Sita Rama Kalyanam and Rathotsavam…
Week-long 87th birthday celebrations commenced in Prasanthi Nilayam on a very auspicious note, staging a symbolic celestial marriage of the Divine couple Lord Rama and Mother Sita followed by Rathotsavam.
The programme held on a make-shift platform, in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum, commenced at 0830 hrs. lasting 80 minutes. Amidst Vedic chanting and to the backdrop music of Nadaswaram, even as the rituals continued with various offerings to the Divine couple, the chief priest went on elaborating the greater significance and purport of the Divine Marriage connecting the same with Sai saga. Upanayanam, sacred thread ceremony of the bridegroom followed by Kanyadanam (giving away the bride) was performed amidst chanting before the final ceremony, The Divine Marriage, was conducted by tying of Mangala Sutra around the neck of the bride.
This is the second 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 inside the bhajan hall, in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan.
The celestial Marriage is aimed at establishing Universal Peace and Prosperity.
Mangala Arathi to the Divine couple was offered before the deities were taken out in procession along with that of Lord Venugopala Swami. Subsequently, 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.
Ecstatic mood of the village folk dancing to the tune of drumbeats, breaking coconuts and offering arathi enroute, was evidential of the religious fervour attached to the festivity. Vedam and Bhajans group from Prasanthi led the procession. Adding to the fervour joined many various folk-art forms from Andhra Pradesh.
The Venugopala Swami idol was mounted at the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyanamandapam before return journey commenced, carrying the Sita Rama idols, 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.
Back in the Mandir, bhajans continued till 10 hrs. when Mangala Arathi was offered to Bhagawan.
Earlier, outside the Prasanthi gates, enthusiastic Parthi folks were up quite early, sprucing up and decorating the entire road between Prasanthi Mandir and Pedda Venkamaraju Kalyana Mandapam. Women devotees were seen engaged in painting the road with `Rangoli’.