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Thousands attend Navodaya Celebrations

By: Mahadev Desai
February 2011
Thousands attend Navodaya Celebrations Despite heavy rains, over five thousand devotees and visitors from all over the Southeast thronged the Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA) in Riverdale, Georgia on the morning of Saturday, January 1st to celebrate a joyous and spiritually suffused Navodaya 2011 festival.

The Balaji and Siva Temples were decorated and priests performed archanas throughout the day, blessing all those who came to offer their prayers. Chief priest Sri Gopal Bhattar chanted shlokas and conferred blessings on the newly elected HTA President, Dr.Jayasree Moparthy and her Executive Committee. Priest Rangachari performed another ceremony in the auditorium, blessing the vendors, and temple manager Lakshmi Narasimhan wished a happy New Year and good luck to the vendors.

As the weather improved, more people arrived to offer prayers in the temples and visit the HTA Gift Shop and booths selling sarees, household appliances and gadgets, jewelry, beads, artwork, math tutoring, devotional music CDs and DVDs. Service booths also kept busy helping visitors with travel bookings or auto insurance. Nonprofit organizations such as Art of Living Foundation, Amma Center of GA, Isha Foundation, and Gaudiya Vaishnava Organization also had booths.

One booth, manned by Meherchand Lanka, displayed paintings by Atlanta artist Dr. Sivananda Nyayapathi, whose portraits, landscapes and still lifes have been exhibited and won awards. The paintings at the booth were donated by him to the HTA for silent auction. The editor of Vidya magazine, Dr. Kumar Annavarapu, his wife, and son were also present with literature and a glossy album on Sri Sai Baba.

Festivals and food go together! A varied menu of South Indian vegetarian items—spicy idli sambhar, masala dosas, tamarind or curd rice, upama, boondi ladoos, and Mysore pak—was prepared in the temple’s kitchen under the supervision of Food Committee Chairperson, Mrs. Geeta Raghu, and Community Services Chairperson, Dr. Sujatha Reddy, and served in the banquet hall by volunteers.

Mrs. Hema Bhattar (Hindu Temple Balvihar) and Clowns of Atlanta’s Sherry Ross ensured fun and frolic for the kids, hosting activities like popping balloons, bubble-blowing; face-painting, quizzes and competitions, and a cultural program was givin in the afternoon.

Past President Hyma Mikkilineni reviewed the year’s spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian activities, including the blood drive, Sai Health Fair, free yoga and meditation classes, Bal Vihar, etc. Current President Dr. Jayasree Moparthy thanked all, especially thanked Dr. B.K.Mohan and Mr. Pinnamaneni Krishna for arranging organized parking and shuttle service during the rain. Surplus from food proceeds was to go to nonprofits. Wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year were extended to all.

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