The Lord Balaji temple is situated at in Tirumala hills in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It is world-famous and people come from afar to seek blessings of the Lord. There are various grand festivals held here and the most famous of them is the Tirupathi Brahmotsavam.
Tirupathi Brahmotsavam Celebrations
This holy cleansing ceremony is one of the biggest festivals in the country. During this nine-day annual fete, the processional deity called Utsava Murti of Lord Balaji is taken around the streets surrounding the temple. His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi also accompany him to bless all the devotees who crane their neck amidst huge crowds to get one glimpse of the Lord.
Lord Brahma himself is said to descend on earth and lead the festivities. This is the reason why it is called Brahmotsavam (otsavam means festival). Symbolically, an empty chariot called Brahmaratham moves ahead of the main Vehicle during these processions. While 40000 devotees throng this temple every day, this figure almost doubles itself during this nine-day festivities.
How it is celebrated
Each day the lord is taken in a special vehicle that symbolizes his benevolence. He and his retinue are decked with colorful flowers, glimmering jewelry and vivid silk garments. His magnificent procession includes dancers, singers, musicians, Vedic scholars, priests and devotees who string praises of his benevolence in their own way. The grandeur of this festival is to be seen and experienced at least once in a lifetime.
Celebrations this year –Dates and significance
Tirupathi Brahmotsavam is conducted in the Hindu month of Asvina (between the English months September, October). This is the month when the Kaliyug Deivam, as Lord Balaji is called, was born. This festival is organized once every year but twice in adhika maasa year, when an extra month is added to the Hindu calendar. This year it will be held twice on the following days:
- Slakatla Brahmotsava 13th September – 21st September
- Again Navrathri Brahmotsvan 10 October – 18th
Each Vahanam(rath or vehicle) which the lord rides on has its own significance denoting the various virtues and powers of the Lord. The calendar for this year’s festival and the significance of the Vahanams is as follows:
13th September 2018
- Evening: Dwahaarohana or Flag (with the symbol of Garuda) hoisting ceremony of the temple in the evening initiating the festivities.
- Night: Pedda Sesha Vahanam – The Pedda sesha vahana on the first day represent the Serpent King Aadi Sesha, the seat of Lord Vishnu
14th September, 2018
- Morning: Chinna Sesha Vahanam
Chinna Sesha represents the serpent Vasuki that Lord Krishna overcame on the river Yamuna
- Evening: Hamsa Vahanam (Swan Vehicle)
Hamsa means a Swan and a Swan is known to segregate the good from the bad.
15th September 2018
- Morning: Simha Vahanam (Lion Vehicle)
Simha means Lion and this animal is a symbol of power and royalty. Here the lord rides on a lion displaying that he is the master of the powerful and protector of the weak
- Evening: Muthyala Pallaki vahanam (Pearls Vehicle)
Muthyalu means pearls and this vahanam is a symbol of purity and royalty
16th September 2018
- Morning: Kalpa Vrukshnam vahanamKalpa Vruksham is the eternal wish fulfilling tree of the holy scriptures and giver of boons
- Evening: Sarva Bhoopala Vahanam
Sarva Bhopala means Lord of the Lords
17th September 2018
- Morning: Mohini Alangaram (The lord blesses his devotees dressed as Mohini)
- Evening: Garuda Vahanam
Garuda, the king of birds is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu
18th September 2018
- Morning: Hanumantha Vahanam
Hanumanth means Hanuman and on this day the Lord rides on Hanuman just like Lord Ram did before attacking Lanka
- Evening: Swarnaotsavam(Golden Vehicle)
Swarna ratham means the chariot of gold
- Night: Gaja Vahanam (Vehicle manned by elephant)
19th September, 2018
Morning: Surya Prabha Vahanam (Vehicle of Sun) Lord Surya is said to be born from the eyes of Lord Vishnu and during the Tirupathi Brahmotsavam the Lord blesses his devotes atop the vehicle of the sun
Evening: Chandra Prabha Vahanam( Vehicle of the moon)
20th September, 2018
Morning 6. am: Car festival – On the eight day the lord is pulled in a big chariot by devotees; something akin to the Jagannath rath yatra in Puri
Evening: Ashwa Vahanam (Horse Chariot) The idol of Daruka, the charioteer of Lord Krishna, is placed in front alongwith four horses in this ratha.
21st September, 2018
- Morning 6 a.m.: Chakra Snanam
- Evening: Dwaja aavarohana (end of the utsav the flag is brought down)
The Dwaja Aavarhanam brings to end the celebrations of the annual Tirupathi Brahmotsavam.
The lights, the flower decorations, decked vahanams and chariots of the lord, the colorful procession of dancers, singers and pilgrims the atmosphere is electirc….Seeing is believing! The whole seven hills reverberate with the name of Lord Balaji during the festivities. It also seems that the heavens are showering petals from above!
It is believed that those who witness the Tirupathi Brahmotsavam will be redeemed from the circle of births and deaths. The D-day for the festival is near. So, start packing and be there just in time to participate in the festivities and receive the blessing of the Preserver of the Universe.