Sanatan Mandir Atlanta, in Smyrna, Georgia, organized spectacular, joyous, spiritually suffused, ritually studded Mandal Puja at the almost ready new Sanatan Mandir on auspicious Vaishakh Shukla-Dwitiya and Tritiya, Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8. Sunday, May 8 being Mother’s Day, it too became part of the celebrations and festivities. The construction of the new Sanatan Mandir is progressing well and hopefully the Mandir will be inaugurated within a few months.
After Bhoomi Puja, and Shilanyas, Mandal Puja is the third phase of the ceremonies. The final phase will be the pranpratishta ceremony. All who attended the Mandal Puja were full of admiration for the ten attractive marble murtis (deities) from Jaipur India. The marble used for the Murtis was from Makrana mines and of Chausariya grade –ideal for lasting long and retaining its lustre. During the Pranpratishta ceremony each deity, Lakshminarayanji; Shri Ramji; Laxmanji; Sitaji, Hanumanji; Ganeshji, Hanumanji, (Das Swaroop) Shrinathji, Shri Venkateshvar Swamiji, will be imparted pran (Life force). The Mandal Puja initiates this process by placing the murtis in grains.Shivalinga and beautifully decorated Navgrahas were also on display along with the murtis.
On Saturday evening, the grand Ishta Devata Kalash shobha yatra commenced from the current Temple to the new Sanatan Mandir. Ladies clad in fetching saris and carrying “kalashes” earthen pots marched in front. Children cheerfully waving saffron colored Sanatan Mandir penants marched in front. They were followed by a decorated van carrying deities. Some participants carried few more deities, while others joined in the procession, played drums, sang devotional songs and danced with jubilation.
Upon entering the new mandir, artistic, imaginative and lavishly colored Mandals representing each set of Deities with their Kalash and decorated with garlands, colorful fresh vegetables, flowers, grain and fruits were displayed. The dazzling deities were resplendent in rich adornments and enhanced the festive atmosphere of the event.
Amita Dave, President of Sanatan Mandir, lighted the ceremonial lamp (Diya) and the Mandir priest Acharya Pramod Padhiji invoked Lord Ganesh. During both days, the elaborate rituals of archanas and pujas, and chanting of Vedic shlokas and mantras were meticulously done by the Mandir priests Acharya Pramod Padhiji and Prafulbhai Desai, while the devotees joined the priests in reverentially chanting mantras and shlokas. The chants magnified the uplifting spiritual vibrations. Acharya Padhiji also led the four Vishesh Yajmaans in doing puja of their respective Deities; Hetal Fergus Gordon- Ganeshji; Sameer and Himani Shah – SriNathji; Bina and Bharat Desai-Hanumanji; and Anil and Suja Katarya –RadhaKrishna.
In between, Praful Desai informed the audience about the program and Mandal Puja Coordinator Prakash Desai noted the progress and status of the Mandir’s construction. The Shikhar along with the Kalash is scheduled to arrive in next few weeks. A model of the beautiful columns adorning the outside of the Mandir was on display. The columns are a replica of the columns in Jaipur. Dr. Prakash Desai announced that 15 sponsors have already agreed to pay $5000 each for the columns and 15 more columns are still available for sponsoring. Sponsorships are also available for other Murtis. Each Murti can also have multiple sponsors. Each Murti sponsor is eligible to become a Trustee and participate in the Pranpratishtha. Surinder Bahl and Kusum Bahl; Vir and Lucy Nanda and Dr.Kirit and Rashmi Shah have become the new Trustees.Bhaskar and Purvi Bhavsar have already sponsored Shiv Parivar murtis.
Dr. Prakash Desai also singled out Dr.Ashok Desai a renowned Cardiologist for going extra mile in cleaning the trash from the Parking lot and also Praful Desai for making two trips to India for selecting the sculptors to make the new Murtis and approving the same.
Gunvantbhai Naik, Praful Desai, Priya Bagdi, SreeVidhya and Lata sang uplifting Lord Ganesh and Lord Krishna bhajans and also Hanuman Chalisa, while Bhavesh Patel accompanied on the Tabla. Devotees also joined in singalong.
It was heartening to see not only that a big number of children in the audience absorbing the rich Indian culture but also that three of the four Vishesh Yajmaans were from the younger generation.
The attendees were invited to participate in Annadhivaas ceremony, when the devotees took grains and worshipped the deities by placing the grains at their feet. Later, Acharya Padhiji performed mantrapushpanjali. Kids of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh run Balagokulam in the Sanatan Mandir at Smyrna, performed a skit and dance program. The students aged 7 to 11, did an excellent job in presenting a skit, the central message of which was to coexist and to respect nature and natural resources of the world for a greener earth. The younger kids aged 6 and under performed a foot tapping dance depicting Krishna and his cowherds having fun dancing together to the popular Hindi bhajan ‘Choti choti gaiya, chote chote gwaal’. Sreevidhya’s students sang Ganesha sharanam Bhajan,recited shlokas from Bhagavad Gita; and rendered a song on Lord Krisha in Tamil(Chinna chinna padam vaithu).Charvi and Sudikshana,who are students of K A Academy in Marietta performed a scintillating Kauthvam in dance on Lord Muruga.
Noted musician Kalyanji Anandji’s daughter-in-law Urmila Mota sang two popular bhajans ‘mein toh bawari Shrinathji’ and Raghupati Raghav’ in her mellifluous voice while his grand-daughter Priyal Shah provided the music.
After the aarti, delicious Mahaprasad was served to all.
Acharya Padhiji said that Sunday was Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day when Brihaspati, (Guru), Sun and Moon come together. It was also Mother’s Day. Mothers are epitome of compassion and knowledge and ought to be loved and respected by all. On Sunday, the Mandal Puja was graced by Mr.D.V.Singh from the India Consulate. The attendees went around wishing Happy Mother’s Day. The Puja began with archana ceremony. The Vishesha Yajmaans and other devotees were led by Acharya Padhiji in archana. Later, Padhiji did Sarva Devata Mandir Puja, Goddess Laxmi archana and Chatur Veda Seva. Gayatri Mantras for each deities were also recited.
Hetal Gordon and Suja Katarya representing the younger generation gave inspiring speeches emphasizing the need for new temple and the importance of giving back to the community.
Prakash Desai recognized Girish Modi for his photography and video services, and Anil Patel for capably handling the sound system. (Applause)
After mantrapushpanjali and aarti, all were served delicious Mahaprasad. Some items for the Mahaprasad were generously donated by Haldiram and RajBhog while volunteers led by Kartik Patel prepared the delicious sabjis, daals, rice and puris in the current Temple’s kitchen.
The Sanatan Mandir Trustees and Executive Committee members have strongly requested the community to support the Mandir through donations in cash or kind, or by volunteering. For more information, please visit the website; www.sanatanmandiratlanta.org
By Mahadev Desai