NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 19, 2023 (Religion News): On Broome Street, in the heart of Manhattan’s fashionable Soho neighborhood, a Hindu temple dedicated to the elephant-headed Deity Ganesha is striving to develop its own sense of cool. Its location allows it to draw guest teachers and devotees — or at least influential fans — such as the actor Willem Dafoe, who was recently spotted wearing a Broome Street Ganesha T-shirt. This week, the 20-year-old temple is celebrating Lord Ganesha in a distinctly New York way, ending its celebration of the Deity’s birthday, the 10-day holiday Ganesh Chaturthi, with a visarjan — a ritual that sends Ganesha home by immersing His clay statue into a body of water — in the Hudson River. Shruti Bramadesam, the temple’s assistant director, wants all New Yorkers to know that the visarjan, and the temple, is for them, no matter their age, race or spiritual background. The Broome Street Ganesha Temple, she said, hopes to meet people where they are— whether they are Hindu or not.

Founded by yoga teacher Eddie Stern in 2001, the Broome Street Ganesha Temple pitches itself not strictly as a Hindu house of worship but as a sanctuary where passersby can find a few minutes of peace amid the chaos of New York. It’s a role churches and synagogues have filled in the city’s bustle since the Dutch, but where many of Manhattan’s sacred spaces are ornate monuments to their wealthy patrons of years past, the temple’s natural light and minimalist space — half yoga studio and half mandir — are made for Soho’s vibe. “The temple is rooted in tradition and history but also caters to the needs of modern Hindus or people who are spiritual,” said Bramadesam, pointing to Deities of Ganesha, as well as Krishna and Radha and Shiva for busy New Yorkers wanting to drop in to worship.

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