Vaikunda Ekadasi and Goda Kalyanam Celebration at Sri Meenakshi Temple

Lord Narayana with Sridevi and Boodevi on Garuda vahana Photo: Kaushik G

Lord Narayana with Sridevi and Boodevi on Garuda vahana Photo: Kaushik G

PEARLAND: On a warm and beautiful wintery  morning more than 500 devotees gathered and eagerly weaved their way in a winding queue to enter through a special door for the darshan of Lord Narayana, resplendent on the Garuda Vahana (mythical bird that is the mount of the Lord) with Sridevi (Mahalakshmi) and Bhoodevi (Mother Earth). Chants of “Govinda! Govindaa!!” rose amidst the singing of bhajans by enthusiastic devotees.  The place was Houston’s own Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, and the occasion was the Vaikunda Ekadasi celebration on Saturday, January 11. The belief among devotees is that, Vaikunda Dwaram (or the gate to Lord’s Inner Sanctum) is opened on this day.  This was symbolically represented at the temple by devotees entering the main temple through a special  door which signified walking into Swarga Vaasal (the door to heaven). After taking darshan the devotees took a procession of the magnificently seated divine Lord Narayana with the divine mothers around the temple.

Devotees waiting to enter Swarga Vaasal        Photo: M.K. Sriram

Devotees waiting to enter Swarga Vaasal Photo: M.K. Sriram

The devotees at Sri Meenakshi Temple were treated to a second auspicious function, Goda Kalyanam, on the following morning Sunday, January 12, which coincided with the celebration of the mandalam completion of the consecration of the new Ganesh temple.

The month of Marghazi from mid-December to mid-January represents a holy month in the Hindu calendar. It is believed that Sri Mahalakshmi took birth as Andal/Goda in Srivilliputtur.  As one of the foremost among the 12 Alwars (great devotees of Lord Narayana), she composed the Thiruppavai (30 songs in praise of Lord Narayana) which are steeped in devotion while extolling the great Vedic philosophy at the same time.  Andal’s penance undertaken this month, with the culmination of marriage to Lord Narayana as Sri Ranganatha is celebrated as Goda Kalyanam.

After a brief prayer to Lord Ganesha in the new Ganesh temple, the traditional Seervarisai (offerings for the marriage) started with Andal’s Thiruppavai recitation and Nadaswaram music accompaniment in the background.  All the devotees then gathered at the main temple and were enthralled to witness the holy occasion of Andal Kalyanam and to receive the celestial blessings. Prasadam prepared by volunteers, was distributed following the wedding.

The Thiruppavai saying “Koodarai vellum Seer Govinda” translated as “Even for those who do not actively make the effort to seek the divine, Lord Govinda will seek out, to bless and protect them and win them over with his majesty, grace, compassion and love”, aptly describes the mood that the devotees felt on these twin celebratory occasions at Sri Meenakshi Temple.

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