The deities of Lord Venkatesh and Sridevi at the Balaji Matha Temple, in San Jose, Calif. (Balaji Temple photo)

Balaji Matha Temple in San Jose, Calif., celebrated its 5th anniversary, June 2-4, Madhumita Banerjee presents a report of the proceedings.

The celebrations started with devotees sitting down for ashtottari (108) kalash puja in the main temple, led by Narayananda Swami, June 2, in the afternoon. After explaining the significance of the kalash puja, where God was invoked and prayed to, 108 (sacred count) times, by the attending families and priests, Swamiji prayed for blessings for the Temple and the devotees’ family.

Swamiji conducted Dwarpuja and Grihapravesh and afterwards the devotees attended the glorious Mahalakshmi Abhishekam ceremony in the main temple.  Goddess Mahalakshmi was venerated with milk, honey, yogurt and many sacred items, amidst Vedic chants by Swamiji, assisted by Vittaladas Nityananda Swami, Parthasarthi, Prabhuram and Thaygaraj Natarajan at the main altar. The devotees chanted Vedic mantras and prayers and sang in adoration of the Goddess, the Shaktisvarupa (Power incarnate), and prayed for Her benevolent guidance to reach the lotus feed of Lord Vishnu.  After the end of the Shodashopachara puja Swamiji in his brief speech thanked the devotees for their whole-hearted assistance in getting the arrangements done for the anniversary celebrations and blessed everyone with prasadam.

Temple head priest Narayananda Swami presides over the Balaji Matha Temple anniversary celebrations, in San Jose, Calif. (Balaji Temple photo)

Pradeep Joshi of Sangeet Dhwani arranged a splendid Kathak dance recital by Deepali Vichare, a Maharashtrian film choreographer and her students. Guru Bhupal entertained the audience with a beautiful sitar recital in Mishra Khamaj accompanied by the talented Bay Area teenager Tejas.

On the second day, June 3, the celebrations started with devotees sitting down to finish 108 kalash puja in the main temple. The devotees followed Narayananda Swami, carrying the 108 kalashas from the main temple by performing 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 (Rath), traveling the Temple Grounds giving Darshan. Prayers were offered to the Sun God amidst chanting of Vedic Mantras. Devotees carried festive umbrellas and fanned the deities in the chariot to the sound of bells and drumbeats, and blowing of conch shells. A welcome home ceremony was performed as the chariot entered the Temple. Narayananda Swami performed a divine Abhishekam of Lord Balaji with the contents of the 108 kalashas. The devotees venerated the Lord with Vishnu Sahasranam, and hailed His glorious name and sought His blessings with pure devotion. Finally, the devotees were blessed with the darshan of Lord Balaji in his Vishvaroop Avatar.  This was followed by Mangalarati.

The Indian American community at the Balaji Matha Temple anniversary celebrations, in San Jose, Calif. (Balaji Temple photo)

The Jayendra Kalakendra group gave a splendid performance in the Ananda Hall. This was followed by Swamiji meeting with the dignitaries.  Local dignitaries, Bob Wieckowski, State Senator; Ash Kalra, State Assembly Member; Kansen Chu, State Assembly Member; Savita Vaidhyanathan, Mayor, City of Cupertino; Rishi Kumar, Saratoga City Council Member; Lan Diep, San Jose Council Member; and Tom Pyke, representative of Congressman Ro Khanna; graced the cultural program. They commended the dedication of Narayananda Swami over the years to spread the devotional message of peace and Indian Hindu cultural heritage by the Balaji Temple. In recognition of Swamiji’s relentless efforts they presented Balaji Matha Temple with commemorative plaques as a token of their appreciation of his service.  Swamiji spoke wholeheartedly in appreciation of their kind support and presence and felicitated them as per the Indian custom of “Atithi Devobhava.” A resounding Thaala Vadya program was presented by the talented budding artistes of the Sarvalaghu Percussion Art Center. The Suavaralaya group from Goldentunes performed a dance recital. Songs rendered by Sri Latha’s students completed the melodious evening. The day ended with devotees enjoying a grand dinner sponsored by Srimati Shailaja and Sri Rajkumar.

Elango Velayuthan, temple board member; Krishna Sheelam, temple secretary; Prasanna, Puttappaiah Muni, Mahesh Nihalani, Sharada Banerjee, Padma Gottippatti, Sunil, Krishna Katt and Vijayalakshmi temple devotees; were instrumental in managing the programs and the attendees.

The final day of the celebrations, June 4, was the auspicious Nirjala Ekadashi day in the Hindu Calender. Narayananda Swami conducted a beautiful Panduranga-Rukmini Jugalmurti Shodashopachar Abhishekam.  Men devotees wearing dhotis, and female devotees wearing sarees also performed milk abhishekam of the Jugalmurti. The prayers progressed with bhajans of the Gnanananda Seva Sampraday. Swamiji completed the prayers with Mangalarati and prayers for all devotees.

Temple officials and community leaders at the Balaji Matha Temple anniversary celebrations, in San Jose, Calif. (Balaji Temple photo)

This was followed by Guru Puja ceremony, where the preceptor, the teacher (religious) is venerated by the devotees, praying for Him to be the continuous guiding light illuminating their minds and lives. Prabhu Goel, Parthasarathy Iyengar and Vittaldas Nityananda Swami spoke about the significance of Guru for the common person, and the providential presence of Balaji Matha Temple, San Jose, Peethadhipati Narayananda Swamiji in our lives. Narayananda Swami gave a brief speech on the motto of Balaji Temple and the selfless service and dedication to the lotus feet of the Lord, and thanked all the volunteers and sponsors for their contributions, thus concluding the Fifth Anniversary Celebrations of the Balaji Matha Temple.  The celebrations ended with a sumptuous lunch sponsored by Sri Kulasingham and family.

Bhoga na bhukta vayameva bhuktah, tapo na taptam vayameva taptah

Kalo na yato vayameva yatah, trishna na jirna vayameva jirnah

This quote from Bhartrihari-Shatakam means: We do not consume pleasures, pleasures consume us.  We do not do penance, only we are done. Penance not directed inwards only pulls us outwards in a show and empties us from inside. We think time is passing by, only we pass away.  Our thirst is not over, only the light of our existence gets over. Even if the numerous pleasures, were to be limited, the desires are never limited, the thirst never gets over, unless we learn to be content, there is no getting over thirst.

Hari Om Tatsat!