BY MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by Suresh Volam, Sri Photos and Krish Photography
Atlanta, GA, February 6, 2020: More than ten thousand devotees and visitors from all over the
Southeast thronged the Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA) Riverdale, Georgia on Wednesday,
January 1st to celebrate a joyous and spiritually suffused 17th Navodaya
All the deities in the Balaji and Siva Temples wore a dazzling look in their ornate fineries and colorful garlands. The learned and revered priests Sri Gopal Bhattar, Sri Srinivas , Sri Pavankumar, Sri Ravishankar, Sri Murali Krishna, Sri Shivanaga , Sri Govardhanam, Sri Sunil Kumar, Sri Vedavyasacharyalu, Sri Bharath, and Sri Subramanyam cheerfully and reverently performed Suprabhatam, Siva abhisekham and Lord Nataraja abhisekham, followed with Arudra darshan and then half-hourly archanas throughout the day blessing all the devotees who came to offer their prayers. Both temples echoed with soul-soothing prayers, chantings of shlokas, and devotional songs. Around 10.00 a.m. Priest Sri Govardhanam ji performed a pooja ceremony inside the auditorium, chanting shlokas and conferring his blessings for the New Year to the vendors. Sanjay and Hemisha Pandya who arrived with the HTA Calendar 2020 were also conferred blessings by the priests.
As the day progressed, more and more devotees arrived inside
the two temples and after offering prayers, went around visiting and shopping
at HTA Gift Shop and also at various vendor booths inside the auditorium, which
were selling Indian apparel, household appliances and gadgets, jewelry, beads,
devotional music CDs and DVDs. The budding young author, Atlanta
born Kiran Bhat, who now resides in Melbourne Australia, is a
globetrotter, and a polyglot sat in his booth, autographing his debut novel ‘We
of the Forsaken World’.
Tasty food is essential part of festivals. The varied menu of South Indian vegetarian splendors like spicy idli sambhar, tamarind or curd rice, upma, boondi ladoos, and spicy snacks were lovingly prepared in the temple’s kitchen, by the kitchen staff under the supervision of Food Committee Chairperson, Tulasi Vanapalli. Team of volunteers helped in arrangement and in cheerfully serving the food in the spacious banquet hall. Children had lot of fun with face-painting, balloon-twisting, popcorn and cotton candy.
Sheela Lingam reflected on her first year as HTA president and effusively commented, “2019 was a very blissful and fruitful year for HTA and our community, thanks to HTA board members, trustees, priests, employees, devotees and volunteers. We celebrated four major events during the past year, Maha Lingarchana in the form of Dwadasa Jyothirlingas, Skanda Shasti along with Soora Samharan, Soundaryalahari Homam and Pratistapana of 108 Karanas along with Maharudram.HTA is the only Temple outside India to install carved Karanas in modern times. We celebrated our regular festivals during Sankranthi, Andal Kalyanam, Sivarathri, Ugadi, Sita Rama Kalyanam, Brahmotsav for Lord Venkateswara and Lord Ramalingeswara, Ganesh Utsav, Thaipusam, Devi Navrathri and Diwali. For children, we introduced the Bhogi Pallu ceremony for the first time on our premises. More than 1500 kids participated in our Ganesh Utsav making 2500 clay Ganeshas.The Temple has initiated Telugu teaching class “Manabadi’ in addition to classes by Balavihar.County approval has been received for the perimeter wall around the temple and we hope to see its completion and beautification of the temple grounds during the current year.”
“I am very happy with the unprecedented turnout of over 10,000 devotees today to seek God’s blessings on ‘Navodaya,” she added.
“A very special thanks to the parking crew, dedicated priests, temple staff, EC members, Volunteer Committee Chairman Ravi Chander, Vaisheshi and Naveen Bhatini, Food Committee’s Chairperson Tulasi Vanapalli and her team of cooking volunteers, Pooja Committee Chairperson Padmavati Koganti, our security personnel, and finally, the Clayton county police. My special thanks to the Vice-President Subbiah Emani, Secretary Aravind Goli, Joint Secretary Ravi Kari, Treasurer Sairam Surapaneni and Sujatha Reddy to name a few. I wish all a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2020,” she said.