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Siva Temple Shrines Reverberate with Chanting of Om Namah Shivaya

Ravi R Ponangi is the Atlanta correspondent for India Tribune Newspaper. 

(Top)The Siva Linga at HTA with priests Phani Kumar Sarma and Mallikarjuna Sarma. (Middle) Deities of Parvaty and Parameswara being taken in a procession before the kalyanam. (Bottom) Bala Vihar children celebrated Sivaratri at the Hindu temple. Dr. Aruna Prasad, president of HTA commending the children for their performance.

Maha Sivaratri is a major festival that comes after Sankranti. Hindus not only in India but worldwide celebrate Maha Sivaratri in a grand manner. It is believed that Lord Shiva took the Linga avatara on this day. Siva is also married to Parvathy on this day. Another significance of Maha Sivaratri is that ceremonies take place chiefly at midnight. Devotees observe a upavasa (fast) and keep jagarana (vigil) all night and spend time in singing in the praise of Lord Siva.

This year Maha sivaratri was observed on Sunday, 26 February 2005. The Atlanta Indian community celebrated Maha Shivaratri in a grand manner. People offered prayers to the deity at homes and in temples around Atlanta. Chants of Om Namah Shivaya echoed from every corner resounding with reverence and joy. Rudram, Namakam, chamakam were continuously chanted. The name of Shiva was on the lips of every devotee. The whole day was celebrated with prayers being offered to the Almighty. The jagran continued all night long and people who observed it fasted through the night.

Temples and community shrines were the ultimate destination for every one. The Hindu temple of Atlanta, Shiv Mandir in Global Mall and Sri Shakti Mandir were decorated elegantly on the occasion and these places wore a festive look. Thousands of devotees thronged these places since early in the morning and offered prayers to the Siva lingam with traditional offerings of flowers, abhishekam of water, milk, honey, fruit juice, sugar, vibhuti coconut water, bilvapatra etc.,

The Hindu temple of Atlanta at Riverdale organized two-day special programs on 25 and 26 in connection with Mahasivaratri. More than a couple of thousand devotees attended different pujas on these two days. The Sahasra Lingarchana that was performed on Saturday, 25th was a significant event preceding Maha Sivaratri. Rituals included Mahanyasa parayanam, ekadasavara rudrabhishekam, ashtottara sata (108) Nama puja, sahasranama puja, and Parvati parameswara kalyanam on 26th evening. Lingodbhava abhishekam was performed at12 midnight. Other programs at Hindu temple included dance performances by the disciples of Sujit dixit, bhajans and music. The children at the HTA Balavihar presented their skills by chanting various slokas and bhajans. The children made a Siva lingam and decorated the lingam with a snake, Vibhuthi, and kumkumam. The children offered flowers to the lingam while chanting Lingaashtakam, Bilvaashtakam, Siva Panchakshari, Siva Maanasa Puja, Mrthyunjaya Mantra and Siva Dhyanam. The children also led other children and adults to follow in singing bhajans in chorus. Dr. Aruna Prasad, president and Dr. Manga Raju Vanapalli, Puja Committee chairman were present and appreciated children. 

Shiv Mandir As the devotees lined up from early morning, they passed before the idols of Lord Shiva and other Hindu gods chanting Om Namah Shivaya and offered milk and Ganga jal on the Shivling.

In the evening, at the Banquet hall of the Global Mall about two hundred 
Hindu families were welcomed by Chairman of the Board, Dr. Sunit Singhal, to 
participate in a Group Pooja - group meditation performed by the main Priest 
of the Temple, Acharya Ved P. Joshi. This pooja lasted for about two hours 
during which young and adults with their relatives chanted mantras evoking 
blessings and good wishes from Lord Shiva.

The Ratri Pooja continued in the Mandir Hall from 9 PM until past midnight 
and was attended by several devotees.

For the Shiv Mandir, 2005 was a great year. It has purchased about 11 acres 
of land between McGinnis Ferry Road and Hwy 20 on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in the Sugar Hill city limits. Executive committee of the Temple has plans 
to construct besides Shiva temple, a dining hall and an activity hall for the children, adults and seniors.

President of the Executive committee, Mr. RajKishor Pathak informed the 
gathering "during 2006 the committee plans to clear the land and 
perform Bhoomi poojan". He congratulated the community for its dedication 
and commitment towards the project and assured the gathering that the 
construction on the project will start early 2007.

Raj Kishore Pathak told India tribune that more than six thousand Hindu devotees lined up through out the day of Maha Shivratri on last Sunday, February 26, 2006 at the Shiv Mandir.

Laksha Lingarchana at Hindu temple of Atlanta: Dr. Aruna Prasad Kancherla, president of the HTA said that nearly 5,000 devotees visited and offered prayers at temple. He also informed that hectic preparations are being made for the unique ritual Laksha Lingarchana for Lord Siva which is scheduled to be held on April 22nd . This worship is the first time in USA and they are making one lakh Siva lingas for the worship.

Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.