Heavenly Gates open at the Vaikunta Ekadasi Celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple


By M. K. Sriram

PEARLAND: It was a great and divine start to 2017 for several hundred devotees who worshipped at Sri Meenakshi Temple on the very auspicious Vaikunta Ekadasi day that fell on Sunday, January 8. The darshan of Lord Maha Vishnu on this day is most important to many devotees. “The Temple” is the place to visit on this day. The forecasters predicted a very cold morning, and cold it was with temperature at 24 deg. F early morning. But braving this cold, at least 50 devotees assembled at the sannidhi of Sri Venkateswara at the main temple at around 6 AM, to partake in the chanting of Thiruppavai. It was a truly divine experience. The early morning arthi was accompanied by the beats of the chenda drums, which is a very unique Kerala tradition. By 9 AM, the crowd had grown much larger filling the temple hall. The priests started the most sacred abhishekam of the Lord to the chanting of vedic hymns. The belief is that one’s ego and sins are all washed away when witnessing the abhishekam. The curtains were then drawn for the elaborate decoration (alankaram). This was the time when the temple hall was filled with Vishnu Nama, with the recital of Sahasranamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu). When the curtains were opened, Lord Venkateswara appeared in his most magnificent and glorious form giving darshan to his beloved devotees.



While the priests made final preparations, hundreds and hundreds of devotees lined up for the Vaikunta Swarga Dwara darshan outside the north temple door. 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 10:45 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. Archana was performed simultaneously to the moola vigraha and the Utsava Murthies as the bhaktas basked in blissful delight with the Lord in their hearts. At around noon, 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 10:30 AM till late in the evening.


MTS Chairman S. Narayanan thanked Priests Sreedharan Raghavan, Pawan Kumar, Sriman Narayana and all the other priests, temple staff, Religious Activity Committee led by Sheila Sriram, Temple Board members and their families and volunteers for their phenomenal effort to make this a very fulfilling event. He particularly praised the efforts of the silpis, Ramanathan in particular for setting up and decorating the temple for this special event. This event was coordinated by Bhargavi Golla, Harini Sampath and Malathi Sundar.