Celestial Marriage and Rathotsavam…

Week-long 88th birthday celebrations commenced in Prasanthi Nilayam on a very auspicious note, staging a symbolic celestial marriage of the Divine couple Lord Sri Ramachandra and Mother Sita followed by Rathotsavam.

The Sita Rama Kalyanam is aimed at establishing Universal Peace and Prosperity.

The programme held on a make-shift platform, in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum, commenced at 0730 hrs. and lasted two hours. The make-shift podium had the Lords seated majestically, Lord Sita Ramachandra flanked by Lakshmana and Hanuman on one side and Lord Venugopala Swami on the other side.

The elaborate rituals had as its part various offerings to the Divine couple, various Arathi offerings, Upanayanam, the sacred thread ceremony of the bridegroom followed by Kanyadanam (giving away the bride). Amidst floral offerings and to the backdrop Nadaswaram music, the Divine Marriage was conducted at 0920 hrs. by tying of Mangala Sutra around the neck of the Bride. On the sidelines, a ‘havan’ was also conducted, symbolically representing the sacred fire ritual connected to the Divine Marriage. Poornahuthi to the Homam was followed by Mangala Arathi to the Divine Couple. Simultaneously offerings and rituals to Venugopala Swami was also being conducted.

This is the third year in succession, ever since its inception, the Divine Marriage is conducted in Sai Kulwant Hall, witnessed by an assembly of devotees. Over the years the function used to be held inside the bhajan hall, in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan.

Bhajan continued for sometime before Mangala Arathi offering at 0945 hrs.

In consonance with the annual tradition, Rathotsavam, after the Mangala Arathi Lord Venugopala Swami was taken out in a chariot procession along with Sita Ramachandra along the main Puttaparthi road.

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The Deities were mounted on the main chariot at the Gopuram gate amidst devotional exuberance. Upon mounting the deities, coconuts were broken and Arathi was offered before they were taken out along the road in procession.

The procession turned out to be colourful with ecstatic mood of the village folk came to the fore who, including tiny tots, danced to the tune of drumbeats, breaking coconuts and offering arathi enroute, exhibiting great religious fervour. Vedam and Bhajans group from Prasanthi led the procession.

The Venugopala Swami idol was mounted at the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyanamandapam before return journey commenced, carrying Sita Ramachandra, a custom that has been in place ever since the Chariot Festival was introduced in Parthi. Enthusiastic villagers would carry Lord Venugopala Swami in a procession covering the entire village before returning to Mandir in the night, a customary practice over the years, ever since the inception of Rathotsavam.

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II