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By Ravi R Ponangi



Atlanta, GA: The Hindu temple of Atlanta, Riverdale celebrated its 27th annual celebrations and 19th Paancharatra Aagama Purvaka Panchaahnika Balaji Brahmotsavam from May 23–29 with utmost gaiety and fervor. The seven-day celebration attracted devotees and tourists not only from all parts of Georgia but also from neighboring states.

Brahmotsavam means a grand celebration. Brahmotsavam is not only a rare and auspicious occasion but also a feast for the eyes of the devotees who gather there. The Brahmotsavam began with Ankurarpana, Punyahavachanam, Vasudeva homam etc., on the early hours of Wednesday, May 23 in the holy presence of swami Ram Kamal das Vedanti Ji of Varanasi. More than a dozen temple priests led by Sri Gopal Bhattar performed elaborate rituals.

On the first day, after Ankurarpana a flag bearing the emblem of Garuda, vehicle of Vishnu was hoisted amid rituals and Vedic chanting by the temple priests and Mangala vayadyam (playing holy ragas with musical instruments). This signaled the start of Brahmotsavam. It is believed that Garuda goes to Devalokam and invites the Devas to attend the celebration. The seven-day celebrations included a variety of religious rituals like Yagasala pravesam, Pradhana Kalasa Sthapana, Nitya Homas, Dolotsavam, Srinivasa Visesha Kalyanam, Durga deepa puja, Maha Mangala Harati, spiritual discourses, cultural programs etc.,

Every day, utsava murtis are adorned in various special alamkaras and taken in procession around the temple (prakarotsavam) on different vahanas like Hamsa Vaahana, Gaja Vaahana, Vrishabha Vaahana, Ashwa Vaahana etc., once in the morning and once in the evening.
The concluding day of Brahmotsavam on Sunday, May 27 is celebrated in a grand way with Avabhritha Utsava (special abhishekams for the utsava Murti). The Sudarsana Chakra is bathed and afterwards the Chakra was placed on a high platform, which facilitated devotees walked under it and be blessed with the water dripping down from Sudarsana.

Utsava murtis were taken around the temple in a uniquely decorated chariot (Grand Ratha Yatra) on Saturday, May 26. Visesha sayanotsavam was held on Sunday, May 27 followed by Maha Satyanarayana Puja by devotees on Monday, May 28. Mahanyasa Purvaka Ekadasa Rudrabhishekam was done on Tuesday, May 29 on the eve of Siva temple 13th Pratishta day.

Brahmotsavam and annual celebrations provided a unique opportunity for all devotees to participate in the festivities and receive the blessings of Lord. Smt. Sobha Parasuram recited Srimad Bhagavata dasama Skanda, Prof. Vasudha Narayanan spoke about worldwide Hindu culture, temples and about Hindu temple of Atlanta. Pujya Swami Abhishek Chaitanya Ji of Rishikesh spoke two days on Bhagavad Gita and Uddhav Gita during the celebrations.

All the deities in the Balaji and Siva Temples wore a dazzling look in their ornate fineries and colorful garlands. Festivals and food go together! exquisitely prepared food (Maha Prasad) was given during 7-day celebrations to all devotees free of cost. HTA dress code was strictly implemented. Devotees who came with shorts, athletic gear, torn jeans, and dresses shorter than knee length were promptly given Indian clothing to enter shrines of the temple.

Trustees, executive committee members and devout volunteers under the guidance of Smt. Kusuma Kotte, president of the temple and Smt. Phani Tummala, puja committee chair made excellent arrangements for the Brahmotsavam celebrations. Thousands of devotees from across the state and outside offered prayers on the occasion of annual celebrations and Brahmotsavam

The Hindu Temple, an iconic resplendent landmark in Riverdale, Georgia, is well known for its spiritual, cultural, educational and community services to the Georgia community. The Temple has played a sterling role in enriching the religious diversity and enhancing the multi-cultural image of Georgia.