SVT Brahmotsavam blesses 20,000

By Murali Dharan

Over 20,000 devotees immersed in ”˜Vaikunta Abubhava’, the divine experience of the Abode of Lord Vishnu, at the Sri Venkateswara Temple’s  Brahmotsavam Festival, held over 10 days during October 8-18. It was massive, colourful and a feast for the mind, body and spirit with special attractions such as chariot processions, fireworks, free community kitchen (Annadhanam), cultural programs and, of course, the divine alankarams (decorations) with special poojas that brought out supreme divinity in the hearts of all.

It was a celebration of life, a thanksgiving to the Lord Vishnu for His protection and preservation. In keeping with this theme, the deities were decorated everyday in multi coloured fresh flowers, garlands, jewelry, colourful dresses with Utsavamoorthy appearing in various poses, riding on various Vahanas and taken in procession around temple every day. The devotees came in large numbers, young and old, from all over Australia, India and USA, participating and enjoying the festival immensely.

For over 12 months, SVT committee had planned this celebration meticulously including various community groups, Hindus of all persuasions, nationalities and linguistic origins, be it India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, South Africa or elsewhere. With pleasant surprise, busloads of Hindu Senior Citizens from Bhutan arrived during the festival. Devotees, young and old from Nepal, Thailand and SE Asia were represented. Even a group of Americans (including African American), of Vaishnava tradition, participated and said that they had never seen a temple this beautiful in North America and such diverse people with so such devotion, enjoying the festival so much.   It was inspiring to see them recite the Vishnu sahasranam as the priests started to chant. One knew straight away that they had been trained in a true Vaishnavite tradition. Community groups took great pride in taking turns to run all aspects of the festival, from pooja participation to preparing food or volunteering for many services (seva).

Inside the Temple, Holy Fire (Homam) purified and sanctified the poojas with Priests and others chanting ancient vedic hymns, charging the space with sacred vibrations. Specially invited temple musicians from India were playing traditional Nadaswaram and Thavil (Pipes & Drums) to fill the temple with divine music while devotees hailed Govinda-Govinda-Govinda in religious fervour. To the sounds of temple bell, priests performed Abhishekams and offered blessings of holy water with holy basil and prasadams. Everyday highly decorated deities were taken in processions on various vahanas, culminating in a Chariot procession on Sunday October 17. This beautifully decorated Chariot, made in traditional style, from India, was pulled by hundreds of men, women and children, around the temple, with music, dance, bhajans, chanting and other devotional outpourings.

Outside the temple, children performed various classical dances, adult groups sang in concerts with drama, yoga and other acts enthralling the audience. Children as young as four years took part in tableaus creating visual delight for the spectators who witnessed mythological stories unfold the acts of dashavataram, Krishna rasleela, story of lord Rama as a group of elder ladies chanted verses. Meantime, community groups, lovingly prepared and served thousands of plates of fresh, hot, multi course foods. Various regional groups got together to serve dishes special to their region. There was a competition of sorts as the dishes ranged from Telugu, Andhra, Tamil, Malayali and other regions. Sydney may be celebrating international food festivals in the month of October yet the best Indian regional food was served right there at the Brahmotsvam festival.

Free bus services fetched families comfortably from around the suburbs to temple. Hundreds of volunteers served tirelessly in keeping the traffic, crowd and other functions going flawlessly. It was heartening to see that this typically south Indian temple invited every one with open arms as there were volunteers speaking various Indian languages and English with the visitors explaining puja ceremonies in great detail.

Ladies participated, working tirelessly, making fresh garlands, cooking, serving alongside men, helping in various activities as families stayed  the nights by taking up accommodation nearby. The temple became truly a multicultural hub in its approach to welcome every one.   Even the local police, ambulance and others joined the bonhomie, enjoying the food, festivities and the friendship. There was divinity in the hearts of all, sharing love and happiness. Santana Dharma shined bright. It was truly a heavenly experience with more promised for next year.


(Murali Dharan is the  Vice President, SVT Association.)

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