KAPAA, Hawaii November 21, 2023 (Associated Press, by Deepa Bharath): It is the only all-granite, hand-carved Hindu temple in the West built without power tools or electricity, and it’s nestled on one of the smaller islands in Hawaii surrounded by lush gardens and forests. On the island of Kauai, the presence of the Iraivan Temple — a white granite edifice with gold-leafed domes, modeled after millennia-old temples in South India — is unexpected and stunning. Less than 1% of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents are Hindus and on Kauai, the number of Hindus may not even exceed 50, according to some estimates. But that hasn’t deterred the two dozen monks living at the Kauai Aadheenam campus from being good neighbors and stewards of their faith tradition, drawing pilgrims and seekers from around the globe. In this all-male temple-monastery complex, the monks study and practice Shaivism, a major tradition within Hinduism, which holds Lord Shiva as the supreme being.

One of the order’s monks is Paramacharya Sadasivanatha Palaniswami, who came to the Kauai community of Kapaa in 1968 with his teacher and the center’s founder, the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. He says the Iraivan Temple was inspired by the founder’s mystical vision of Lord Shiva seated on a large boulder on these grounds. Its construction began in 1990 and continued after the founder’s death in 2001. The word Iraivan means, “He who is worshiped” in Tamil, a language spoken about 8,000 miles away in southern India. The monks created an entire village in India for the artisans who hand-built the temple over the last 33 years, said Palaniswami. Illuminated only by oil lamps, Iraivan has no fans or air-conditioning. Its architectural style is from the Chola Dynasty, which ruled parts of what is now South India and Sri Lanka for about 1,500 years, starting in 300 B.C. The main Deity is the 700-pound quartz crystal Siva Lingam, an abstract representation of Shiva. The campus also houses Kadavul Temple dedicated to Shiva in the cosmic dancer form, or Nataraja.

Much more on Iraivan Temple at source including several colorful photos.


Also view a short video of Iraivan Temple and Kauai Aadheenam monks here: