BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, June 7, 2018: Sri Srinivasa Kalyanotsava, the divine wedding of Lord Venkateshwara, organized by Sri Krishna Vrindavana (SKV)Temple ofAtlanta, attracted well over 300 devotees from Georgia,Alabama,North Carolina,South Carolina and Tennessee on May 12, 2018 at the Gurukul inDuluth.
Orchestrated along the lines of a wedding ceremony, the Kalyanotsava was replete with vibrant decorations, varied offerings and buoyant devotees decked up as wedding guests from the bride and groom’s sides. Devotional Bhajans or Devara namas accompanied by instruments and traditional dance performances throughout the rituals sanctified the sanctorum.
Millions of devotees in South India visit three significant Punya Kshetras (pilgrim places) – Tirumala to get the blessings of Kanchana (money and gold) Brahma Venkateshwara, Udupi to get the blessings of Anna (meal) Brahma Krishna and Pandarapura to get the blessings of Naada (music) Brahma Panduranga Vittala. Puttige Mata, through the Kalyanotsava, strives to create the heavenly experience of visiting all the three places at the same time on the auspicious occasion.
Priests Jayaprasad Acharya and Yogendra Bhat presided over the rituals, performing the ceremony to celestial perfection. “We were engrossed in the proceedings so deeply that the several long hours felt like a short few minutes. The experience was mesmerizing. My eyes filled with tears of joy; ears filled with melodious music; heart filled with bliss and my mind was at peace, “said Kruti Srinivasa, devotee in charge of flowers and decorations for the event.
Rituals for the Kalyanotsava began the previous day with “Tarakari Shastra”, where vegetables were arranged in decorative patterns and chopped to required sizes after prayers. The priests use plantain to assess an approximate count which generally turns out to be a very close approximation, as it did this time around too.
Devotees brought in fresh cooked sweets, fruits, and flowers for the Lord’s offering and actively participated in the procession of the bride Sri Devi, Bhoo Devi and the bride groom, Lord Srinivasa and then bringing back home the vigrahas (statues) to which they performed their pooja.
Ashtavadhana Seva (eight different kinds of offerings) including Sangeetha (music), Nritya (dance), Naadya (instrumental), recital of Vedas ( such as Sama Veda) were offered as part of the proceedings. All traditional rituals of a wedding, including Mangala Sutra dhaarane followed by garlanding of Lord Venkateshwara and his consorts enriched the experience of the holy matrimony.
Consistent with the Udupi Anna Brahma tradition, all attending devotees were treated to a sumptuous lunch with dozens of menu items after the wedding procedures. The lunch was served in the traditional way with rows of devotees sitting on the floor.
The Kalyanotsava, a culmination of dedicated efforts of volunteers planning the program through different streams of decoration, musical show, dance, cooking, resonated with its devotees. “We have a rejuvenated hope and enthusiasm that they now can continue to perform the spiritual, religious events and festivals that they used to perform inIndia while they were growing up under the guidance of their Mata Gurus and can pass on such customs to the future generations that call Atlanta their home,” said Srinivasa.
SKV Temple of Atlanta was recently established by the Puthige Matha in Udupi, Karnataka, for the devotees of South East region of USA. With several locations across the world, Atlanta is the fourth location in the US. SKV houses Idols of Sri Krishna, Lord Hanuman and Sri Raghavendra Mruthika Brindavana and performs daily poojas and all religious events throughout the year. You can find more details at https://skvatlanta.org/