Recent Events at the Temple ~ Dec 2017 to Feb 2018

Tiru Kartikai Vratam
Dec 02

During Kartika Deepam this year, Temple volunteers and devotees put their hard work and creative skills together to stunningly illuminate the yajnashala and inner sanctum using dozens of tea candles and deepams. A large Sivalingam glowed atop the homa kundam along with eight Sivalingams representing the Digdevatas (directional deities) situated around the homa kundam.

Volunteers drew a gorgeous rangoli peacock kolam in front of the Dhwajastambham in the inner sanctum and used tea candles and deepams to illuminate its beauty. Many devotees had the auspicious chance to witness a beautiful puja and to admire the beauty of this day.

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Kanakavalli Lalita Laksha Kumkumarchana
Dec 03

Starting early in the morning with Ankurarpanam, the Laksha Kumkumarchana gave hundreds of devotees the chance to perform kumkumarchana  to Sri Lalitambika with their own hands. Lalita Sahasranamam was chanted several times until a “laksharchana,” or 100,000 repetitions, of Devi’s divine names was achieved. Each rendition of Lalita Sahasranama was followed by a different rare and unique Lalita Ashtottara Namavali, and Sri Ardhanariswara also received worship throughout the entire day.

As the final offering, Lalita Sahasranamam and Lalita Trisati was recited by all devotees. Throughout the auspicious occasion, devotees sang mellifluous Bhajans to add even more to the atmosphere of love and devotion for our beloved Mother Rajarajeswari. Since this auspicious day fell on Purnima, a Sri Chakra Puja took place in the evening in the inner sanctum–a perfect ending to such a divine day.

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Thiruvempavai
Dec 23 – Jan 1

Thiruvempavai is a traditional festival that celebrates Lord Nataraja and his consort Sivakami for 10-days during the Tamil month of Margazhi. Following the traditional practices of singing Thiruppalli Ezhuchi and Thiruvempavai before dawn each day walking through the streets of a temple village, the devotees present at the temple would recite both beautiful poetic texts starting from 4am each day.

On the final day, Ardra Darshanam, devotees performed abhishekam with many mangala dravyas to Lord Nataraja and Sivakami, which was followed by a stunning alankaram. The Lord of Dance and His wife were also offered a Nritya upachara, a Bharata Natya offering. Utsava Nataraja, saint Manikkavasagar and his holy texts on Lord Siva were taken on procession around the yajnashala and were brought into the main sanctum to receive their concluding pujas and rituals for the festive morning.

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Winter Learning Session for Youth
Dec 27 – 29

The Winter Learning Session is a recently initiated program designed to continue religious and traditional learning for youth in a concentrated and intensive manner. Members of the Temple community came together to share their knowledge of Sri Vidya to the couple dozen youth that attended.

The session was organized and run similarly to the annual VSI Summer camp and the monthly Youth Learning Sessions (YLS) conducted at the Temple. By the conclusion of the session, participants had learned about the Dasa Mahavidyas and several Sri Vidya rituals and traditions such as yoga and tarpanam, as well as two of Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s compositions (Ganesha and Meenakshi Pancharatnam).

Raja Matangi Homam
Dec 31

The annual homam led by kids, for kids, started with Ankurarpanam and continued with the preparations of the purnahutis while singing the Bala Kavacam and Sivapuranam.

Raja Matangi, being one of the Dasa Mahavidyas, is considered to be the tantric form of Saraswati Devi. The homam is performed by all children present on the last Sunday morning of the calendar year to thank the Mother and appreciate what they have achieved through Her grace and pray for success in their learning and artistic endeavors for the upcoming year. The devotees recited Kalidasa’s Shyamala Dandakam and Bhajans throughout the homam. The festival concluded with offering bali and everyone present received Maha Prasadam.

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Thai Pongal
Jan 14

This traditional Tamil festival, celebrated on the 1st of the Tamil month of Thai, celebrates the harvest and honors the forces of Nature that enable us to grow and eat healthy food. On this day, farmers thank Surya Deva, their farming animals and Mother Nature for providing a successful harvest.

In the Temple, Sakkarai Pongal (sweet jaggery rice) was prepared during the puja, which was set up just outside the garbha gruha. All devotees present came together to add grains to the Pongal patram with their own hands. Everyone present then received sakkarai pongal (sweet pongal) and Maha Prasadam upon conclusion of the puja.

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Maha Sivaratri
Feb 13

The auspicious night commenced with Ankurarpanam, Kalasa Sthapanam and Abhishekam in the inner sanctum. True to Temple tradition, all devotees who were present had the chance to perform abhishekam to the mula murtis and bilva archana with their own hands to 11 different Sivalingams throughout the entire night.

A “Sahasra Lingam” formation was set up using 1,116 pure sphatika lingas, and this was one out of the 11 (Ekadasa) Lingams worshipped throughout the night. In addition, there were 8 Lingams around the homa kundam, such that the Sahasra lingam was the Varuna Lingam. Then as usual, there was a lingam in front of the Sri Chakra diagram and one in front of the Dhwajastambham. The Temple’s mula murthi Lingam, “Sri Nilakanta Prana Lingeswara,” formed the eleventh Lingam worshipped throughout the night. An elaborate “Shodasavarana Lingarchana Puja” was performed to the Sahasra Lingam, which is said to invoke the full energy of Maha Kailasam with Lord Siva, Sri Parvati and the entire divine retinue of Sri Rudra. Final arati was performed just before sunrise and all who were present definitely received the supreme grace of Lord Siva on this most holy of nights.

View photos at flickr.com