Thieves desecrate temple

2016-05-03 09:39
Sagren Phillips, chairperson of the Northdale Siva Nyana Sabha in Chetty Road, shows the Hindu idol the thieves tried to remove from its granite wall.

Sagren Phillips, chairperson of the Northdale Siva Nyana Sabha in Chetty Road, shows the Hindu idol the thieves tried to remove from its granite wall. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Burglars smashed down the wall of a local temple and stripped the building of copper pipes, kitchen items and significant brass Hindu idols at the weekend.

The Northdale Siva Nyana Sabha in Chetty Road was desecrated by callous burglars who made off with more than R50 000 worth of items.

Hindu musical students made the discovery on Friday evening when they arrived for their weekly music lessons.

“The students found the place flooded. They looked around and found a chunk of the wall completely broken down which the thieves entered through,” said chairperson of the ashram, Sagren Phillips.

The kitchen geyser and copper pipes were ripped off the walls, six gas tanks used for cooking, two cast iron pots, a fridge and a stove were stolen.

In the temple, holy brass lamps and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses were stolen.

“It is a desecration of the worst kind. We feel totally lost and sad at what has happened,” Phillips said.

He said the thieves attempted to remove a huge brass statue of Hindu god Nataraja (cosmic dancing god). The statue is built in a granite structure, which the thieves attempted to break down with an iron pick to remove the idol.

“The statue is now bent over and damaged. The statue of Lord Nataraja is especially significant to us because it was brought from India in 1976 and the swami who brought it consecrated it in the position it still is in today,” he said.

Phillips said Swami Srila Sri Pandrimalai sat in meditation over the idol for 108 days while the idol was submerged in the ocean. The statue was then brought to South Africa for the Northdale Siva Nyana Sabha.

“It broke my heart to walk in here and find out that people had the audacity to do this to a place so sacred. They disregarded everything we hold so close and dear to our hearts,” said Phillips.

Phillips has been part of the temple since he was seven years old and said that many of the brass lamps and idols were donated by families in memory of their loved ones.

“Those stolen idols and lamps have sentimental meaning to many families in Pietermaritzburg. They were donated by some people who have even passed on now,” he said.

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said the police would investigate the incident.

“We are calling on anyone with any information to come forward. Please call the detectives at 033 387 9600,” said Ebrahim.

People who may have witnessed the break-in or hold significant information regarding the case can also contact temple member Sherwin Pillay at 074 220 0411.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  damage  |  theft

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