Monkey god statue 'biggest in Africa'
The Shri Vishnu Temple Society in Chatsworth will unveil what it believes is the largest statue in Africa of the Hindu deity Hanuman in December.
Temple officials decided to erect the mammoth statue - expected to cost about R1.2-million - three months ago during a meeting to discuss plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in the country.
In Hinduism, Hanuman is revered as the brave monkey deity and disciple of Lord Rama who fought against the demon king Ravana. He is also an incarnation of Shiva.
Project co-ordinator LC Maharaj said the statue, which is 13m high, including the umbrella over the head of the deity, was "in praise of the Almighty, without which the survival and success of Indians in South Africa would never have been possible".
He said the statue, which still requires plastering and painting, would be officially unveiled at the beginning of December. According to his research, there are no larger Hanuman statues in Africa.
"The Hanuman murthi is not only for Hindus in Chatsworth, but for all religious people - Christians, Muslims and Hindus around the world to feel vibrations from this amazing structure.
"We are working late into the night to ensure the figure will be completed by November 16 to coincide with the anniversary of the arrival of Indians. But there are so many different celebrations happening that date that we will have our unveiling in the first or second week of December."
Maharaj said they initially considered commissioning two contractors from India to oversee the project, but opted to use a local contractor instead.
"The atmosphere at our temple has been unbelievable. Devotees have volunteered their services to our worthwhile cause, and despite the great progress made so far, we still require some funding."
He appealed to community members to contribute to the completion of the project.
Contractor Umash Harripershad, who is working on the statue, said: "We have used 12 truckloads of ready-mixed concrete in this project, 53 tons of which went into the foundation alone. The temple provided the design."
He said despite working with a staff of only six to eight untrained devotees and a couple of casual workers, the project, which should have taken 12 months, would be completed in a quarter of that time.
Harripershad had been on a strict fast and had been sleeping on the floor for the past three months as a sacrifice for the work he considered "honourable".
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