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Matka and more for thousands at HTA’s Spectacular and Joyous Ganesh Chaturthi

By Mahadev Desai
October 2019
Matka and more for thousands at HTA’s Spectacular and Joyous Ganesh Chaturthi

 

 

(Left) Sparklers for festivity, even if it’s not Diwali! (Photo: Sri Photos)

The Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA) in Riverdale, Georgia, celebrated a spectacular and joyous 7th annual Ganesh Utsav celebration from September 2-7, 2019. Thousands of devotees and visitors from all over Atlanta and the Southeast attended. On the last day, Indian Consul General Dr. Swati Kulkarni came and was warmly greeted with traditional Indian welcome by the HTA President Sheela Lingam, HTA officers, and priests. After offering her prayers, the priests conferred their blessings on her. Later on Dr. Kulkarni addressed the huge gathering under the canopy.

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Greenery for the eco-friendly theme. Don’t look so surprised, bunnies! (Photo: Sri Photos)

The festival was eco-friendly this year, with a rainforest theme and a large clay idol of Ganapathi from Hyderabad.

Throughout the Utsav, elaborate rituals, archanas, chanting of shlokas and Ganesha mantras were done by priests, and devotees joined in bhajans. All the deities wore their fineries and flower and fruit garlands.

An eco-friendly clay Ganesha-making workshop started with prayers. Over 50 volunteers assisted kids and adults all day to make the idols. Festive music was provided by nadaswaram and drums. Children were taught to do Ganesh puja and homam. Later, they took their clay Ganeshas home, but not before more fun with face-painting, mehendi, and cotton candy.

Kitchen volunteers served thousands of devotees. HTA provided laddu and vada for naivedyam, and parents brought Ganesha’s favorite food, modakam. The grand pooja concluded with Mangala Aarathi and blessings to the children. HTA president Sheela Lingam thanked all.

 

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Street dancing and colored powder, even if it’s not Holi! (Photo: Sri Photos)

(Left) Breaking the matka, with water hoses to battle as well! (Photo: Sri Photos)

On Saturday, a spectacular visarjan mela provided nonstop entertainment from 10am to 9pm. Dance and music students in colorful costumes performed solo and group items before the idol of Lord Ganesha: classical; contemporary, folk, and fusion dances, dance-dramas, and devotional songs. A pulsating ancient drum beat from Tamil Nadu came via Ohio’s Mazhangu Parai team. Street dancing with sword dance, teen maar, dand pradarshan, and dancing to drums and dhols added vibrancy to the festival just before the visarajan ceremony. Kids enjoyed matka-breaking or handi competition.

 

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Lively kids, as well as adults, presented a variety of dances. (Photo: Sri Photos)

About 300 kids participated in the arts competition in the Shiva Temple. Prizes were awarded for coloring, drawing, and canvas. The rangoli competition had three winners. The judge for the exciting laddu auction was Dr. Kulkarni. Laddus raised over $10,000 for the Temple.

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Who’s driving that truck?! And what’s in the back?! (Photo: Sri Photos)

A splashing sendoff for Ganesh ji! Into the pool with rose petals—and HTA president as well. (Photo: Krish Photography)

Finally it was time to bid farewell to much-loved Lord Ganesh. Enthusiastic devotees in kurtas and saffron headbands, carrying saffron flags, came out from the canopy, dancing and shouting “Ganapati Bappa Morya” to the pulsating beat of dhols as Lord Ganesh’s idol was placed on a truck, and slowly carried in a procession. A helicopter showered Ganesh with flower petals. Magical fireworks added extra sparkle. Two girls performed a scintillating devotional dance amidst thunderous applause. Ganesh visarjan was performed in a rubber pool on the Temple plot with joyous shouts and wishes (agale saal jaldi aa) for his quick return the following year. As they say, “with the immersion ceremony, the Form (physical) returned to the Formless (spiritual).” The Ganapati idol became one with the water.

Ravi Chander, HTA Volunteer Chair and organizer of the event, said “Ganesh Utsav strengthens the bond of brotherhood and guides the people to peace and prosperity like any of our other festivals. This auspicious festival brings excitement for kids of all age groups. Ganesha is the Lord of arts and sciences and the Lord of wisdom. He is revered at every auspicious beginning. While growing up I heard that Ganesha resides where there is uthsaham (excitement), so it is very important for us to have that spirit of enthusiasm, excitement, and happiness in celebrating him. It is befitting that we celebrate the Utsav in an exuberant way. … Our ultimate aim is for our kids to have fond memories of their growing up and absorbing rich Indian culture. We have only so many opportunities to do so and we chose to have kids participate, have everlasting memories, show their talent during this Utsav from making clay Ganesha to nimmajan procession. On behalf of all volunteers we thank each and every one for giving us the opportunity to serve the Temple and our great Indian diaspora that had an opportunity to experience the utsav. A big Om to all!”

Website Bonus Feature

Video:
https://www.facebook.com/volamthebest/videos/1389568201218405/?t=3

Photo Galleries:
https://www.facebook.com/sriphotographs/photos/a.2266248066806985/2266259553472503/?type=3&theater

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“Many hands make light work!” (Photo: Sri Photos)

Thanks:
Ganesh Program coordinator Ravi Chander
Ganesha-making: Radhika ji & Nanda ji and volunteers
Kitchen: Committee Chair Dr. Tulasi Vanapalli
Cultural program: Vaisheshi Jalajam and Jyothi Chintalapudi, HTA Cultural Chair.
Emcees Vikas Goyal, Janardhan Pannela and Anshu Sharma.

Dances: Kuchipudi dances by talented students of Atlanta Dance and music Academy's Gurus Jyothi Chintalapudi; Sridevi Dadithota; Sridevi Ranjith; Pushyami Lanka Gottipati,Varsha Krupananda;Latha Sriram; Neelima Gaddamanugu, Aparna Turaga, among others. Gayathri Subramaniam’s students regaled the devotees with their Hanuman Chalisa rendition. Diya Ghosh performed a scintillating dance. Leera Rawal, a student of renowned Birju Maharaj did a stunning Kathak dance. And a graceful Odissi dance in fetching costumes by students of Bhikipta Panda added extra flavor to the entertainment. Akhil of Sree Dutta Raga Dance Academy wowed the audience with his electric moves.
Well trained students of Kala Vasudevan, a trained Carnatic classical and light music singing also impressed with their singing.
Rendition of Carnatic and Hindi classicals on violin and piano added to the variety of the cultural segment. Atlanta‘s Dance and Song Gurus Viji Murali; Swathi Kari and Deepa Sriram were also applauded for their singing prowess.

Sri Pavankumar ji performed many poojas and bhajans.
Sri Photo's, who captured captivating photos and videos of the entire event.
Visitors had the smooth parking experience thanks to Ganesh utsav volunteers Madhav Kasam and team.

Without Vaisheshi & Rajender Janumpally, Anand & Sneha Bukka, Hanu Krothapalli, Deepa, Sunil Gotoor, Mahesh Koppu, Naveen Bathini, Meher Saride, Niranjan, Samir Shah and their commitment, it would have been impossible to accomplish something of this magnitude.
In addition, we would like to recognize all the people who donated generously for this program. As a result of these collective efforts, thousands of devotees were able to attend and enjoy 5 days of Ganesh celebrations. Without your participation, this event would not have been a success. God Bless All.”

Since 2012 Volunteers with their families and kids have come together with the help of HTA to host this festival so all can make some time to visit, pray and celebrate. Volunteers have worked relentlessly for over 3 weeks before festival and 1 week during the festival to create this outcome.


 

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