New Zealanders begin New Year with hope and optimism

And Hindus pay obeisance to their favourite Lord Ganesha


A panoramic view of Auckland CBD with lights and fireworks at Sky Tower (Agencies)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, January 1, 2023

Although a majority of people of Indian origin observe their New Year during different months in the year, they join the rest of the world in marking the New Year followed under the Gregorian Calendar and 2023 was no exception.

There were among the thousands of people who had gathered in the Central Business Districts of Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch and other centres last night (December 31, 2022) to usher in the New Year with hugs, handshakes and laughter.

Such is the fraternal bond that the Indian community has fostered with other New Zealanders that they are a source of companionship, goodwill and understanding.

First to start the day

A few Pacific Island countries such as Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati have adjusted their clocks so that they are one hour ahead of New Zealand.

However, New Zealand is the first country to usher in the New Year. Scientists and astronomers agree that the North of Gisborne around the coast to Opotiki and inland to Te Urewera National Park, the East Cape has the honour of witnessing the world’s first Sunrise every day.

Since New Year occurs during Summer (contrary to Winter in the Northern Hemisphere), the country experiences a large number of tourists during the holiday season.

Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023 are special because New Zealand’s borders were closed for almost two years as safety measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic were in place. With all restrictions removed, New Zealand has revived its image as a holiday destination for people from all over the world.

From the messages, online greeting cards, and audio and video clips that are being circulated on our Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups, it is apparent that Year 2023 has been heralded with high expectations and optimism.

A Special Year for New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greeted the people of New Zealand and said, “We have a lot of work to do in the New Year.” High on the cards will be a reshuffle of her Cabinet, long overdue and of course announcement of the date of the General Election 2023.

Leader of the Opposition and National Party Leader Christopher Luxon posted a simple message on his Facebook Page: “Wherever you are, I trust you have a wonderful and safe New Year and that 2023 is all that you wish it to be.”

It would be a big year for New Zealand politics as the election is likely to be a turning point for the ruling Labour Party and the National-Act coalition, waiting to get back to the Treasury benches after six years. The last word may however belong to veteran politician Winston Peters and New Zealand First Party that he leads if the recent opinion polls are any indication. Year 2023 promises to be interesting, although politics may get murkier.

The Main Deity at Lord Ganesha Temple at Papakura, Auckland (Facebook Photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mahostavam at Ganesha Temple

Hundreds of people from Auckland and other parts of the country have been visiting the Karpaga Vinayakar (Lord Ganesha) Temple in the South Auckland suburb of Papakura, seeking the blessings of their favourite God.

Chief Priest Parameswaran Chandru said that the ongoing Mahotsavam (which began on December 29, 2021) will keep the Trustees and Priests of the Temple and devotees busy until January 11, 2023, with daily poojas in the Morning and the Evening.

“The ceremonies commenced with the inauguration ceremony and Abhishekam, Deeparadhanai and other events will take place daily. The Ther Thiruvizha or the Chariot Festival will be held on January 7, 2023. This will be followed by Theertha Utsavam or Water-Cutting Ceremony. In places like Pillayarpatti (located in the Sivaganga District in Tamil Nadu), the Utsava Murti will be dipped into the Temple Pond. In Auckland however, we will be using a small poll. The devotees can sprinkle water on themselves as a symbolic measure of self-purification,” he said.

The Utsava Murti in Papakura at the start of Mahotsavam 2023 (Facebook Photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Temple’s Main Deity, Karpaga Vinayagar (Lord Ganesha) is worshipped as ‘The Remover of All Obstacles,’ and as the ‘God of Initiation’ by Hindus all over the world for thousands of years. His Idol is, therefore, the centre of prayers for devotees as Chandru and his Assistant Priest Vasudeva Sarma conduct elaborate Rituals and Poojas, invoking the Blessings of the Lord. They and the devotees are fortunate to have the cooperation and organisational excellence of the Temple Trustees and scores of volunteers.

About the Temple in Pillayarpatti

Pillayarpatti is situated at a distance of 71 kms from Madurai and 12 kms from Karaikudi on the Thirupathoor-Karaikudi state highway. As the Temple of Lord Vinayagar is situated in this town, it came to be known as Pillayarpatti. The nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli, Chennai. Rameswaram Express and Kamban Express travel to these two railheads.

The town of Pillayarpatti is named after ‘Pillayar,’ the Tamil name for Ganesha. This ancient Temple houses rock-cut images of Shiva, Lingodbhavar as well as several other shrines. Steeped in the tradition of Agamic texts, the Temple bears testimony to the vibrant Temple culture of the Tamil people, passed down through centuries.

Karpaga Vinayakar Temple or Pillayarpatti Temple is a 7th-century CE rock-cut cave shrine, significantly expanded over the later centuries.

The Main Deity (Karpaga Vinayagar) at Pillayarpatti, Tamil Nadu (INL Archives)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Ganesha is hailed as the Lord of wisdom, the Lord of Invocation and The Remover of All Obstacles. According to people from the area, since the Main Deity fulfils the wishes of people akin to the ‘Karpagam Tree’  (or the Kalpavriksha, the ‘Giving Tree’), he is also known as Karpaga Vinayagar.

The Temple is unique in another aspect- here, Lord Ganesha appears with two hands, unlike other places where He is seen with four hands. He is also known as ‘Marudeeswarar,’ as Marudha Tree worship is followed and adding to the Divinity, Goddesses Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi are found in the same location.

“Paying obeisance to Lord Ganesha is an auspicious start to the New Year, which is observed by all. It is heartening that our Deity is gaining popularity not only among a cross-section of the population in Auckland but also increasingly among people in other parts of New Zealand and Australia. May Year 2023 bring peace and prosperity to the world and may everyone benefit from the Blessings of our Lord Ganesha,” Priest Chandru said.

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