BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Krish Photography
Atlanta, GA, January 31, 2024: Even as India immersed in Diwali-like fervor with Lord Ram chants, posters, saffron flags, diyas, and firecrackers in celebration of the inauguration of the historic Ram temple in Ayodhya with live streams of the ceremony, devotees across the globe joined the festivities with the vibe and vigor, transcending borders, be it Mexico’s first Ram Temple, or San Francisco’s Tesla light show.
Temples and organizations across the United States commemorated the historic occasion with weeklong events set to culminate on January 22. The Hindu community in the U.S., particularly Indian Americans, enthusiastically expressed their joy and devotion with huge billboards, car rallies, cultural programs, and religious ceremonies to commemorate the historic occasion.
The excitement was palpable in the Peach state of Georgia with congratulatory messages for Hindus from their constituencies and across the world from Congressman Rich McCormick and State Senator Shawn Still. “This is a huge accomplishment after 500 years of struggle, “McCormick said. Still echoed similar sentiments. “This is a monumental accomplishment considered to be part of a Hindu renaissance,” he said.
Highways of Georgia radiated with strategically placed colossal Billboards featuring Lord Ram and the majestic shrine by CoHNA (Coalition of Hindus of North America) capturing the attention of onlookers since Monday, Jan 15. Placed in prime spots in downtown Atlanta, the images were displayed for 24 hours till Jan 23. “We gave 2 different graphics which will be displayed every 80 seconds for about 10 seconds. Even though it is very expensive, it was worth it because of its prime location. It is in the most prime and busiest spot in downtown Atlanta. Traffic literally stalls there for more than 10-20 minutes. This is the biggest billboard (35 ft height x 100 ft Wide) in Atlanta which is also the prime spot (downtown connector near William street),” Rajeev Menon, VP, CoHNA said.
Also in a symbolic expression of solidarity, World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) organized a car rally to bring together members of the community and Hindu temples to mark the occasion. Participants of the car rally gathered at Shri Hanuman Mandir Alpharetta, GA, adorned with flags and banners reflecting the cultural richness of the occasion. The convoy traversed through the city of Atlanta all the way to Shri Shakti Mandir, Lake City, GA.
“The overwhelming response from the Atlanta Hindu community was beyond our expectations and the experience was nothing short of transcendental. will continue to draw inspiration from Prabhu SreeRam in our everyday life,” said Surinder Dhar, Convenor of the organizing committee.“Being the only city, which took Ram Rath Yatra in the country, perhaps in the world makes it doubly special.”
VHPA in association with Chinmaya Mission Atlanta also set up of large screen displays for live broadcast of the ceremony, Mala distribution, Puja, Kirtan – Ram Dhun, Samuhik chanting of minimum one mala of Vijay Mantra – “Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”, Shri Ram Aarti, and Prasad distribution on Jan 22.
In association with Hanuman Mandir, VHPA organized the auspicious Ram Rath Yatra, featuring a ceremonial procession of Lord Ram in elaborately decorated chariots accompanied by rhythmic beats of the drums and devotional chanting. Along with Mahaprasad, devotees also chanted Hanuman Chalisa 108 times concluding with Maha Aarti.
The Hindu Temple of Atlanta presented a Rama Nama Sankeerthanam, Sita-Rama Kalyanam, Maha Mangalarathi to commemorate the occasion and distribute Ayodhya rama mandir akshintalu to the devotees after the Kalyana.
Shri Krishna Vrundavana, welcomed families to be part of preparatory classes for Shri Rama Raksha Stotra Chanting classes between 12th January to 21st January that culminated in a group chanting on 22nd January from 6:30 to 8:00 PM EST after Shri Ram Mandir – Murthi Pratishta on 22nd January 2024 in Ayodhya.
India American Cultural Association (IACA) hosted festivities to welcome Shri Ram with recitation of 108 names, a unique “Manasa Pratishta”, distribution of Akshatam from India, Laddus, and fireworks.
The Sanatan Mandir also joined the celebrations with religious poojas and Vedic traditions including Ram Rath Yatra, Ram Paduka Pujan, Ram Durbar Abhishek, Bhajans, and Maha Aarti.
Ambaji Shakti Mandir offered Deepotsav with Dhawja Arohan Bhajan, Annakut Darshan, and special Aartis to Lord Ram and Mataji Sita.
Greater Atlanta Vedic Temple welcomed all singers/devotees to join the melody of devotion with Shri Ram Bhajan Sandhya.
Yugal Kunj offered prayers and Ramayan verses chanting, and discourse on Shri Ram’s birth and Abhishek with Aarti, cake cutting and prasad.” Devotees welcomed Shri Ram home to Ayodhya with grandeur ~ performing aarti & abhishek, offering a delicious cake, and singing & dancing wholeheartedly to the glories of Lord Shri Ram!” Riya Gehani, volunteer, said
Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Mandir (ISKCON) presented Kirtans, Homam to invite Lord Rama, Sita Ram Abhishekam, Aarti, fireworks, and prasadam.
Under the guidance of HH Mahant Swami Maharaj, over 1500 BAPS mandirs, including the Atlanta BAPS Mandir, and 21,000 satsang assemblies across the world celebrated with ‘innermost devotion’ – Shri Ram Vandana.
The Ganesh Temple of Atlanta performed Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam with archana and prasadam.
Mahalakshmi Temple of Atlanta offered Suprabhatam & Nityaradhana, Sri Rama Taraka Homam, Sri Rama Parivara Abhishekam, Aarti, Prasadam, and Hanuman Chalisa parayanam.
Siddhi Vinayak Mandir presented Shri Ram Dhun Bhajan and prasad.
Atlanta Sundarkand Group offered Sundarkand Path,Hanuman Chalisa, Ram Raksha Stotram, and Bhajans with live stream of Bhajans.
Gokuldham Haveli presented Satsang and Ram Dhoon, Palna na Darshan and prasad.
Shiv Mandir of Atlanta presented Bhajan Sandhya with Archana and Aarti.