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Ayyappa Padi Puja At Shiv Mandir Draws Over 500 Devotees

The chanting of ‘Swami sharanam, Ayyappa sharanam' reverberated at the Shiv Mandir of Atlanta on Saturday, December 03, 2011 as part of the Ayyappa ‘Padi Puja' celebrations. This is the second year in a row that the Ayyappa Pooja is being celebrated on a grand scale in Atlanta, and supported by the Shiv Mandir of Atlanta. 

Padi puja involves worshipping the 18 steps that take the devotees to the proximity of Ayyappa. Ayyappa devotees climb the 18 steps, or Pathinettam Padi, to reach the shrine to have the darshan of Lord Ayyappa. The 18 steps are considered as holy as the shrine itself. Padi Puja, or the puja of the Pathinettam Padi, is performed in the evening on certain days at the temple. 

Guru Swami Chandrashekar Mudigonda from Hyderabad India performed the Padi Puja, assisted by Swami Kiran Mudigonda, Priest Madav Ji of Shiv Mandir of Atlanta, Priest Ravi, Priest Phani Kumar, and Priest Rangachari.

Guru Swami Chandrashekar Mudigonda is a retired Military Officer. He has been a devotee of Swami Ayyappa for more than four decades and he has been going to Sabarimala since then. 

Swami Kiran Mudigonda, with the help of volunteers, made the holy steps look divine and natural. The puja and 18 steps Arthi was something that was worth seeing and stole the hearts of many devotees. 

Over 500 Ayyappa devotees from various parts of the US participated in the puja and bhajan programs. Pdt Gyan Prakashji Head Priest of Shiv Mandir performed the Ganesh Puja, followed by Ayyappa bhajans, Padi Puja, Shoba Yatra, Aarthi at Shiv Mandir, Aarathi to Ayyappa and the 18 steps. Later, Mahaprasad was served. 

Surinder Dhar, president of Shiv Mandir of Atlanta highlighted the importance of temples in the religious, social and cultural fabric of Sanatan Dharma and thanked the Atlanta Ayyappa Samaj for choosing Shiv Mandir of Atlanta as their place of worship. He said, “When I see devotees participating in the Padi Puja celebration, it gives me a feeling of mini- India. I can see people from all communities and states from India; the north south, east and west”. He also thanked all the volunteers for their services and said that selfless service of the volunteers is the backbone of Shiv Mandir.

Shiv Mandir of Atlanta is overwhelmed with the participation of devotees and is encouraged to perform Ayyappa Pooja every year. In 2005, the Shiv Mandir of Atlanta acquired 11.4 acres of land which is located at 890 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Sugar Hill, GA 30518. 

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