By Ravi R Ponangi
Atlanta, GA: All temples/shrines spread across Atlanta –Hindu temple of Atlanta, Shiv Mandir of Atlanta, Siddhi Vinayak Mandir, Sadhana Mandir, Gokul Dham, Yugal Kunj, Greater Atlanta Vedic Temple, Sadhana Mandir, Shree Shakti Mandir, Lake City, Sanatan Mandir, Smyrna, Shirdi Sai Temple, Suwanee, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Lilburn and other community organizations celebrated Maha Sivaratri with a variety of programs and pujas from March 3-5. People from Atlanta and nearby places were seen at these events along with their families, friends and volunteering in festivities. Also seen in celebration of togetherness. Temples in Atlanta resonated with all rituals, Pujas and cultural Programs.Long queues of devotees were seen at different shrines and temples of Lord Siva since the break of dawn.
The Hindu temple of Atlanta (HTA), Riverdale celebrated Maha Sivaratri for two days in South Indian style on Saturday, March 02 and Monday, March 04with devotional fervor. Maha Sivaratri is much awaited festival in Siva temple dedicated to Sri Rama Lingeswara and His consort Parvata Vardhini.
The celebration on Saturday, March 2 included Anugna, Maha Ganapati Puja, Punyahavachanam, Raksha Bandhan, Mruttika Snapanam, Rutvikvarunam, Akhanda Deepa Aradhana, Mandapa Devata Avahanam, Ekadasa Rudrabhishekam, Lalita Sahasranama, Siva Sahasranama, Trishati Pujas and Bilva Archana. The Saturday program ended with Visesha Harati and distribution of Maha Prasad.
Maha Sivaratri is celebrated worldwide,People visit Siva temples to worship Lord Siva. Maha Sivaratri is one of the largest and most significant among the sacred festival nights of India. The darkest night of the year, celebrates the Grace of Siva. The planetary positions on this night are such that there is a powerful natural upsurge of energy in the human system. It is enormously beneficial for one’s physical and spiritual well being. Maha Sivaratri festival is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, the dates vary every year. According to the Hindu almanac, Maha Sivaratri is celebrated on the 13th night and the 14th day of the Phalguna month, generally falls between February and March. In United States Maha Sivaratri 2019 is celebrated on Monday, March 4 and extended till March 5, as Maha Sivaratri celebrations continue till late at night and devout people observe a fast for the entire day.
Maha Sivaratri at Hindu temple of Atlanta, Riverdale started early morning on Monday, March 4 and continued all through the night. The whole event witnessed lot of rituals that included Ashtottara Kalasa Sthapana, Rudra Homam, Pujas, Archanas, traditional Pahari/yaama abhishekams to presiding deity Sri Rama Lingeswara (Siva Lingam) in different timings all through the day as prescribed in the scriptures. Devotees observed fasting and spend the day and night engrossed in worship of Lord Siva. The temple resident priests, Srinivasa Sarma Adarasupally, Pavan Kumar Kistapati, Siva Naga Kumar Dusi, Sunil Kumar Durgaraju, Bharath Yaddhanapudi and MKS Subrahmanyam performed all rituals to the satisfaction of all devotees. Lingodbhava Kubera Paasupatha Abhishekam was held at midnight 12 AM (March 5). Devotees believe performing special Kubera Paasupatha Abhishekam bestow wealth by the grace of Almighty God Siva.
Seeing the large gathering of devotees, excited temple president Sheela Lingam said 3000 plus devotees visited temple on Maha Sivaratri. As the Maha Sivaratri is on Monday this year, devotees thronged temple believing it is very auspicious to worship Lord Siva. She said that we did not expect this much crowd today and we are extremely happy for the over whelming response from devotees. Sheela thanked priests, volunteers, devotees, temple committees and trustees.Parking spaces were full and dining area was packed. Each and every individual were seen offering milk (Abhisheka) to Shivalinga throughout the day. Long lines of devotees patiently waited for their turn to offer milk to Siva lingam. Traditional/classical dances and bhajans depicting Lord Siva and Parvati stories were excellent with performances of local classical dancers. The wedding of Sri Rama Lingeswara and Parvata Vardhini depicted with all traditional rituals.
One of the performers said we are extremely privileged, honored and blessed to perform in front of Siva. Monika, a student from local university said Maha Sivaratri is always special because I am a dance student. As a dancer I always celebrate Maha Sivaratri in my dance school. At home back in India we celebrate a lot. Coming to Atlanta and studying alone, it is just a wonderful experience to come to this temple and celebrate Maha Sivaratri festival with a wonderful community.
Aditya Jaganathan, a software professional and a temple volunteer said “I am volunteering in the temple for over seven years now. We enjoy doing the service. Today, Maha Sivaratri makes so special because the way the priests do pujas here you cannot find anywhere in United States.” Maha Sivaratri celebrations at HTA concluded on early hours of March 5 with the customary mantra Pushpam, Mangala arati and distribution of Maha Prasadam to the assembled devotees.
Hindu temple of Atlanta was built in 1990 and located in Riverdale near Atlanta, Georgia. The temple was built in South Indian tradition and frequented by the followers of Hindu faith, Inter faith groups and students from different universities.
By Ravi R Ponangi