WHERE WE WORSHIP
Hindus worship at Healing Stones
By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Faith Editor
Where we are: A puja service is held in Wahiawa on the third Sunday of each month.
Our numbers: An average of about 40 people attend the service.
Our leader: Sankrit professor Rama Nath Sharma, assisted by S. Ramanathan.
What's special about us: One of the few Hindu services held regularly on O'ahu, the puja (a devotional ceremony to honor the god Shiva) takes place at the site of the Healing Stones in Wahiawa.
In the service, they bathe the largest stone in water, milk, yogurt, ghee (clarified butter), honey, sugar and a blended mix of five fruits. Then they wash the god and dress him with flowers and robes, chanting the name of the god, praying not for themselves but for the world, living and dead.
Our history: In 1988, Ramanathan, a Hindu, learned about the Healing Stones, which were said to hold extraordinary powers.
In the 1920s and '30s, cultists from across ethnic and religious lines flocked to the site of the stones, fed by a steady diet of newspaper stories, including this Jan. 31, 1939, article in The Advertiser:
"The crowds became so large, and the odor of decaying leis and food left as offerings became so noticeable that residents of Wahiawa believed (it) to be a health menace and requested the Board of Health to close it. Various doctors declared the rays of the sun would kill any germs that might adhere to the stone from the kisses of fervent seekers after health and in a month or two the popularity of the stone's alleged healing powers waned."
When a friend took Ramanathan and his wife to see the stones, enclosed then in a shelter on California Avenue near Ka'ala Elementary, he saw in the largest one the form of Shiva, one of the three major gods.
The next year, a nonprofit group was organized; the organization helped raise money for a marble enclosure for the stones, which was built in 1996.
What we believe: As Hindus, they believe in more than one god. Their trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva Êmake up their highest gods, explained Ramanathan, a professor at the University of Hawai'i's medical school. And each major deity has a wife.
"The women have the power," he said, "the men only act."
Hindus also believe in karma and reincarnation, he said, adding that through good acts and rebirthing, one can attain nirvana.
What we're excited about: The group is hosting a cultural program at 6 p.m. Sept. 27, with flute and santoor music, and an Indian odissi dance program, at Keoni Auditorium, East-West Center.
Contact: Ramanathan, 395-1181.
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