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Siewdass Sadhu single-handedly carrying rocks and sand for 25 years built a Hindu temple in the Sea – West Indies

TEMPLE IN THE SEA

During the colonial period Hindus in Trinidad needed to control the land where they wanted to build their mandir, otherwise it could be disrespected or even destroyed. Even when they had permission from a plantation owner to build their places of worship, later on this permission could be revoked. A devout Hindu gentleman in Trinidad named Siewdass built a siwala near the sea just after WWII ended but he did not own the land. Representatives of Tate & Lyle, the landowners, destroyed the temple. Siewdass Sadhu built it again, and it was destroyed again. Sadhu built the temple again and the new landowners, Caroni Ltd., destroyed the temple and took Siewdass Sadhu to court and had him fined. But he would not be dissuaded. With great devotion and much effort, Sadhu carried rocks and soil in two buckets during 

low tide to build up a pathway and foundation for his

 temple in the sea—a place that was beyond the reach

 of the landowners. Thousands of buckets later the 

temple could be built.( It took 25 years to build the temple)

In 1970, Siewdass Sadhu passed from this world, and without a dedicated caregiver, the mandir declined. The tide broke down the surrounding wall and the shrine to the right deteriorated with storms. In 1985 I walked out to the temple during low tide. The murtis were removed, but it was clear that devotees still came to perform puja here. In the 1990s a renewal of the temple began with the support of local citizens and government funding. In 1995 a new temple was created on this site, and a memorial to Siewdass Sadhu was inaugurated for the celebration of Indian Arrival Day.

siewdass-sadhu-temple-in-the-sea

This Hindu Temple at Waterloo in Carapichaima, Trinidad is testament of one man’s love of Hinduism.

Siewdass Sadhu is now a national hero. His faith and dedication has inspired thousands of people who come here on pilgrimage to honor the deities and their most fervent devotee. But, if Sadhu was with us today, he would understand the pain that devotees suffered just one year ago in August of 2007 when vandals cast several of the temple’s murtis into the sea and desecrated this sacred place. Unlike Sadhu’s time, Trinis of all faiths decried the desecration and supported the Hindu community as they processed the shock of this event. The temple is now restored, but the wound is not yet healed. Siewdass Sadhu believed in the power of Mahadev and his own faith to overcome adversity. And so it is today—though with a twist. The vast majority of Trinbagoans believe in and support the rights of their compatriots to worship freely and without fear of reprisal. Overcoming this most recent adversity is a testament to the spiritual strength of Sadhu and all devotees.


This memorial to Siewdass Sadhu is the focus of Indian Arrival Day ceremonies each year. Siewdass Sadhu is an inspiration to people of all faiths.

(contributed by: Chetan Bhatt on 28.12.2012)

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