Shiva statue for Umgeni Road temple

31 October 2010 - 02:00 By TASCHICA PILLAY

A Durban temple is home to a newly constructed eight-metre-high statue of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.

The statue, which was transported to the temple on Thursday, will be erected at the entrance of the Shri Vaithianatha Easvarar Alayam in Umgeni Road - the largest Shiva temple in the southern hemisphere.

It was commissioned by Durban attorney Theasen Pillay and built by Umash Harripershad, who recently constructed the 13-metre-high statue of the Hindu deity Hanuman.

Pillay said he had gone through a "bad patch" five years ago, and when he got through it, he decided to do something as a sign of gratitude.

"I wanted to do something a bit grand. I saw a statue like this in India. This is a replica of the five-storey statue in Delhi. I presented a picture to the sculptor and he built it," he said.

He said he chose the Umgeni Road temple to house the statue because it was centrally located, had historical significance and was regarded as one of the oldest temples in South Africa. It also attracted tourists.

He said he was overwhelmed now that the statue was almost ready.

"The unveiling will take place in about six weeks, as there is still a bit of work to be done."

Harripershad said although he started work on the statue over four years ago, most of the work was done in three months.

"The murthi still has some work to be done on it now that it is at the temple. The solid concrete-and-steel statue is in two parts. When Theasen said he wanted something big, I told him I would have to challenge myself," he said.

Temple chairman Selvan Thaver said the installation of the statue was significant, as it would mark the arrival of Indians in South Africa in 1860.

"I think it's one of the largest Shiva statues in Durban. People travelling along Umgeni Road or visiting the temple will see it at the entrance.

"We also have a large number of weddings at the temple, and people will be able to take pictures in front of the statue. It will also enhance the features of the temple," said Thaver.