Devotees Throng HTA During Twin Celebrations
New Shiva Temple Consecrated
The Hindu Temple of Atlanta at Riverdale (HTA) was the center of spiritual activity during the week of May 24 ? 31with the dedication of a new Shiva temple and a 12-year anniversary ceremony of re-energizing the existing Venkateswara temple. The Kumbhabhisheka Pushkarotsavam, a three-day ceremony was performed to re-energize the deities and preserve the sanctity of the temple.
Thousands of devotees from all over Southeast attended the celebrations that were graced by the presence of Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, head of the Kaui (Hawaii) Hindu Monastery, and Sanmukhanath Swamiji.
Many congratulatory and goodwill messages were received on this historic festive occasion, including those from Swami Tejomayananda of the Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, India and Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue. In his proclamation, which was read out by one of the trustees, Narendra Reddy, the Governor praised the Indian community for contributing immensely to the richness and variety of cultural, intellectual and professional ethos in the State of Georgia. He said the new Shiva Temple would contribute immensely in enriching the international and multi-cultural image of Georgia State. He concluded by recognizing May 29, 2004 as ?The Hindu Temple of Atlanta Day'.
The celebrations began with a 3-day ceremony of Kumbhabhisheka Pushkarotsavam. On Friday, the statues of deities Lord Ramalingeswara, Sri Parvathavardhini, Lord Ganesha, Lord Subramanya, Bhairava, Natarja (Lord of Dance) Jnana Saraswathi and Kannikaparameswari Devi were carried into the Shiva temple. Mutthiah Stapathi performed the Netronmilanam ? ?opening the eyes' ceremony, as the worshippers clapped and chanted Om Namah Shivay. A black cow was bathed, and garlanded and gently led inside the temple to face a large mirror, so the sanctified deities could view the mirror and the holy cow for the first time. This ceremony imparted divinity to the statues of deities. The ceremony was graced by the Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sanmukhanath Swamiji.
On Saturday, worshippers circumambulated the temple carrying the deities and chanting shlokas. Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami delivered an uplifting discourse inside the Shiva Temple, which had standing room only. Following the discourse, Dr. G.V. Raghu, president of HTA recognized a few for their outstanding service and contributions to the celebrations. Plaques were presented to Mutthiah Stapathi, the priests and the host Dr.G.V. Raghu. Also recognized were Dr. Rakesh Kumar Goyal, puja committee chairman; Dr. Sujatha Reddy, treasurer; Jayashree Moparthy, assistant treasurer, Parmeswaran, office manager, the musicians from India, Dr. B.K. Mohan, construction committee chairman, architect Sharad Amrit structural engineer Suresh Dalmiya, Phani Tumalla of the food committee for providing daily breakfasts, lunches and dinners and Ghanshyam Patel and his volunteers for providing sumptuous dinner for Saturday.
Satguru Bodhinathji inveiled an oil painting of ?The Hindu Temple of Atlanta', donated by artist Sivananda Nyayapathi. The artist had spent close to nine months composing the 24"x36" oil on canvas painting out of his love for God and also as a token of his deep- felt love for his father Nyayapathi Rao. Satguru also released the souvenir published to mark the celebrations. The souvenir was later given away free of charge to the attendees.
Dr. Tyagrajan, vice-chancellor of University of Madras, who was visiting from India said, "I am really impressed by the celebrations. I feel blessed to be participating in these historic celebrations, which enhance social harmony through religious harmony. I have met some of my old friends and alumni and I have enjoyed myself immensely."
The HTA is a shining landmark of Atlanta ? a beacon of unparalleled architectural grandeur designed on the styles prevalent in Pallava and Chola dynasties and reminiscent of the famed Tirupathi temple in South India. The temple, since 1990 has been a commendable religious, cultural and social center, serving Atlanta's burgeoning Indian community. The temple, which originally had 5.3 acres of land, acquired additional 6 acres in 2001 to provide additional parking, and to construct a combined education/banquet hall, the grand opening ceremony of which was held in October 2003. With the addition of the Shiva temple, there will be an upsurge in the temple's popularity in the region.
-By Mahadev Desai
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