Navarathri at VEDA Sri Venkateswara Temple, Redmond, WA, USA

Navarathri, the most awaited ten-day festival heralds a celebratory season to the Hindu community bringing along the reminiscences of festival times back home. While to many in India, the revelries begin with shopping for dolls of Hindu Gods and Goddess, weeks ahead of Navarathri, VEDA Sri Venkateswara Temple in Redmond started off the season with pomp with Navarathri Mela– bringing together many vendors selling not only the Golu dolls but also little goodies that people gift each to enhance festal cheer.

A grand religious event had been planned for the entire duration, at the VEDA Temple, with daily sacred ablutions to the Goddess and exquisite alankaras (adornments) from the deft hands of priestSri. Kumar Gurukkal Sivam, each day. Close to 2000 devotees poured into the temple to seek blessings from the Goddess and witness the divine alankaras. A rare religious ritual, Bhagavathi Seva by the specially trained priest, Sri. Girish Sharma was the highlight of the Devi Pooja. Priest Sri. Jagannathacharya Kanduri embellished the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Venkateswara with a life like statue of the God, resembling the Lord of Tirumala in India.

An irresistible Ramayana theme Golu was the cynosure of all eyes this year. The elaborate Golu was the brainchild of a huge of team of volunteers who worked out logistics to ship specially ordered doll sets from India, depicting almost all scenes of the epic Ramayana. Even before the sets arrived, many kids of the community mulled over various designs and crafted props and backgrounds for the Golu since summer. Close to 1000 man hours had been spent by kids and adult volunteers in the making of the “talk of the town Golu”. The aesthetically created Ramayana Golu set off for a gala exhibition on the first day of Navarathri andalong with “The Ramayana Quiz”,drew in serpentine queues of people, received appreciation from parents and visiting grand-parents and rightly served to instill the sense of culture and tradition to the next generation of kids settled far away from home.

As a culmination of the grand ten-day event, agrandSrinivasa Kalyanam, the wedding of Lord Srinivasa and Goddess Padmavathi was conducted by the head priest. Many women and visiting parents from India added mirth to the celestial wedding by making lots of traditional “kalyana seer” like “paruppu thengai”, “kai murukkus”, “maalaadoos” “Tirumala Temple sized kalyana laddoos” and not to forget 400 “laddoos” – the iconicprasad (offering to the Lord) at VEDA Temple. The temple and the madapalli (kitchen) were a sight to behold on all these days and truly reverberated with the air of India.

Devotees who considered it a blessing, purchased not only the specially ordered “Kancheevaram sarees” that adorned the deity each day but also the dolls that were displayed – the huge “Kumbhakarna doll” occupied a prime position perhaps in every body’s mind (lots of offers on that one set alone) deserves a special mention.

In essence, the Navarathri celebrations at VEDA Temple served to bring together the entire community and resonate with the mood of Navarathri like in India!

The following are some of the photos taken during the occasion…

Courtesy: Aruna Iyer

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