(Click on photos for larger view.)
Atlanta, GA: Padi Pooja, or the pooja of the Pathinettam Padi, in the name of the 18 Hill Gods of Lord Ayyappa, was performed in the evening of December 9 at Shiv Mandir of Atlanta. The fourth year celebration was a treat to watch not only for local Atlanta devotees but also for those who came from Indiananoplis, Maryland, Virginia, and Charlotte. About 700 devotees from different communities (Kerala, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Kashmir, Punjab, Sri Lanka) attended this celebration and made it a huge success.
Pandit Santoshi Ji from Shiv Mandir of Atlanta performed the Ganesh Pooja. This was followed by Ayyappa Pooja, Bhajans and Padi Aarathi. Later Mahaprasad was served. Swami Kiran Mudigonda from Atlanta, Swami Shankar Iyer from Virginia, Swami Sivakumar from Maryland, other Atlanta local priest and Ram Iyer Swami, Venkat Reddy Swami, Harish Sajja Swami, Sateesh Swami, Kiran Kanne Swami, performed the Padi Pooja celebration. They were assisted by local priests Phani Kumar, Ranga Chari and Ravi Kumar.
Melodious bhajans were performed by various artists like Swami Shanker Iyer from Virgina who has released devotional albums and performed with music maestro Illyaraja’s group and the bhajan group led by Subra Viswanathan, Valmiki Raghunathan with their team.
The 18 Holy steps are the holy pathways for the Jeevaatma to reach the Paramaatma. Jeevaatma has to cross the 18 virtues to merge with paramaatma. The Holy steps 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 represent the 5 Panjendriams: (Smell, Hearing, Sight, Taste and Touch). The Holy steps 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 represent the 8 Ashtaragas: Kamam, Krodham, Lobham, Moham, Madam, Matsaryam, Thanbha and Asuya. The Holy steps 14, 15 and 16 represent 3 Gunas: Thamas, Rajas and Satva. The Holy step 17 represents Vidya and the Holy step 18 represents Avidya. By observing stringent vruthams (austerities), the Ayyappa devotees called Ayyappas and Malikappurams, purify their body, mind and intellect and achieve the ultimate sanctity to make pilgrimage to Sabarimala carrying on their head the Irumudi containing the Pooja items, to climb the 18 holy steps and have the Darsan of Lord Ayyappa.
Shiv Mandir of Atlanta is very happy to perform the Ayyappa Padi Pooja for Lord Shiva’s Son Ayyappa every year, says Anatha Musku, board member of Shiv Mandir of Atlanta. “We are excited to share that we have added a South Indian Priest in our Mandir, and also we started the construction of temple at 890 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Sugar Hill, GA 30518. A Gayatri Havan is performed at the temple construction site every Sunday at 10.00 am. We encourage our community to visit our temple and learn about the development of Shiv Mandir of Atlanta,” he added.