The world has finally found a way to celebrate the diversity of religions.
Ever heard about the temple of all religions? God may have made humans, but you gotta give us some credit for making our own version of God. Religion is something very clearly man-made, and yet it is often perceived as something exceeding our existence; an invisible force pulling people in a certain direction, towards a certain ideology. The utter diversity of religions in this world is enough for us to get a glimpse of the extent of individual differences, but it has some drawbacks too. Religious clashes become too common and places become exclusive to a single faith. However, amongst all these differences in ideologies, we sometimes get the most unique, most unifying of experiences. Evidence?
The Universal Temple, or The Temple of All Religions, situated in Kazan, Russia, is constructed with the purpose of valuing not one, but all of the world’s major faiths.
A beautiful symbol of religious unity
Standing tall and proud on the banks of river Volga, this temple is a patchwork puzzle composed of pieces from theologies like Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and the religions of China and Japan. As diverse in religion, as diversein creativity.
It is not a traditional chapel with religious ceremonies and prayers; instead it is a cultural Centre meant to celebrate different faiths, doubly serving as the residence of its owner’s family and his assistants. On the outside, it looks like a tight cluster of mis-matched cupolas, domes, and spires incorporating unique religious architecture from all over the world.
There is a Christian cross, the Chinese dome, the Muslim crescent, and the Star of David, with a Greek Orthodox dome here and a Russian minaret there. You can gauge the influence of Jewish synagogues, Islamic mosques, Hindu mandirs, and Christian churches- all brought together in a bright and colorful attempt at communal harmony.
Ildar Khanov and a message from Jesus
The story behind this temple is almost too dramatic and biblical to be true. You see, its creator and owner, Ildar Khanov was a local artist and philanthropist who led an interesting life. He claimed that he met Jesus when he was 3 years old and it was war-time, and this encounter made him embark on his journey as an eccentric artist and a psychic healer. On one hand, his sculptures and paintings adorn many Russian museums and are much admired, and on the other hand, he is known for his efforts in treating drug addiction and alcoholism.
And then, one day, Jesus appeared to Khanov while he was meditating. He was ordered by Jesus himself to get up early the next day and manually start working on a temple that honored all the world religions. So he began this project back in 1994, intending to construct a place that would serve as the confluence of sixteen religions of the world. Unfortunately, he died in 2013 when the temple was only partially built, so he was never able to see his dream completely realized, but work on the temple continues.
What has become of the Temple of All Religions today?
After Khanov’s death, his assistants lived on at the site and took the work on this somewhat ecumenical temple forward, albeit a little slower. These people were actually Khanov’s former patients, who had been impacted by him and joined him in his quest as workers or as sponsors. They covered the building with the neon greens, yellows, and blues of stained glass, mosaics, and painted domes, presenting a striking view against the forested background. For us, the diversity of faith is visible in the very, many colours this site boasts of.
Words like ‘Peace’, ‘Brotherhood’, and ‘Solidarity’ are engraved on the insides as well as the outsides of the temple in various languages. On the door, you can see a sign that says ‘For Eternal Construction’, below which is a box for donations. Perhaps this indicates that if possible, the construction will extend beyond the originally intended 16 religions, which seems like a giant step towards religious harmony.
While The Temple of All Religions is not currently open to the public, it is a popular landmark in the city of Kazan, where tourists and devotees alike long to get a glimpse of this wonderful place which is the pinnacle of creativity and inclusion. One of the best places to visit in Russia, this wonder should now be on your wander-list.
Would you like to visit this unique temple when it finally opens up its treasures for the world to see? Tell us below!