BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta,GA: Navodaya 2016 was celebrated at The Hindu Temple of Atlanta, on January 1, with great enthusiasm and fanfare. The incessant rain stopped and gave way to cool but pleasant weather. Thousands of devotees thronged the Balaji and Shiva sanctums to receive the blessings of the divine for a prosperous and healthy 2016.
Both temples and facilities were specially prepared to accommodate thousands of devotees. The deities were adorned with special flowers and ornaments to complement the festive occasion. Navodaya was heralded with Suprabhatam in both the temples. The very talented priests led by Reverend Gopal Bhattar and Reverend Srinivasa Sarma performed archanas all day long and distributed teertha prasadams to the satisfaction of all the devotees attending the celebrations.
The reverberations of the rituals rendered by the priests and devotional songs rendered by devotees will be cherished for a long time.
This year’s motto at the the HTA was “Service with a Smile”“. There was hardly standing room in both temples due to the large number of devotees. However the flow of devotees was ably managed by devoted volunteers with bowed heads and smiles on their faces. The overflowing vehicular traffic in the parking lots was redirected to the over- flow lots by cheerful volunteers and shuttle operators who braved the cold weather with smiles on their faces.
Hectic preparations were under way for several days by the volunteers of the kitchen under the leadership of P B Rao and Sai Ram Surappaneni. Mouthwatering Indian food was served with courtesy and speed to hearts and stomach’s content of the devotees.
The children were entertained with face painting and balloon twisting activities. Their happiness and cheer added an extra flavor to Navodaya.
Around 11.00 a.m. temple priest Sri Ravi Shankar performed the Pooja ceremony conferring New Year blessings to the vendors in the auditorium who heralded the New Year day with brisk business. Vendors mall was colorful with display of jewelry, housewares, garments and accessories. The nonprofit organizations spread their messages to attentive devotees.
2015 was a very eventful year for the Hindu Temple. Starting with Navodaya, it celebrated Sankranti, Ugadi, Sree Rama Navami and Brahmotsavams with great pomp and fanfare. Ganesh Chaturthi was a multi-cultural, multi- ethnic and multi- lingual event. Ati Rudram was performed over eleven days culminating in purnahuti. The reverberations of the events will be felt for a long time and cherished forever in the annals of theTemple. Rajatotsavam (25th year anniversary) of the beloved temple was ushered in with Vedaparayanam and Shata modaka homam in December 2015. The highlight ‘Akhanda Vishnu Nama Parayanam’ will culminate in Brahmotsavam in May 2016.
The President Pulipaka B Rao,was overjoyed by the success stories of 2015. He commended the robust participation of record number of devotees at all the functions at the temple. He profusely thanked the devotees for a prosperous 2015 at the temple. He enumerated the flourishing of Balavihar, and several language and dance institutions under the patronage of the temple. He expressed hope that the temple would be able to render even more social and charitable services to the community at large.
Dr P B Rao congratulated Prashanti Asireddy (Vice president), Sheela Lingam (Secretary),RaviKari ( Joint Treasurer ) and Aravind Goli ( Pooja Committee Chair ) for planning and executing Navodaya 2016 with great precision. He particularly thanked Sairam Surappaneni and his dedicated volunteer group for their selfless services in providing mouth watering Indian cuisine. Special thanks are due to Madhu Tata, Sunil Shavele, Srinivas Nalla,Shyam Malla Varapu,Anjiah Choudary Lavu, Venkat Meesala, Janardhan Pannela, Anil Yelamanchili, Sunil Gotoor, Nanda Chatla and all the countless volunteers and their families who cared for the devotees with smiles on their faces. The celebration could not have been possible but for the tireless efforts of the Navaratnas ( Priests ) and the dedicated full time and volunteer office staff. “May Lord Venkateshwara and Lord Ramalingeshwara shower their choicest blessings on all for a happy and prosperous 2016 and with their grace enable us to write a lot of success stories in the pages of the Temple during 2016”
The Hindu Temple, an iconic resplendent landmark in Riverdale,Georgia, is well known for its spiritual, cultural, and educational services to the Indian community. The temple has played a sterling role in enriching the religious diversity and enhancing the multi-cultural image of Georgia.