90th Birthday Week Long Celebrations of Sri Sathya Sai Baba Varu - Day 1, Morning
Dive Marriage "Sita Rama Kalyanam" and Rathothsavam
The sky remained overcast for the fourth continuous day in the holy township in Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttparthi, yet it could not dampen the euphoric spirit of the ensuing 90th Birthday celebrations of Beloved Bhagawan.
As the countdown is decimated to single digit #4days today, the morning witnessed twin auspicious functions, often considered as ‘Gateway’ to the Birthday Celebrations, here, in Prasanthi Nilayam. Traditional Sita – Rama Kalyanam first was followed by annual Rathotsavam, the Prasanthi version of Chariot Festival.
Commenced at 0730 hrs., the auspicious celestial marriage went on for the next two hours, diligently following scriptural rituals, culminating with the offering of the Bridal Mangala Sutra marking the validation of the Celestial Marriage.
Earlier, amidst Vedic chanting and to the background musical notes of Nadaswaram, the Kalyanam started with Ganapathi Aradhana, followed by ritual galore, namely, 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 Celestial Wedding function concluded with Poornahuthi.
Sita – Rama Kalyanam is conducted for Universal Peace and Harmony.
Subsequent to the Divine Marriage, ‘The Divine Couple’ along with Lord Venugopala Swami were escorted out in a royal procession as part of the annual Rathotsavam. ‘The Gods’ mounted on a chariot were taken out along the road in royal procession.
Outside the Prasanthi precincts, the pathway was colorfully decorated with ‘Rangolis’, notwithstanding intermittent showers and waterlogged roads. Despite the chill weather and overcast conditions, Sevadal volunteers were in full swing, decking up the venue and the pathway.
As the procession led by Vedam and Bhajan made its way along the main road towards the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana Mandapam, local villagers joined in with ‘beating drums and dancing ecstasy’.
As per the tradition, Lord Venugopala Swami stays back at the Kalyana Mantapam, while ‘The Divine Couple’ returns, being escorted back to the Prasanthi Mandir with religious fanfare. Natives of Puttaparthi then escort Lord Venugopala Swami in a procession covering the entire village before returning to the Mandir at night.
Back in the Mandir, bhajans continued and the session concluded with Mangala Arathi at 10:00 hrs.