple soil by Dakshinamoorthy Sthapathy. Conch-Setting (Sangu Sthapana) ceremony was held on June 13th 2002. The major portion of the sculpture works were done in the period 2003-2005. The sculptors, also known as sippis are specially trained in Mahabalipuram, in Tamil Nadu. The Maha Kumbabhishekam (Ritual Inauguration and Consecration ceremony) of the Montreal ThiruMurugan Temple finally took place on Sunday May 28th 2006.
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Twelve artisans from Tamil Nadu have built a 51ft Raja Gopuram (tower) with five levels, the main altar for Lord Murugan with 32ft Vimanam, the Maha Mamndapam where Lord Shanmugar is sitting, the altars for Ganapathi, Natarajar, Venkateswarar, Nava Grahas, Sivan and Parvathi, Bairavar, Vasantha Mandapam, Sri Arumugar and the Pillars. The layout of the temple was designed in combination of science and religious practice, otherwise known as Vasthu.
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There are 6 pillars in the temple. The first one, Thiruchendur, represents the struggle between good and evil. The second represents Swamimalai which depicts pride and the fight against humility. The struggle between attachment and detachment from life to death is represented in the pillar devoted to Palani. The fourth depicts Thirparangkundram, which is where the wedding of Lord Murugan and Devaiyanai occurred. The fifth represents Thiruthani, where Murugan weds Valli and the struggle one faces in love; thus Valli embodies love. The sixth one is Pazhamuthircholai which represents two opposites: Valli and Devaiyanai.

It is important to note that unlike the ancient era where kings were at the forefront of having a temple built here, a community had come together to achieve the same feat in a number of years, relying solely on volunteers for the planning and up to the execution of the project.

*Montamil had the privilege of receiving the documentary, that was put together in 2006 by the current committee of the temple, which is narrated by the late Prof. Thiruvengadam Radhakrishnan and you can watch it right here!

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