Hindus trek 21 miles on spiritual ­pilgrimage to Concord temple

Hindus trek 21 miles on spiritual pilgrimage to Concord temple

Hindus trek 21 miles on spiritual ­pilgrimage to Concord temple
Sathish Gurukkal, a priest at the Concord temple, performs milk Abhishekam for a devotee who has walked a long ­distance as a pilgrimage. Milk Abhishekam is a prayer for purification of the soul; a prayer for “satya” which is truth. (Tamara Steiner photo)

CONCORD, CA (Feb. 15, 2024) — In a vibrant display of faith and cultural celebration, several thousand devotees participated in the annual Thaipusam Walk organized by the Shiva Murugan Temple on Jan. 27.

The pilgrimage, dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Murugan, marks a significant event in the Hindu calendar. A festival steeped in mythology, Thaipusam honors the triumph of good over evil – symbolized by Lord Murugan receiving the invincible spear Vel from Goddess Parvati and using it to vanquish a demonic army.

In India, devotees embark on a pilgrimage to the Murugan temple on the Palani mountain during the Tamil month of Tai.

The local Thaipusam Walk was a 21-mile spiritual journey commencing in San Ramon and weaving through Walnut Creek before reaching its zenith at the Concord temple. Participants journeyed from as far as Fremont and San Jose to partake in this sacred event.

Volunteers played a pivotal role, offering breakfast and snacks along the way and serving lunch in tents across the street from the temple. The pilgrimage route utilized the Iron Horse and Contra Costa Canal trails, creating a shared path for spiritual reflection and community bonding.

The Shiva Murugan Temple has been rooted in California since 1957, when American-born Hindu guru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami founded it in a small wood-framed house in San Francisco. The temple relocated in 1988 to a larger site in Concord chosen for its historical significance as a place of worship. Originally owned by Lutherans and later by the Greek Orthodox community, the site now encompasses the temple proper, a social hall in the basement, an office, classrooms and a private residence for priests.

Under the guidance of the Saiva Siddhanta Ashram, the temple was renamed Shiva Murugan Temple. Skilled artisans from India, each specializing in different facets of temple construction, are diligently working on a new temple. Completion is anticipated by the winter of 2025, promising a grand culmination of cultural, religious and architectural significance.

The Thaipusam Walk stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of devotion and the vibrant tapestry of Hindu culture woven into the American landscape.