Atlanta, GA, September 6, 2018: This year marks the tenth anniversary of the tradition of conducting Vishnu Sahasranam every first Saturday of the month amongst the Konkani community in the greater Atlanta area. To commemorate this milestone of observing the cultural traditions that have not only served to foster community but also introduce children to these riches, a two-day ‘Bhajanotsavam’ was organized in Johns Creek, GA on August 11 and 12. It was a big success, with 80 people in attendance each day.
At the venue, the altar was set up with devotion and care, well decorated with flowers, garlands and jewelry. A four-foot tall ‘deepam’ (lamp) was dressed up in colorful silk saris like one would a ‘devi’ or goddess, set in the center of an intricate rangoli of flower formations.
The program on Saturday began with a delightful ceremonial procession of Lord Vishnu in a ‘pallaki’ (palanquin) carried by men to the tune of a Kannada devotional, ‘Deva Banda Namma’ (“Our God has come”). Shortly following was the Goddess Mahalakshmi carried by women to the tune of the popular ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma’ (“Welcome, Goddess Lakshmi of good fortune”).
The processions were followed by the installation of the two Gods, invocation and chanting of Vishnu Sahasranam (the thousand names of Lord Vishnu), Satyanarayana Puja and singing of bhajans. The puja, ‘abhishek’ and arti were conducted by Sri Jayaprasad Acharya from SKV Temple, Cumming GA.
The bhajans were interspersed with classical dances by Divya Honavar and Arya Nayak. The day ended with a sumptuous ‘devasthana jevan’ (temple soul food) from SKV Temple.
The program on Sunday commenced early morning with bhajans, ‘abhishek’ and arti. The women conducted ‘Chudi Puja’ done during the month of Shraavan, at a tulsi ‘katte’ exchanging ‘chudi’ – a small ensemble of grass blades, leaves and flowers of particular plants – seeking the blessings of elders.
Kids wore the costumes of Sri Krishna and Balram.
Following was a two-hour Harikatha, an exquisite story-telling of religious stories in Konkani by the rare talent that is Smt. Bhavana Prabhu who happens to be visiting from India, and who is one of the few living proponents of this art form. The program concluded with a ‘Vittala’ dance around the lamp, and blessings by the Preist followed by a traditional lunch.
The enthusiasm with which the community participated on both days, right from aiding in the food preparation a day prior, to making garlands, decoration items and adorning the altar, was exemplary and showed positive energy and drive among all who participated – and a yearning for future community socio-religious gatherings that just might not make this a one-off event!