Source: Press Release
HELENSBURGH, AUSTRALIA, January 4, 2002: The Sri Venkateswara Temple announced today special ceremonies to invoke Varuna, God of the oceans, seas and water in general, for rain and the calming of the wind and fire threatening the area around Sydney. At least 15,000 firefighters have been battling the blazes, according to the BBC. There is no end in sight to the bush fires which are still threatening thousands of homes. One fire came dangerously close to the temple before it was extinguished by the local Rural Fire Service. Blazes have destroyed half a million hectares (1,235,000 acres) of bushland across the state for 12 days. More than 100 fires are still blazing. Ash from the fires -- which are visible from space -- has been dropping in New Zealand 2,200km (1,400 miles) away. The temple ceremony, called Varuna Homan, is being conducted in Australia for the first time. Temples around the world are invited to also pray that the fires be brought under control.