Lord Sri Venkateswara enjoys festivals (utsavams), and therefore, every moment is considered a festive occasion. The most important festival is the Brahmotsavam. Here at ISKCON Pune we celebrated this festival with great festivity and joy from 8 to 12th Feb. Everyday we had different festivals. Let see them in brief.
Before the commencement of Brahmotsavam, the temple of Lord Sri Venkateswara is cleaned according to the guidelines given in the religious texts. The temple premises and its surroundings are decorated with flowers and mango leaves. This process is called AalayaSuddhi and Alankaram (decoration).
Mritsangrahanam (the process of collecting earth) is carried out on the day prior to the first day of Brahmotsavam. The temple officials pray to deities like Vishvaksena, Anantha, Sudarshana and Garuda. They also pray to Mother Earth and collect a small quantity of earth, with which the Ankurarpanam ritual is conducted, by which the earth is spread in a room and nine kinds of cereals are sown in it.
On the previous evening of the beginning of the festival Adivasam is performed. Twenty seven auspicious items are offered to Lord for his pleasure to invoke auspiciousness.
Dwajarohanam and Devatavanam
Dwajarohanam (hoisting the flag or garudadhwaja) signals the start of the Brahmotsavam. It is carried out at the Dwajasthambham. The temple officials hoist the flag (with a picture of Garuda on it) to the chanting of Vedic mantras by the priests.
It is believed that Garuda goes to Devalokam to invite Gods like Brahma, Indra, Yama, Agni, Kubera and Vayudeva and sages like Vasistha and Vishwamitra.
The Lord is taken in a procession around the streets of temple on different vahanas (vehicles). Each vahana has its own significance, and conveys the Lord’s message in its own way.
During Brahmotsavam, the Lord holds court in the main temple, after being taken around in a procession. The priests perform Naivedyam during this time.
Snapanamis the process of bathing the Lord with herbal water after the procession. It is believed to relieve the strain the Lord has undergone during the procession.
Choornabhishekam involves bathing the lord and his consorts after anointing them with sandalwood powder. The Lord is then taken in a procession around the streets of temple. The priets distribute the sandalwood powder used for the Lord to devotees. It is believed that the sandalwood powder has the power of clearing obstacles from one’s path in devotional service.
The Chakrasnanam ritual is akin to the bathing ritual after the performance of a yagna. On the morning of the last day of Brahmotsavam, the Lord, his consorts and Sri Sudarshanachakram are bathed in the Swami Pushkarini.
Devotees can also bathe in the Swami Pushkarini, along with Sri Sudarshanachakram. It is considered to be a very sacred ritual, and devotees participate in this ritual, irrespective of religion, caste or creed.
NITYA HOMAM and MAHA PURNA AHUTI
Everyday in the morning and evening homam is performed for the pleasure of Lord Sri Venkatesh. And on the last day mahapurnaahuti is performed by the priests.
LORD SRI VENKATESWARA SWAMI gets marred to Sri Devi and Bhu Devi. He gives an opportunity for his dear devotees to perform his own marriage. Priests do Kanyadan to Lord and offer their love and devotion.
On the last day of Brahmotsavam, the ritual of seeing off the rishis and Gods to Devalokam is called Devatodwasanam. It is performed after the daily archana. Lord Brahma is praised for organising the utsavam, and He is honoured by the priests and officials.
Abhishekto Mulamurti and Utsavamurti is performed with milk, ghee, sugar water, honey, curd. andjuices from natural items like fruits and coconuts. This mahaabhisek is followed by Homam and Kalash Puja.
Precession of lord
This is main attraction of the festival. On the last day Lord Srinivaswith his consorts go out in the streets and gives darshan and mercy to all the people. With different Vadyam and musical instruments Lord is taken 12 times around the temple and in the streets.
ASIRWACANAM, PANDITA SANMANAM ( Felicitation of priests).
On the last day the main priest blesses the participants and devotes who came and participated the festival. And in turn the temple management felicitates all the priests.
Dwajavarohanam or lowering the flag (hoisted on the first day of Brahmotsavam) is carried out on the evening of the last day of Brahmotsavam.
During the festival dramas, songs, natyam which depict the pastimes and teachings of Lord Sri Venkatesh are performed in the utsavamantapam.
–Ramsevak Das, M Tech, IIT Kharagpur