About 10,000 Hindus from Canada and the US will join week-long ceremonies in Toronto on Friday for the opening of a unique south Indian temple modelled on the 9th century Sringeri Peetam.
Built at a cost of $11 million and named after the goddess of wisdom Sri Sharadamba, the temple will be consecrated with water from more than 250 rivers around the world.
These include the Ganga and the Yamuna and the Manosarovar Lake.
The temple, which will also have nine other deities, has been built with marble and granite imported from India.
"Apart from serving as a religious shrine, the temple will also house a museum on the life of Adi Shakaracharya who set up four matts in all four corners of India," temple president Lucky Lakshmanan said.
Twenty pandits have arrived from Sringeri in Karnataka for performing the consecration ceremonies. They will be joined by 10 priests from North America.
"The statues of the deities have also come from Jaipur," temple publicity committee chairman K Sundaram said.
The consecration ceremonies will begin Friday, with the chanting of mantras from the four Vedas to 'energise' the water from over 250 rivers.
"The chanting will continue for two days after which the holy water be fully energised. We will start the actual ceremony June 20," temple religious affairs chief Raghu Ranganathan said.
Called Mahakumbhabhishekam, the consecration ceremony will include the chanting of mantras and bathing of the deities with the holy water to pass the 'energy' to the deities.
"This ceremony will make the deities divine and powerful to bestow their blessings on the devotees," says Ranganathan.
The ceremonies will continue till June 27 during which havan will be performed to propitiate the deities. These will conclude with the pouring of 1,004 vessels of 'energised' waters on the deities.
Famous Indian singers, including Narendra Chanchal, will sing bhajans during the ceremonies.
Many Canadian leaders, including Indo-Canadian minister Harinder Takhar, will attend the ceremonies.