Week-long 91st birthday celebrations of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai commenced in Prasanthi Nilayam on a very auspicious note this morning, staging the customary symbolic celestial marriage of the Divine couple Lord Sri Ramachandra and Mother Sita followed by the annual Rathotsavam, another customary affair. Today is incidentally the Ardra Star Birthday of Beloved Bhagawan.
The Sita Rama Kalyanam is meant to establish 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, Divine Couple Sita Ramachandra flanked by Lakshmana and Hanuman on one side and Lord Venugopala Swami on the other side.
The elaborate rituals for the morning included various offerings to the Divine couple, Upanayanam - the sacred thread ceremony of the bridegroom followed by Kanyadanam (giving away the bride) along with intermittent Arathi offering. Amidst floral offerings and to the backdrop Nadaswaram music, the Divine Marriage was conducted at 0910 hrs. by tying of Mangala Sutra around the neck of the Bride. At the end a miniyajna, 'havan’ was also conducted, symbolically representing the sacred fire ritual connected to the Celestial Wedding. Poornahuthi to the Homam was followed by Mangala Arathi to the Divine Couple marking the grand-finale of the marriage proceedings in the Sai Kulwant Hall.
This is the sixth year in succession, ever since its inception, the Divine Marriage is conducted in Sai Kulwant Hall, witnessed by an assembly of devotees.
Bhajan continued for sometime before Mangala Arathi offering at 1010 hrs.
Following the annual tradition of Rathotsavam, after the Mangala Arathi, Lord Venugopala Swami was taken out in a chariot procession along with the Divine Couple - Sita Ramachandra through the main Puttaparthi road to the Peddavenkama Raju Kalyana Mandapam.
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 fervor. Vedam and Bhajans group from Prasanthi led the procession.
The Venugopala Swami idol was mounted at the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana Mandapam before returning with Sita Ramachandra. 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.