Sri Meenakshi Temple ‘Kalyana Mahotsavam’

From left: Lord Ganesha, Lord Chandikeshwara, Lord Venkateshwara, Goddess Meenakshi, Lord Sundareswara and Manonmani , Lord Muruga with Valli and Theyvayanai.

From left: Lord Ganesha, Lord Chandikeshwara, Lord Venkateshwara, Goddess Meenakshi, Lord Sundareswara and Manonmani , Lord Muruga with Valli and Theyvayanai.

By Dr. Venugopal Menon

PEARLAND: Certain experiences happen but seldom, and they happen only to the destined.

Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland just concluded its ten-day grand commemoration of ‘Mahotsavam’, the magnificent, anniversary extravaganza.  From Thursday, April 18 to Sunday April 28, the entire temple atmosphere was transformed into one of supreme celestial ambiance with religious, cultural and social activities celebrating the divine glory of Goddess Meenakshi.

As per the legendary Agama traditions that guide Sri Meenakshi Temple, as supervised and performed by the honorable priests Sri Manicka Sundara Bhattar, Sri Kalyana Sundaram and others, and adhering to austere spiritual and religious requirements, the elaborate ceremony was planned and prepared with all the infinite details meshed in to their appropriate places.

The event was inaugurated on Thursday evening with the Vigneswara Pooja as is the auspicious custom of every Hindu religious function, getting the blessings from God Ganesha for its successful progression.  The following day, there was Homam and special Abhishekam for all the Utsava Murthis performed in the tent pitched outside, where the ritual was repeated daily through the festival.  The highlight of Friday morning was dhawjarohanam, hoisting of the flag that declares the traditional inauguration of ‘Utsavam’, the annual temple celebration.

On Saturday, April 20 was the ornate coronation of Goddess Meenakshi, the heavenly ‘Pattabhishekam’, when Chairman Tupil Narasiman, bestowed with the customary honor on behalf of all the devotees, formally accepted and handed over the regal scepter.  It was followed by the procession of the Utsava Murthis in the ‘Poo Pallakku’, the palanquin, beautifully decorated with flowers.  It was a magnificent spectacle to watch the parade with the Murthis adorned in their godly vehicle wrapped up with over five thousand light golden and pink carnations.   The festivities were enriched by the accompanying ‘Mangala Vadyam’, the auspicious Nadaswaram by Shri Murugadoss along with N. Ganesan and P. Shanmugasundaram on the Thavil, artists who were brought from Canada .

Attendees enjoying the grand feast during the festivities at Sri Meenakshi Temple on Sunday April 28.

Attendees enjoying the grand feast during the festivities at Sri Meenakshi Temple on Sunday April 28.

There was traditionally prescribed poojas every evening with the Utsava Murthis dressed up with resplendent radiance and taken out in a procession around the Outer Praharam.

Cultural programs were organized during the evenings of the Mahotsavam, which richly augmented the artistic elegance of the atmosphere.  The various groups who performed each day were, Anuradha Subramaniam and Chitra Dharmarajan with their groups and the students of Rajeswary Bhat, all singing Devi Kruthis in praise of the Goddess, Sri Nagan Srinivasan doing Abhirami Andhadhi, the Houston Rudram group offering the Vedic chanting, Roopa Bala and her group reciting Lalitha Sahasranamam, Surabhi Veeraraghavan doing classical dance honoring Matha Parasakthi, Deepa Ramachandran performing with her violin, Mahesh Iyer and his students contributing the ‘Taala Vadhya Vrndha’ and the various Houston dance schools doing ‘Natyanjali’ as their offering.  The programs were of such high caliber, especially with the young talents showing great promise and adding to the wealth and splendor of the festival.

The grand finale on Sunday was the Royal Nuptial ceremony, the ‘Thirukalyanam’, as the richly legitimate and delightful conclusion of the ten days of celebration.  As plentiful and deserving as the occasion demanded, it was arranged in the Temple Kalyanamandapam, the wedding hall with all the pomp and glory of a stately wedding. The sophisticated process included every detail as prescribed for a celestial marriage ceremony.  Adhering to the traditional ritualistic recipes, starting with Seervasai, procession from the Balalayam, Oonjal ceremony, Sankalpam, Vigneswara Pooja, Punyavachanam, Raksha Bandhanam, Pravaram, Kanyadanam, Agni Prathishtai, Mangalya Dharanam, Lajahomam and Purnahuthi the event concluded with the Mangala Aarthi.  Following the ceremony, there was the Rathotsavam, a magnificent procession around the temple with the Utsava Murthis honorably placed in their respective vahanams. The concluding majestic parade to the accompaniment of the chanting of Rudram, recitation of Sahasranamam, Kolattam and Nadaswaram infused ecstatic spiritual vibes to all those who participated.  And as required by the tradition, the Dwaja Avarohanam, the un-hoisting of the celestial flag marked the conclusion of the Utsavam.

Of course weddings cannot be complete without a meal, and in this case with the royal pageantry that befits the occasion.  It was a sumptuous grand feast, with all the several dishes meticulously prepared in the temple kitchen by the staff and several volunteers under the supervision of Malar Narayanan and cordially served on banana leaves by the many affable volunteers.

The efficient and committed team of the temple from the chairman to the directors to the administrators to the employees along with a large squad of sincere volunteers deserves to be abundantly applauded for a splendid job in organizing such a marvelous festivity.   A most deserving compliment goes to Roopa Balakrishnan, the Pooja committee coordinator, working tirelessly and arduously, weaving the various filaments together, and involving an array of enthusiastic devotees in presenting to the public an exemplary spiritual bequest to be remembered for a very long time.