RATHOTSAVAM AND SITA RAMA KALYANAM, "SRI SATHYA SAI" - 89TH Birthday Celebrations - Day 1
'God's were present'..., Vedic Chants reverberated... Scriptural Rituals were observed..., Percussive Intonations sang backdrop melody... and Lord Sri Ramachandra tied Bridal Mangala Sutra on Mother Sita... thus Prasanthi witnessed the commencement of week-long Birthday celebrations...
Twin functions, Celestial Marriage of Sita – Rama, the Divine Couple, and Rathotsavam, the Chariot Festival, marked the commencement of the week-long 89th Birthday celebrations of Bhagawan here in Prasanthi Nilayam today. The celestial Wedding was performed to the Deities of Lord Sri Ramachandra and Goddess Sita, witnessed by thousands of devotees.
Commencing at just after 0700 hrs., the auspicious Sita Rama Kalyanam was performed observing all ritualistic rites, lasting two hours. Held on a make-shift platform in the Sai Kulwant Hall, the Bridal Mangala Sutra validating the marriage was offered to the Bride at 0900 hrs. marking the fulfillment of the Divine Marriage.
Earlier, amidst Vedic chanting and to the background musical scores of auspicious Nadaswaram, the Kalyanam started with Ganapathi Aradhana, followed by various rituals relating to the Marriage, including Upanayanam - the sacred thread ceremony Kanyadanam - giving away the bride, Mangala Aradhana before the most significant ritual of offering the ‘Bridal Mangala Sutra (Mangalya Dharana). The marriage function concluded with Poornahuthi.
The celestial Marriage is aimed at establishing Universal Harmony.
Subsequent to the Marriage ‘The Divine Couple’ were escorted out in a royal procession along with Lord Venugopala Swami, as part of the annual Rathotsavam. ‘The Gods’ mounted on the chariot were taken out along the road in procession.
Beating drums and dancing ecstasy took over soon. Local children in coloured attire joined the band, presenting ‘Kavadiyattam’. The procession made its way through the main road, moving towards the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyanamantapam. Ecstatic mood of the village folk dancing to the tune of drumbeats, breaking coconuts and offering Mangala Arathi enroute, was evidential of the religious fervor attached to the festivity. Vedam and Bhajans group from Prasanthi led the procession.
As per the tradition, Lord Venugopala Swami stays back at the Kalyanamantapam while, The Divine Couple returns, being escorted back to the Mandir with religious fanfare. Villagers then escort Lord Venugopala Swami in a procession covering the entire village before returning to Mandir in the night, a customary practice ever since the inception of Rathotsavam.
Back in the Mandir, bhajans continued and the session concluded with Mangala Arathi at 0950 hrs.
The Divine Couple, Sita Rama returned to the Mandir at 1045 hrs.
Mangala Arathi was offered to the Celestial Couple at 1050 hrs. marking the end of the session.
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