San Jose, California’s Balaji Matha Temple celebrated its seventh anniversary with a three-day program May 31-June 2.
On the first day, Narayananda Swamiji, peethadhipati of the temple, started the program with attending priests and devotees with Navagraha, Ganesh, Shiv, Nandi and Devi Kalash sthapana in the main temple courtyard. He prayed for blessings for the temple and the families of the devotees while explaining the significance of the Kalash Puja, where God was invoked and prayed to, accompanied by Homa (fire ritual).
He then conducted Dwarpuja and Grihapravesh following which the devotees attended the Mahalakshmi Abhishekam ceremony. Milk, honey, yogurt and many sacred items, amidst Vedic chants, were poured onto the deity by Swamiji, who was assisted by Vittaladas Nityananda Swami and a few other devotees at the main altar.
The devotees chanted Vedic mantras and prayers and sang in adoration of the universal mother, the Shaktisvarupa (power incarnate). Prayers extolling the glories of Lord Ganesh reverberated in the temple. After the end of the Shodashopachara puja and Mangalarati, Swamiji blessed everyone with Mahaprasad.
On June 1, Swamiji sat down with the devotees to perform Ganesh, Rudra, Navagraha and Vaastu Homa. This was followed by Navagraha, Shiva and Nandi Jalanivasa and Kshiranivasa. He then proceeded to perform a divine Abhishekam of Lord Balaji. The overjoyed devotees venerated the lord with Vishnu Sahasranam and hailed his glorious name and sought his blessings. Finally, the devotees were blessed with the darshan of Lord Balaji in his Vishvaroop avatar. This was followed by Mangalarati.
Meanwhile, in the Ananda Hall, Indian classical musical programs by several talented local artist groups were being presented. A jump court was put up for kids to play and the event also featured a luncheon, with a continuous supply of snacks.
Swamiji felicitated and blessed the artists and commended them for practicing and keeping up with the cultural traditions of India. He released a book, “Sri Balaji Stotra Mala,” a compendium of popular stotras dedicated to Lord Vishnu in five languages (Sanskrit, English, Kannada, Telegu and Tamil).
The attending dignitaries commended the dedication of Swamiji over the years to spread the devotional message of peace and Hindu cultural heritage through the temple.
In his speech, Swamiji extolled the virtues of selfless service and the merits of a society where benefits are received and reciprocated in kind.
Then the Shivlinga, Nandi and Navagraha Ashtabandhana was conducted by the attending priests with directions from Swamiji. The day ended with devotees enjoying a fulfilling dinner prepared by devotees.
The final day of the celebrations started with Ganesh puja and a Homa after which Swamiji did parikrama of the temple grounds with the Mula-Kalash along with other devotees carrying the Shiv Kalash and Shakti Kalash. This was followed by the Sthapana puja of Shivling, Nandi and Navagraha Sthapana.
After lunch, Swamiji presided over a Sri Venkateswara, Sridevi, Bhudevi Kalyanam. The marriage of Sri Venkateswara with Sridevi and Bhudevi was conducted by the attending priests. The ceremony was followed by Sumangali Puja.
A Guru Puja ceremony was performed where Vittaladas Nityananda Swamiji spoke about the significance of guru for the common person, and the providential presence of the temple and Peethadhipati Narayananda Swamiji in everyone’s lives.
Narayananda Swamiji gave a brief speech on the motto of the Balaji Temple. After the prasad distribution, the devotees performed parikrama of the temple grounds in a Rath Yatra, with the ‘Utsava Murtis’ of Lord Venkatesh and his two brides, Sridevi and Bhudevi, riding a chariot. Prayers were offered to the Sun God amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras. Devotees carried festive umbrellas and fanned the deities in the chariot to the sound of bells, drumbeats and blowing of conch shells.
Swamiji completed the prayers with Mangalaarati. He then felicitated the priests who conducted the three-day rituals and blessed all the devotees for their participation.