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Thousands attend the HTA Navodaya 2012 Celebrations
BY MAHADEV DESAI
Over 8000 devotees and visitors from all over the south-east thronged the Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA), Riverdale, on January 1st to celebrate the joyous and spiritually suffused Navodaya 2012 festival.
All the deities in the Balaji and Siva Temples wore a dazzling look in their ornate fineries and colorful garlands. The dedicated priests performed archanas throughout the day blessing all the devotees who came to offer their prayers. The chief priest Sri Gopal Bhattar first performed a ceremony inside the Banquet Hall in the presence of HTA president Dr. Jayasree Moparthy, vice-president Narender Reddy, temple office manager Lakshmi Narasimhan, and other devotees, chanting shlokas and conferring his blessings for the New Year and soon thereafter performed another ceremony in the auditorium, conferring his blessings to the vendors; while Jayasree Moparthy wished a happy New Year and good luck to the vendors.
As the day progressed, more and more devotees arrived inside the two temples and after offering prayers, went around visiting and shopping at the HTA gift shop and also at various booths, which were selling sarees, household appliances and gadgets, jewelry, beads, artwork, devotional music CDs and DVDs. The service booths also kept busy, offering IT services, travel bookings, health or auto insurance, maths, tutoring etc. Some prominent not-for-profit organizations-The Art of Living Foundation, and Gaudiya Vaishnava Organization had also set up their booths to disseminate information about their organization and forthcoming events.
Didi Siddheshvari Deviji was given a rousing welcome by Jayasree Moparthy, HTA officials and devotees. She was then escorted inside the temples where she offered her prayers and conferred her blessings to the devotees. She intermingled with the vendors and kitchen staff and volunteers in the banquet hall. Didi Ji is the disciple of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj ji and founder of Radha Madhav Society. She has a deep knowledge of Hindu scriptures and is an eloquent speaker who speaks with clarity and sincerity. Genial and compassionate Didi Ji travels extensively, spreading the divine wisdom of Hinduism through her spellbinding discourses, satsangs and retreats. Didi Ji wished all the devotees a Very Happy New year and led the devotees into chanting and singing of uplifting bhajans.
Festivals and food go together! The varied menu of South Indian vegetarian splendors like spicy idli sambhar, masala dosas, tamarind or curd rice, upama, boondi ladoos, Mysore Pak, and snacks lovingly prepared in the Temple’s kitchen, by Sri Rama Krishna, Smt.Parvathy Kancherla, Ghanshyam Patel, under the supervision of food committee chairperson, Geeta Raghu and served in the spacious banquet hall, by the volunteers under community services chairperson, Dr.Sujatha Reddy, was relished by all.
The children’s activities included Ravana balloon dart game, quiz on the epics and India and Mehendi. There was also a clown, who did face painting to entertain the smaller kids. The activities were coordinated by Usha and Anjali Kumar assisted by the volunteers Usha Swamy, Narayan Swamy, Kiran Iyer, Ashokkumar Ramamoorthy, Pushkara Chaganti, Ambika Pisharodi, and Veena Rajeevan.
The current President Dr. Jayasree Moparthy commented, “I am very happy with the massive turnout of devotees today. On behalf of the trustees and executive committee, I extend New Year’s greetings to all. Further, I wish to thank all the sponsors, trustees, past Presidents, Executive Committee, vendors, devotees and volunteers for their invaluable support today.”
She added, “In the past year, we made improvements in the banquet hall and the auditorium and also completed the Homasala project. A new elevator was installed to help the elderly and handicapped devotees and visitors. For this year, we are planning to install dwajastambham for the Shiva Temple. We celebrated major Hindu festivals and also the historic and mammoth ‘Sri Lalitha Koti Nama Parayanam’celebrations.We also strive to help the community by supporting humanitarian causes like disaster-relief, helping the home-less, Sai Health Fairs, blood drives, yoga and meditation classes, Bal Vihar classes, and other worthy causes. My special thanks to Dr.B.K.Mohan,Mr.Pinnamaneni Krishna, Mr. Sai Ram and the crew for arranging smooth organized parking, and Pooja Committee Chairman Shyamala Naidu for the dazzling ornaments and alankars of the deities. I am happy that everyone has enjoyed delicious prasadam and food items. My deep thanks also to Aravind Goli and Meherlanka for looking after the vendor booths, putting up the banners etc. and to the Temple Manager, Mr.Narasimhan for the overall supervision and success of the festival. The cultural program under Syam Yellamraju (Cultural Affairs) with several talented artists was also entertaining and well attended. I am very happy that the Navodaya Celebrations were graced by Didi ji. Finally I thank from the bottom of my heart, each and every member of the Executive Committee for their unyielding support and dedication throughout the year, and my heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all”