Flushing, New York’s Bowne Street Is Co-Named Ganesha Temple Street

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At the co-naming ceremony from Left to Right: Jitendra Parekh, Shyam Patel, Ashok Vyas, Deputy Commissioner for Travel, Investment and Innovation at the Mayor’s Office Dilip Chauhan, Senator John Liu (D-11th district NY), Guru Dileepkumar, Dr. Vipul Patel, Deputy Inspector Ralph A. Clement, and others. Photo: organizers

Amidst chanting of Vedic Mantras and a ceremonious ‘pooja’ with offerings of flowers, Flushing, New York’s Bowne Street was co-named Ganesha Temple Street on Saturday, April 2, 2022. The Ganesha temple is located in Flushing in the Queens borough of New York City and has been a landmark of the borough for over 45 years, famous for its annual Ganesha Utsav and Ratha Yatra, its daily nighttime ‘aaratis’ and the delicious food from its canteen. The temple spreads over more than half a block on Bowne Street.

The Saturday afternoon unveiling ceremony began with the image of Lord Ganesha taken around the temple in a ceremonial ‘pradakshina’ (circling) by the priests who also carried the street sign, accompanied by traditional music, at the end of which, the image was taken back to the temple after a short chanting.

The two-hour long ceremony was attended by New York City’s elected officials which included Council member Sandra Ung (District 20), Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Senator John Liu, India’s Consul General  Randhir Jaiswal, Deputy Commissioner for Travel, Investment and Innovation at the Mayor’s Office Dilip Chauhan,  and other elected officials.

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Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President, Board of Trustees of the Hindu Temple Society thanked each and every person who had been supportive and instrumental in making the dream of co-naming the street come true. She said she was appreciative of all the elected officials for their continued support and hailed the temple for providing positive energy and being a welcoming place for all.

Council Member Ung called Flushing a multi ethnic community where Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, Buddhist temples, Hindu temples, Muslim mosque could be found within blocks of each other, with the Ganesha Temple as an important contributor to the neighborhood. Borough President Richards called the day historic, adding that the co-naming would make sure to preserve the history of the contributors to the neighborhood and would act as a guide to harmonious living in the midst of hate crimes which had sprung up in Queens which is home to people from 190 countries using 200 languages.

President, Board of Trustees of the Hindu Temple Society of North America Dr.Uma Mysorekar in the center, Deputy Commissioner for Travel, Investment and Innovation at the Mayor’s Office Dilip Chauhan to her left, temple priests and officials. Photo: organizers

Deputy Commissioner Chauhan called Flushing a true melting pot, with the temple acting as a landmark which attracts visitors from all over the world, and applauded Mysorekar for her leadership and effort. Senator John Liu said the co-naming of the street was representative of the goodwill the temple had generated among its devotees and among the greater community around it. Other officials, including ex Council Member Peter Coo, praised the temple’s contribution to the civic life. Consul General Jaiswal congratulated the temple for being a seat of culture and impacting the general community.

The co-naming effort had taken over a year and a half leading to the final approval in December of 2021, according to Ravi Vaidyanaat Shivacharya, Director of the Temple Religious Affairs. Speaking to News India Times, Shivacharya said, “We are the first temple in the country to have a co-name with a street,” adding organization names were not normally approved by the City Council. He said it was made possible by the collected efforts of all the elected officials, management team from the Temple headed by Dr. Uma Mysorekar, community board members and several other persons. Shivacharya said it was a landmark event, much in keeping with the ethnic population of Queens of all colors, national origins and religious affiliations.

Shivacharya said that the idea of co-naming originated in 2020 at the time of the ‘Abhishekam’ (re-consecration) of the temple, but that it was delayed due to Covid restrictions. Abhishekam was explained by Shivacharya as a necessary step of re-consecration, to be repeated every 12 year along with re-‘pratisthana’ of the temple images, and serves the purpose of preserving and renewing the energy of the temple. Although not carried out then, the co-naming was held on an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar, that of ‘Gudi Padwa’ or New Year, and the first day of ‘Chaitra Navratri’.

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