Sanatan Mandir’s historic Pran Pratishtha Mahotsav
(Left) The Mandir’s shikhar.
The beautiful spring day of Friday, April 28, 2017 was indeed a red-letter day for the Sanatan Mandir as it celebrated the fulfilment of a long-held dream of a team of fiercely dedicated members, generous donors, and volunteers in Atlanta, Georgia. Now the fruit in the form of an architectural jewel of a temple with a captivating shikhar is for all to see and admire. Sanatan Mandir’s joyous and reverential Pran Pratishtha and Shikhar Abhisheka Mahotsav from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, April 30 was celebrated by more than 2,500 devotees.
Congratulatory messages were conveyed by Consul General Nagesh Singh, GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon. Attending were Consul D.V. Singh, Cobb County Commissioner (Dist.2) Bob Otts, dignitaries from BAPS Mandir, Gujarati Samaj of Atlanta, Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Shree Shakti Mandir, and more. Celebrations commenced on the auspicious days of Akshaya Tritiya /Parshuram Jayanti and ended on Adi Shankara Jayanti. The elaborate ceremonies were performed by Sanatan Mandir priest Acharya Pramod Padhiji, priests from temples in Georgia and other states, and pooja and other ritual coordinator Praful Desai. Ceremonies started with Sarva Devata Anugya, Acharya Padhiji initiating the ceremony but handing over to Sri Venkata Krishna Sai Swarna, who has previously conducted 132 mandir inauguration ceremonies.
Gau mata poojan – Kamdhenu pravesh, Maha Sankalpa Vakyam, Ganapati Poojan, Panchang Pujan, and Punyaaha-vachanam followed. Aalaya vastupoojan ceremony and Dwar Pooja was done to sanctify the energy of the Mandir building and Mandir’s entrance doors respectively.
A tent with five havan kunds was set up on the east side of the complex where Laxmi/ Ganapati/ Vaastu/ Navagraha Homam were performed. The tent reverberated with chantings of Vedic hymns and mantras. The havan concluded with an aarti by over 600 devotees. Delicious mahaprasad was enjoyed by all.
(Left) Deities in the temple. (Photo: Soham Photography)
On Saturday all the deities of the Mandir were infused with energy by mantras and rituals. After Ganesh puja, yantras of each deity were placed on the pedestal of the respective murti to officially commence the Pranpratishtha and Shikhar Abhisheka Mahotsav. Sarva Devata Vandan ceremony was obeisance to all the deities: Lakshminarayanji, Shri Ramji, Laxmanji, Sitaji, Hanumanji; Ganeshji, Hanumanji, (Das Swaroop) Shrinathji, Shri Venkateshvar Swamiji, Shivalinga, and the Navgrahas. Trustees were provided with a puja thali with which they did Annadhivaas, Jalaadhivaas, and Pushpaadhivaas, consecrating the deities in grains, water, and flowers. Two members from each trustee’s family then did Bimba Snaan, bathing the image of their chosen deity in a mirror. The priests then connected all the deities by tying a sacred thread to each other, the Shivalinga. The actual infusion of pran, life force, was done by performing Nyaas by three designated priests led by Sri Sai Swarna.
The Nyaas ceremony was performed behind curtains. Devata Shringaar followed. Each Deity was clothed in ornate fineries and embellished with ornaments and fresh rose garlands. The lights in the prayer hall were switched off as all the devotees waited with bated breath to look at the decorated deities. They closed their eyes and together recited mantras until the curtains parted and the dazzling deities were unveiled! It was a magnificent sight to behold. Delight, awe, praise, and veneration filled the air along with chants of beautiful hymns. The first aarti was offered to the new deities who were now infused with pran.
Since the Mandir observes Panchayatan system of worship envisioned by Sri Adi Shankaracharya, that is the worship of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Mata, and Surya, the priests lit up the five yagnakunds in the large tent and performed the yagna. The devotees then offered oblations to the respective deities as part of the Sarva Devata Havan. All joined in reciting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ and ‘Brahmamurali surarchita lingam.’ An enthralling dance and music offering to the deities by a few dance academies, Srividya, and BalaGokulam children, which was emceed by one of the trustees Suja Katarya and devotee Vibha Veeraghavelu, was appreciated by all. It was heartening to see many children attending. The ceremonies concluded with the first daily evening aarti in the new Mandir.
(Left) Mandir circumambulation. (Photo: Soham Photography)
The much awaited ceremony on Sunday was the Shikhar kumbha abhisheka. Devotees assembled in the prayer hall, and 108 ladies carried colorful, sanctified kalashes on their heads as they circumambulated the Mandir complex to sanctify it. The water in the kalash was then offered to the Shiva linga as an abhisheka.
(Left) Devotees in the temple. (Photo: Soham Photography)
The crowning moment came with the Shikhar Kumbha Abhisheka and Shikhar Alankaar puja. The shikhar is considered the head of the Mandir. Through the shikhar, divine energy enters the Mandir and permeates the deities. Dr. Anantha Kamath and wife Sucheta, who had donated for this honor, led the devotees towards the shikhar. A special crane carried the priest and the Pradhan kalash Yajman to the top of the shikhar. The abhisheka was performed with loud chanting of “Hara Hara Mahadeva” and the gold kumbha was garlanded. What a sight! The devotees then reassembled in the prayer hall. A very rare chanting from all the Vedas—Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva—magnified the uplifting spiritual vibrations. As is customary, all the priests were felicitated by the trustees.
Sanatan Mandir’s President Nik Mainthia and Chairman Vir Nanda thanked all and encouraged financial support. Chairperson Mrs. Devyani Desai thanked all and noted that the beautiful temple also has classrooms, dance studio, dining hall, etc. available for various events.
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