Belur Math in Howrah, West Bengal, India is conceived as a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world professing diverse religious faiths. Even people not interested in religion visit here to enjoy the peaceful ambience and attitude it radiates.
A Great Legacy
The institution is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission founded by Swami Vivekananda, the renowned Indian monk responsible for the revival of Hinduism. He was also a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It was in this significant institution that Swami Vivekananda lived the last years of his brief life (he died at the age of 39). The establishment serves as the heart of the Ramakrishna Movement.
The 40-acre campus of the Belur Math is located on the west bank of Hooghly River (Ganga). The campus comprises shrines dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi (the spiritual consort of Ramakrishna), and Swami Vivekananda. Their relics are preserved in these temples. The main monastery of the Ramakrishna Order is also there in the campus. No ritualistic offerings are made in these temples. The annual celebrations of Kumari Puja and Durga Puja are main attractions here. The tradition of Kumari puja was started by Vivekananda in 1901.
The campus also houses a museum holding articles connected with the history of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Several educational institutions affiliated with the Ramakrishna Mission are also present in the serene campus.
The Temple Displays Blended Architectural Style
The temple consecrated in 1938, was proposed by Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vijnanananda, a direct monastic disciple of Ramakrishna, was the architect. The architecture celebrates the multiplicity of Indian religions in a unique manner. The 112.5 feet high structure resembles a temple, a mosque and a church, if viewed from different angles. The temple design distinctively fuses architectural styles, motifs and imageries from a number of religions. The objective of this style is to express the universal faith that the movement endorses.
Buddhist-styled entrance façade, lofty towers resembling South Indian Hindu temples, Rajput (Hindu) and Mughal (Islamic)-styled balconies and windows, European architecture-inspired central dome, Christian cross-shaped ground plan, etc. are some examples of the unified architectural style. Doric and Greek style embellishments are also integrated in the temple structure.
The Belur Math is engaged in a range of social services such as medical service, education, women enrichment services, rural uplift and work among the labouring and backward classes, spiritual and cultural activities, etc. The centre also celebrates annual birthdays of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Sarada Devi and other monastic disciples.
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