BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, June 1, 2021: The fragrance of lush green mango leaf thoranams and sounds of devotional music welcomed devotees all through the day on the festive occasion of Sri Rama Navami at the Hanuman Mandir in Alpharetta on April 21, 2021. The well-attended event drew close to 6000 devotees all through the day, with everyone receiving Maha prasadam.
The temple brimmed with day long activities as priests led by Sriman Swami performed various pujas, divine recitations (parayanam) and offering to fire (homam) during the day followed by Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam in the evening. Deities bedecked in vibrant flower garlands and jewelry added to the devotional fervor. “The whole ambience was charged with intense devotion and was definitely a sight to behold,” commented a devotee.
A pandemic and cold weather notwithstanding, devotees gathered in the evening to attend the celestial wedding, Kalyana Mahotsavam, of Sri Rama and Sita. The event was streamed online as well for those who could not attend in person. Volunteers and priests put in month long efforts including sanitizer kiosks, mandatory masks and social distance protocols to ensure safety of the devotees. Huge space heaters provided warmth and comfort to devotees as they submerged into divine bliss. Warm food was offered along with the traditional prasadam of panakam (Indian lemonade), vadapappu (fried lentil batter), laddu, and pulihora (tamarind rice) to all devotees. The hall reverberated to the chanting of Rama namam and Jai Hanuman by devotees. Several devotees commended the safe and spectacular celebration of Sri Rama Navami at Hanuman Mandir.
“This successful grand event was completely coordinated and run by our community and temple volunteers taking into account Covid precautions to support our wonderful priests in the festivities. From the temple board we sincerely appreciate the hard work and dedication over the last 4 weeks extended by our devoted volunteers,” said Ramu Arunachalam, chairman, Board of Directors, The Hanuman Mandir.
During the event, the temple unveiled the 3D design of the upcoming Mandapams project for Lord Hanuman, Lord Sri Ram Parivar (replicating Ayodhya temple design) and Lord Sri Jagannath Parivar (replicating Puri temple design) with Sriman Swami explaining the individual design elements of each Mandapam. The designs were received well by the audience, with plenty of applause.
Sri Rama Navami, one the most celebrated Hindu festival is observed to commemorate the birth of Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu in human form in the land of Ayodhya. Rama Navami is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (April/May) (8 days after Yugādi) and coincides with Vasant Navratri or Chait Durga Puja. Hence, in some regions, the festival is spread over nine days. This day, marking the birthday of Lord Rama, is also observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita, also referred to as Kalyanotsavam.
Hindus also perform the rituals of Kanya Puja on this day, where 9 girls, considered manifestations of Devi, are invited at home and paid respect A prasad consisting of sooji halwa, kala chana and puri is also prepared and offered to the girls after the puja ritual.