MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, January 25, 2021 (ABC): After US$4 million of renovations, the Sri Vakrathunda Vinayagar Temple in The Basin is having its status as a holy site restored with the return of sacred statues. As part of Hindu tradition, the temple is renovated, refurbished and reconsecrated every 12 years. The new centerpiece of the temple this time around is a 17-layer, 350-ton granite shrine to the elephant God Ganesha. The shrine's dome, which sits outside on the temple roof, was carved from a single piece of granite weighing six tons, architect Purushothaman Jayaraman says. For Mr. Jayaraman, the temple has been a labor of love for three decades. He was the original designer when the temple was built on the site of a disused Anglican church in the early 1990s, and he also planned renovations in 2007.
The temple's grand reopening, which will take place on Monday, will be a more subdued affair than when a Hindu temple is normally reconsecrated. Strict COVID-19 protocols will also be followed, requiring devotees to undertake temperature checks and sign in with QR codes. Once inside, crowds will be funnelled through sections of the temple to maintain social distancing. The temple's community has grown from a few hundred three decades ago to several thousand, bolstered by large swathes of Indian and Sri Lankan migration to Melbourne. According to the 2016 census, there were about 135,000 Hindus in Victoria, up more than 51,000 from the previous national count in 2011.