CHENNAI, India –
Arjun Viswanathan stood on The road, his palms folded, eyes fixed on the idol of the Hindu deity Ganesh.
On A humid morning, The information know-how expert was ready outdoors the temple, The measurement of a small closet — barely enough room for the lone priest To face and carry out puja or rituals for the beloved elephant-headed deity, think aboutd to be the remover of obstacles.
Viswanathan was amongst A few dozen visitors, most of them tright here For The identical objective: To current prayers so their U.S. visa interviews would go easily and worthwhilely. Viswanathan acquired here the day earlier than his interview for an employment visa.
“I acquired here right here To want for my brother’s U.K. visa 10 years in the past and for my spouse’s U.S. visa two years in the past,” he said. “They have been each worthwhile. So I’ve religion.”
The Sri Lakshmi Visa Ganapathy Temple is A pair of miles north of the airport in Chennai (previously Madras), a bustling metropolis on the Coromandel Coast in southeast India — acknowledged for its iconic delicacies, historic temples and church buildings, silk saris, classical music, dance and sculptures.
This “visa temple” has surged in popularity amongst U.S. visa seekers over the previous decade; They’re typically Present in virtually any Indian metropolis with a U.S. consulate. They typically obtain a following by way of phrase of mouth or social media.
A mile amethod from the Ganesh temple is the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Navaneetha Krishnan Temple, wright here an idol of Hanuman — a deity who has a human physique and the face of a monkey — is think aboutd To personal The power to safe visas. Additionally referred to as “Anjaneya,” this god stands for power, information and devotion. On this temple, he has earned the monikers “America Anjaneya” and “Visa Anjaneya.”
The temple’s longtime secretary, G.C. Srinivasan, said it wasn’t till 2016 that this temple turned a “visa temple.”
“It was round That time that A pair Of people who prayed for a visa unfold the phrase round that they have been worthwhile, and It is continued,” he said.
A month in the past, Srinivasan said he met somephysique who acquired information of his visa approval Whilst as he was circumambulating the Anjaneya idol — A regular Hindu apply of strolling round a sacred object or website.
On a current Saturday Evening time, devotees adorned the idol with garlands Made from betel leaves. S. Pradeep, who positioned a garland on the deity, said he was not tright here To want for a visa, however think abouts Inside the god’s distinctive power.
“He is my favourite god,” he said. “Do You’d like to genuinely pray — not Solely for visa — It’s going to come true.”
On the Ganesh temple, some devotees had success tales to share. Jyothi Bontha said her visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai went And by no means using a hitch, and that she had returned to supply thanks.
“They barely requested me A few questions,” she said. “I used to be pleasantly surprised.”
Bontha’s good friend, Phani Veeranki, stood close by, nervously clutching an envelope containing her visa software and assisting paperwork. Bontha and Veeranki, each pc science college students from the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh and childhood pals, are headed to Ohio.
Both found Regarding the visa temple on the social media platform Telegram.
Veeranki said she was anxious as a Outcome of she had Tons driving on her upcoming visa interview.
“I am The primary particular person in my household to go America,” she said. “My mom is afraid to ship me. But I am excited for the alternatives I am going to have in America.”
Veeranki then handed over the envelope to the temple’s priest for him To place at the foot of the idol for a blessing.
“We have been listening to A fewpplications being rejected,” she said, her palms nonetheless folded in prayer. “I am actually hoping mine will get accredited.”
If she and Bontha make it to Ohio, They’ve to Make a journey to Niagara Falls.
“I’ve On A daily basis needed to see it,” Bontha said.
Mohanbabu Jagannathan and his spouse, Sangeetha, run the temple, which Jagannathan’s grandfather Inbuilt 1987. Their House is on a cul-de-sac, which Is taken Beneath think aboutation dangerous luck in a quantity of Asian cultures. In Chennai, It’s regular To discover a Ganesh temple outdoors cul-de-sac homes Because of notion that the deity has The power to Maintain off evil. At first, only neighbors acquired here to the temple, Jagannathan said.
“But Through the years it started incomes A unusual popularity,” he said. “A lot of visa candidates who acquired here to the temple unfold the phrase that they found success after praying right here.”
In 2009, his father, Jagannathan Radhakrishnan, reconstructed the temple and added the phrase “visa” to the temple’s identify. Jagannathan said the success tales are heartwarming; visitors typically cease by his home to thank his household for primarytaining the temple open.
“I’ve by no means been eacright hered by it,” Jagannathan said. “We current this as a service to The general public. It is a pleasure to see how joyful Individuals are As quickly as They arrive again and inform us they acquired their visa.”
His spouse said she was touched by the story of A particular person who acquired here All of the biggest method from New Delhi To want for a visa to see his grandchild after eight years aside. She remembers one other time when A woman referred to as her in tears, saying her visa software was rejected.
“Constructive, some Do not get it,” she said. “God only is Aware of why.”
Padma Kannan launched her daughter, Monisha, Who’s getting ready to pursue a grasp’s diploma in advertising analytics in Clark College. Kannan think abouts her daughter acquired her visa Because of this extremely effective deity.
“I found this temple on Google,” she said. “I used to be so nervous for her, and so I prayed right here.”
Monisha Kannan said sHe isn’t so sure she acquired her visa Because of this temple, however she said she acquired here to assist her mom.
“I am skeptical,” she said. “I am simply somephysique who goes with the circulate.”
Her mom takes a extra philosophical stance.
“We pray for Our youngsters and issues happen simply for them,” she said. “I really feel As quickly as they Bear The trials of life themselves, They will start believing Inside The power of prayer.”
Viswanathan said He isn’t somephysique “who typically think abouts in such issues.” When his brother acquired his British visa a decade in the past after supplying prayers right here, Viswanathan chalked it As a lot as coincidence. He turned a think aboutr when his spouse acquired her U.S. visa two years in the past, he said.
The day after he viwebsited the temple this time, Viswanathan’s employment visa was accredited. He’ll head to New Hampshire in A pair of months.
“It is all about religion,” he said. “Do You’d like to think about It’s going to happen, It’s going to happen.”
Associated Press religion safety receives assist by way of the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely Responsible for this content material.