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Kumbhabhishekam News in India Tribune - August, 2008
Five-day Vedic rituals mark opening of Quad City Hindu Temple
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Rock Island, IL: Thousands of devotees from nearby towns and cities and far-flung states converged and participated in the consecration and inauguration ceremonies of the newly-built Quad City Hindu Temple here from July 30 to August 3.
The five-day festivities were packed with several homa the fire prayer sessions, chanting of Vedic mantras, singing of Sanskrit slokas and bhajans, sanctification of kalasas the sacred water-filled and decorated coconut-crowned brass pitchers, abhisekhas of deities, kumbhabhishekam, and finally prana prathishtapana the infusion of divinity into Utstava Vigrahas and beautifully-carved granite and marble idols. The celebrations were also marked by debut singing of Suprabhatam to Lord Venkateswara, the presiding deity, and the first Kalyanotstavam (ceremonial wedding) of the Lord with Goddess Padmavati.
The temple was colorfully decorated, rangolees were laid out, huge tents were erected and a special yagnasala tent was set up. Closer to the yagnasala, another exclusive tent was pitched in which several kalasas and Utstava Vigrahas were placed for various sanctification ceremonies to be performed to them.
The celebrations, under the leadership of a govern- ing body led by president Dr. Lokanatham Gumidyala, and kumbhabhisekham committee chairman Dr. Srinivas Chintalapani, were well planned by chief priest Chandrasekhara Sharma, resident priest Ramakrishna, and their team of about 10 priests drawn from various Hindu temples of the country, and several committees and volunteers. The celebrations began with Bhagavad anugna, Vishwaksena and Ganapati puja at 9:00 a.m. on July 30 and ended at about 10:00 p.m on August 3, with honoring the priests, volunteers and all those who made the celebration a grand success. In between several rituals and ceremonies were performed.
On the second day, July 31, besides all other rituals of Vishwaksena and Ganapati Puja and homas, the beautifully carved granite idols of Venkateswara Swami, His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi, Lskshmi Narasimha Swami, Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Muruga, Durga, Satyanarayanamurty, and Hanuman, and the white marble idols of Shirdi Sai Baba, Rama Parivar, and Krishna Parivar were given ceremonial baths. The highlight of the day’s celebrations was Netronmelanam or the opening the eyes of the idols by Sthapathi, and a Dharshan followed by Pushpadhivasam.
From the second day until the fourth day, many daily rituals, including Vuktahomam, Sri Venkateswara Swami Homam, Sri Ganapati Homam, Sri Rudra Homam, Sri Subrahmanya Homam, Sri Durga Homam, Sri Navagraha Homam, Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Homam, Sri Seeta Rama Homam, Sri Hanumatha Homam, Sri Radha Krishna Homam, Sri Garuda Homam, Sri Nandi Homam, Sri Satyanarayana Homam, and Sri Sai Baba Homam were performed.
The fourth day and fifth day were marked by special events. By then all the deities were moved from the tents to their designated places in the temple. Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on August 2, Rathnadhivasam and Dhanadhivasam were performed for Sri Venkateswara Swami. In the evening after Vishwaksena and Ganapati Puja, the idol of Sri Venkatewara Swami was given an elaborate and ceremonial bath with several pitchers of water, milk, curds, honey, and sandalwood water. The idol was then anointed with sandalwood paste and camphor. As the curtain was drawn for dressing and decorating the Lord, the Utstava Vigrahas were ceremoniously moved from the yagnasala to the temple and placed in front of the sanctum sanctorum for devotees to view them. While the priests chanted Vedic hymns and sang bhajans, the devotees joined them with a spirit of devotion.
The celebrations on the final day, August 3, were marked by singing of suprabhatam for Sri Venkateswara Swami at 7:00 a.m. The Lord was elegantly dressed, brightly decorated with glittering ornaments and tastefully garlanded with garlands made of colorful flowers specially requisitioned from New York and other places. Though the sky was overcast and raining, several devotees crowned the temple premises and participated in the event. It looked as though through a divine intervention, the sky was quickly cleared of the thick clouds and bright sun appeared. After suprabhatam, the devotees gathered at the yagnasala for a special homa. The homa rituals went on till 9:00 a.m. and ended with a ritualistic mahapoornahuti, when the priests and sponsors were decorated with special headgears and the kalasas placed on their heads. Then all the priests and sponsors were lined up for the special ceremony of the kumbhabhishekam. With the Kannan group in the lead playing melodious nadaswaram music, the priests, the kalasa-sponsors, and hundreds of devotees, circumambulated the temple. The priests and the kalasa-sponsors were lifted up on to the top of the temple with a specially chartered mechanical crane. The priests performed the much-awaited ceremonial kumbhabhishekam by pouring on the three sets of kalasams, the sacred water brought in brass pitchers by the kalasa-sponsors. From the top of the temple, the priests sprinkled sacred water and showered flower petals on the devotees standing and watching the ceremony. As if the gods were blessing the event, there was a momentous short drizzle, which the devotees warmly welcomed.
After the kumbhabhishekam ceremony, the devotees gathered in the temple when the priests performed archana, mantrapushpam, ruthwik, sambhavna harati and mahaprasadam to all the deities. As part of the temple inauguration celebration, a cow and calf supplied by Bill Lesage were ceremoniously brought into the sanctum sanctorum. The priests offered a special puja to the cow and the calf, and took them round to greet each deity.
In the evening, the devotees once again gathered at the temple for the first Sri Venkateswara Swami Kalyanam. The Utsava Vigrahas of the Lord and Padmavati were placed in a tastefully decorated palanquin and brought them from the temple to a tent, the venue of wedding celebration. The kalyanotsavam (wedding ceremony) was very elaborate as the priests chanted the Vedic mantras. The celebration followed a brief enjoyable cultural program consisting of a Bharatanatyam recital by Sree Devi Nair, and a classical vocal singing by Laxmi Kalluri and others.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Lokanatham thanked all the priests, board members, chairs and members of committees, sponsors, the donors and the devotees for making the celebration a grand success.
The credit for making the program a grand success goes to the Greater Quad City Hindu community. Dr. Lokanatham and his wife Ramani expressed their gratitude to the community and the Almighty. The intricately carved wooden palanquin and the ceremonial swing (zhoola) were tastefully made by an American family consisting of Mike Palanos, Mark Palanos and Matt Palanos. The Nadaswarm music was provided by the Khannan group.
Dr. Lokanatham and others honored with shawls all those who made the celebrations a grand success. Speaking to India Tribune, Dr. Lokanatham said that with the celebration of kumbhabhishekam and consecration, the first phase of the temple construction was completed. The maha kumbhabhishekam would be performed after the completion of the Indianization by raising the traditional gopurams on the temple. The work on the Indianization would begin soon. We need funds for completing the work and we welcome donors and sponsors to continue lending their helping hand. The temple symbolizes our spirituality and culture. We want our youths to imbibe them and participate actively in the temple activities and take the efforts to the next level, he concluded.
For more information, please call the temple at (309) 787-HIND (4463) or visit the temple Web site at www.qchindutemple.com.
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Quad City Hindu Temple
Address: 9801 14th St W, Rock Island, IL 61201 (Near Ridgewood Elementary School)
Phone: 309-787-HIND (4463)
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