Grand New Year and Vaikunda Ekadasi Celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple

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 By M.K.Sriram and Akilan Gopal

PEARLAND: It was a great and divine start to 2015 for several thousand devotees who worshipped at Sri Meenakshi Temple on New Year’s day.   The forecasters predicted a rainy and cold day, but this did not make any impact on the spirits and minds of the devotees – they came in large numbers from far and wide, from tiny tots to the elderly – a truly extraordinary display of their faith.

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MTS executives honoring Shoba Ramesh and other artists

It is indeed a very rare occurrence to have Vaikunda Ekadasi falling on January 1st.   The Laksharchana for Lord Venkateswara was concluded with the participation of hundreds of devotees, while hundreds more lined up for the Vaikunda Swarga Dwara darshan outside the temple.  This is the one time every year when the “Gates to Heaven” open and devotees have the blissful experience of having darshan of Maha Vishnu in his abode in heaven.  As the doors opened at about 10 AM, there was rapturous chanting of Govinda Govinda and devotees entered the Lord’s abode.  It was an indescribable sight to see the Lord with His consorts Bhoo Devi and Sri Devi adorned with dazzling alankarams seated on His Garuda vahana.  Hundreds of devotees thronged through the heavenly gates to have darshan, the Indian Consul General, Harish with his wife among them.  At around 11 AM, the deities on the Garuda Vahanam were taken in a procession around the temple to the chanting of Purusha Sooktham and various other Vedic verses.   It was truly amazing that there was a non-stop stream of ardent devotees walking through Swarga Dwaaram from 10 AM till late in the evening.  Later at 5 PM, Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswara most beautifully decorated were taken in a procession around the temple on a pallakku (palanquin) by hundreds of devotees. The priests tirelessly performed the archanas non-stop all day and till late evening for all the deities.

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Sam Kannappan, President, Dr. SG. Appan, Trustee with Dr. GS. Goplakrishna, Vice Presdient and Dr. P. Vaduganathan, Chairman with Board and Council members of MTS.

This was also the day when. Sam Kannappan, a founding member of the temple was appointed as the President and Dr. S.G. Appan, a long time highly respected member, as trustee for a period of four years, in front of a packed devotees.

The whole atmosphere was very festive.  The afternoon cultural program “ Dhasavathar” was organized by Mala Gopal. It consist of songs and dances from local dance schools followed by Carnatic music concert by Shoba Ramesh, an All India Radio artist accompanies by Charan Rajan on Miruthangam and Divya Ramachandran on the violin.

And to make this even more authentic, local Indian restaurants brought the taste of India. Chairman Dr Vaduganathan summarized that this day has been the most unprecedented day in the temple history with an over 7500 people visiting the temple, that too in spite of  inclement weather.   MTS Joint secretary Murali Ravuri, the event coordinator was ably supported by the temple Board members, several volunteers with their spouses, their children, the temple staff, priests and shilpis by putting in hundreds of hours of hard work to make this all happen.  This is indeed a great beginning to the New Year!