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HTA bustles with ever larger turnout at Navodaya festival

By Mahadev Desai
February 2019
HTA bustles with ever larger turnout at Navodaya festival

(Left) HTA President Sheela Lingam (in green sari) with Executive Committee members. (Photo: Dr. B. Krishna Mohan)

On a cold Tuesday, January 1, 2019, devotees and visitors from all over Southeast thronged the Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA) Riverdale, Georgia to celebrate a joyous and spiritual Navodaya 2019 festival.

The priests had decked the deities in the Balaji and Siva Temples in gorgeous array. The learned and experienced priests Sri Gopal Bhattar, Sri Srinivas Sarma, Sri Pavan Kumar, Sri Siva Naga Kumar, Sri Sunil Kumar, Sri Ravisankar, Sri Veda Vyasa, Sri Murali Krishna, Sri Govardhanam, Sri Bharath, and Sri Subramanyam performed archanas throughout the day as devotees came to offer prayers and be blessed.

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Long queues stretched outside. (Photo: Krish Photography)

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Tickets! (Photo: Krish Photography)

The temple management and the 400 plus volunteers made elaborate arrangements to assist with parking, puja, shopping, and dining in the temple kitchen.


(Left) The new HTA President Sheela Lingam.

The Hindu Temple's new President is Smt. Sheela Lingam, an ardent and long-time devotee who has been with the Temple since 1986. She has served in various official capacities in the Temple, and she became a HTA Trustee in 1996.

She commented, "I am very happy with the unprecedented turnout of over 9,000 devotees today to seek God’s blessings on Navodaya, New Year's Day.

“The new Executive Committee and I underwent an oath ceremony conducted by the temple's attorney Mrs. Sowmya Sikhal. The Executive Committee Members are Vice President Subbiah Emani, Secretary Aravind Goli, Jt. Sec. Ravi Kari, Treasurer Sai Surapaneni, Treasurer Prasad Tummala, and Past President Kusuma Kotte.

“Committee chairs are as follows—Bylaws: Sujatha Reddy, Community Services: Kiran Shailendra, Construction: Jagan Rao, Cultural Affairs: Jyothi Chinthalapudi, Education: P.K.Raju Vanapalli, Endowment Trust: Siva Nathan, Food Committee: Tulasi Vanapalli, Fund raising: Hymavati Mikkilineni, Internal Audit: Kusuma Dronavalli, Maintenance: Ramakrishnan Srinivasan, Nomination: Bharadwaj Amaraneni, Publications: Viju Chiluveru, Religious Committee: Padma Koganti, Technology: Rajitha Reddy, Volunteer Committee: Ravi Chander, and Youth Activities: Shree Varshenee.

“The incoming Executive Committee would like to welcome the entire Hindu community to the Temple not only on January 1st but throughout the year to participate in all the events and get the Lord's blessings.”



Archana to murthis. (Photo: Krish Photography) Priests blessing devotees. (Photo: Krish Photography)

She continued, “I wish to thank all the generous sponsors, trustees, past presidents, Executive Committee members, vendors, and all the visitors and devotees. I also wish to thank scores of enthusiastic and disciplined volunteers who worked hard to make Navodaya celebrations a joyous experience. All the priests also worked hard and for long hours starting on 31st December, in putting up the captivating, artistic and colorful décor and conducting the pooja ceremonies. HTA served delicious food prepared by Sri Srinivasan and Sri Rama Krishna along with a young band of energetic volunteers who served the delicacies to thousands of devotees in the Temple Banquet hall.

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Preparing food in the kitchen. (Photo: Krish Photography) All smiles food distribution. (Photo: Krish Photography)

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Full dining hall! (Photo: Krish Photography)

“The vendors did brisk business as always. Children enjoyed delicious food and a lot of fun activities like face painting, mehendi, cotton candy, and balloon twisting. I wish to thank the police, security staff, and volunteers led by Ravi Chander for managing the parking areas.

“The Executive Committee, the Temple staff, and I will focus on building infrastructure like construction of the perimeter wall for enhanced security, beautification and landscaping around the Temple grounds, and upgrading of kitchen and dining facilities to serve the devotees better.”

Finally, she offered her heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy, and spiritually enriching New Year to all.

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Busy stalls. (Photo: Krish Photography)

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